I will divide this report in 3. One post for each resort.
Golden BC is three hours west of the Calary airport. It's an easy drive all on Highway 1- the main East-West artery. It takes about an hour to get out of the city and surrounding ranchland before you enter the Canadian Rockies.
From that point on I was surrounded by towering mountains the entire trip. About 30 minutes into the mountains I passed Banff (and Sunshine Village ski resort), and 30 more minutes to Lake Louise ski resort. Then one more hour or a total of 3 hr drive to Golden from Calgary YYC.
Golden is not a ski resort town, in fact, there are no commercial signs of the ski culture, except for a bunch of hotels, which also service the summer visitors and travelers along Highway 1. Kicking Horse resort is about 15 minutes outside of town.
Ski Resort Map - http://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Kicking-Horse/pistemap
At 9am, I met up with BrianW and his wife Darlene(TGR), who offered to show me around their home resort which they have season passes to. KH has a vertical of 4100 ft, but much of the top 2/3rd's vertical is only serviced by the tram. There is also a Chair that goes to the top which allows you to access about 1/3rd of the terrain at the top and two of the bowls. Saturday is the busiest day at KH and there was a 20 minute wait for the gondola except for an hour at lunch and the last 30 minutes when the lines was small. There were no lines for the chair all day long. Supposedly Sundays are not nearly as busy and the place is empty during the week, except for powders days, which bring the locals out.
Of the three resorts I skied, KH had by far the best conditions. It snowed about 2 feet the weekend before and there was no powder but the snow was in excellent condition. The top half of KH consists of 4 bowls separated by three steep ridges. Just about all of the terrain is rated black, but that black is almost equally divided between single, double and triple black. Triple black terrain has high exposure and great risk if you slip or fall - only skiable by the highest experts(not me!). KH is a tough place on top! Thankfully I had a guide to show me the safe way down in each bowl. There is a quite a bit in each bowl where getting in requires jumping off a cornice.
Luckily, the snow conditions were sweet and soft, so that their wasn't a high risk of a long slide with a fall or slip. Also, it was a bluebird sky day, I would not like to be at the top of KH during a whiteout storm if I was skiing there for the first time. KH is not the kind of place where you could just wonder down one of the ridges, because you could very likely end up with extreme triple black terrain as the only way down.
The bottom half of the mountain are straight shots down the fall line that vary in pitch from black to blue. Most of the runs on the bottom half of the mountain were quite similar, except for the pitch. I was usually the only person on a “run”, unless I was on one of the main cruisers.
Here is a compilation(2:36) of some quick video's I took while at KH.
Once you get 1 hr from Calgary the scenery is incredible. You are now in the land of grizzlies and wolverines, my internet ski guide buddy saw one the year before.
The resort is visible from everywhere in Golden.
One of the 4 steep bowls on top.
My "internet" guides. DougW & Darlene - thanks for sharing KH with me. Both awesome skiers(but wouldn't we all be if we had a seasons pass to KH<g>)
Lot's of triple black chutes at this place.
My favorite run on the lower 1/2 of mtn. Aabout 1500 ft of perfectly-sized and soft, powdery moguls. Named - Terminator.
Sweet Soft Moguls. My favorite - "Hero Moguls".
They have a grizzly bear in a 20 acre enclosure. His mother was shot by a poacher and he can't fend for himself in the wild. He's due to wake up anytime now.
Edited by SnowbirdDevotee - 3/18/13 at 3:59pm