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North American Ski Resorts Review - Kicking Horse

North American Ski Resorts Review - Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

 

Not so many years ago, the superb terrain encompassed by Kicking Horse Mountain Resort was out of reach for all but a select few. It’s high alpine bowls were the exclusive playground of heli-ski clients and uber-fit backcountry skiers and boarders willing to hike up the heights. 

A couple of rickety old lifts feed people up to the top of the tree line in a weekends-only, local’s hill called Whitetooth, but the slopes above lay largely untouched. Since 2000, for the price of a lift ticket, the whole 2750 acres of this superb terrain is anyone’s playground. And what a place to play....

A fast, eight-person gondola glides up from the base area right to the top of the resort at 2,450 meters in a non-stop twelve-minute trip. At the summit, when the visibility is clear, the views across the Purcell range are some of the most impressive of any ski resort in North America. 

That’s probably why they chose to build a restaurant all the way up there. The Eagle’s Eye isn’t your usual pizza, burger and chill joint; it’s a rather sumptuous eatery with huge glass walls so you can drink in the views while you dine. Certainly worth an extended lunch break.

The way down from the top of the gondola it’s pretty much a case of “pick a line, any line”. The two whole bowls, Crystal to the left and Bowl Over on the right, are all in-bounds. There are only a few marked runs, one to note being a green that meanders a gentle 10 kilometer route from summit to base station. It is the go anywhere freedom that makes Kicking Horse feel like it is still heli-only terrain.

If the gondola-accessed area isn’t enough then there are some hikeable options on the far side of Bowl Over and a vast tract of Feuz Bowl that you can reach from the “Stairway to Heaven” lift.

Kicking Horse is an exciting and interesting resort, but isn’t the best place for beginners; only 20% of its runs are green. The options for intermediates are limited to a further 20%. This is a resort for advanced and expert skiers and riders. The variety of terrain that will test their skills is excellent.

Arguably the only downside of Kicking Horse is there is only one way up from the base to the top and that is via the gondola. This can be a bit of a pain, as it means there isn’t vast scope for linking a load of runs whilst staying high; eventually you will have to funnel back down, a particular pain at the weekend when the queue is longer. That said, like most West Coast Canadian resorts, by European standards, even the busy days aren’t particularly crowded.

The base area is comparatively small with only a handful of bars and restaurants. It is constantly expanding, but more après action will be found 14 kilometers down the mountain in the town of Golden. It’s not a chi-chi place; it a local town with a hard working logging tradition strung out along a valley it shares with railway lines and a highway, but there are quite a few decent places to eat, drink and be merry.

Read more on Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

©Huw J. Williams 2012

 

 

 

Resorts: 
Kicking Horse
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