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Kicking Horse - February 20 and 21

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

My girlfriend and I decided to head to Golden, BC on Saturday for a weekend of skiing. Golden is a little less than 3 hours from my home in Calgary, so it is definitely doable as a day trip, but it is more comfortable to make a weekend out of it.


The original plan was to ski at Kicking Horse Resort on Saturday and tour a bit around Rogers Pass on Sunday. But, avalanche Canada had a special bulletin warning of increased avy risk for the weekend with variable conditions, so we decided to stay inbounds.


Golden is a pretty laid back town. Definitely blue collar. We stayed at an inexpensive (but clean motel), and had some decent pub food at the Golden Taps for dinner. But you aren't really interested in the town, are you?


Some background


Kicking Horse is one of my favorite places to ski. I first skied at the resort after moving to Calgary in 2006. Unfortunately I haven't been able to return as often as I would have liked. I was a student in Calgary from 2006-08 and tried to reduce skiing expenses with a season's pass (sunshine) during this time and completed my studies in Lethbridge from 2008-10, where I skied Castle. I returned to Clagary in 2010, but was articling in corporate audit for the next 4 years, and getting out in the winter was tough. Last year was my first year back to skiing, and I managed to injure my knee in November. I didn't ski again until mid-March, but it was enough time to catch the end of the season at Kicking Horse. I remembered what I had missed, and made an effort to return this season.


I've been following the snow mostly, but this was my third weekend at the hill. 


I had a great time, and I will probably buy the RCR super pass next year (Kicking Horse, Fernie, Kimberly, Nakiska, and Lake Louise).



Probably not interested in this either, eh?


The report


Kicking Horse is having a good season. They have received 600cm of snow to date, and they average 750 in a year, so it's better than average. The hill received 50 cm in the week prior to our visit, but only modest dusting in the later part of our week. February has been warm all over, and my trip to Fernie the week prior was disappointing with crusty snow up top, and slush at the bottom. I skied Sunshine the next day, and conditions were much better. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was hoping that conditions would be decent. Kicking Horse is higher than Fernie, but lower than Sunshine.


I found conditions to be really good. Wintry snow up top, even on the South Faces, and choppy powder for more out of the way areas. Mid mountain was in good shape, with nice packed snow above the Catamount Quad chair. The lowest part of the mountain was a bit scrapey, but the pitch is pretty mild at this point.


We started day one with our normal pattern. Ride the gondy, ski a chute on CPR, then catch the stairway to heaven, drop into the Fuez and repeat. White Wall was particularity fun.


Pic: I got in the way of my GF's terrain shot.




Unfortunatley, there was a freeskiing comp on CPR, so many of the better chutes were roped off. The remaining options skied well, but the entrances were boney.


After lunch, we decided to focus more on the other side of the ski resort. We decided to hike T1 or T2 for the remainder of the day (and into the next day). It takes most people about 15 minutes to complete the T1 hike, and probably 25 to get to T2. The hikes are fairly steep, and T2 has one section that some might find more challenging than the ski. 


There are many options from the T1 summit. Tonnes of open terrain dropping into Super Bowl, and 4 steep chutes dropping into Bowl Over. All of the terrain is rated black diamond or double black, with most being double. It is steep, but not really extreme. And the hikes keep the crowds away.


Less chat, more pics!




T1 chutes into bowl over: Truth and Dare (center) from the gondola




Looking back up at the entrance to "Truth"



Making a turn on lower "truth"



Taking it all in on truth



An easier line into "dare"



Looking back up "dare"


Taking it all in, again!



The two chutes in the sun



Looking across Bowl over to the Gondola.



Out of the chutes and looking back up Bowl Over



Mid to Lower Mountain




Looking back at the Super Bowl Side of T1, from T2 - This skied great despite the sun!




T2 from the SuperBowl


T2 from T1



Looking Back up at T2 Chute

post #2 of 12

Nice TR!  Didn't know there was a "superpass" for that linked those ski areas.  "Chat" is appreciated as well as pics. :)

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I am just really happy to have a full winter of skiing again.


Fernie, Kimberly, and Kicking Horse are owned by RCR. I am pretty sure that Nakiska is still owned by the government, but managed by RCR.


RCR was started by Charile Locke, a mountaineer and businessman who bought lake louise 3 or 4 decdes ago. He expanded his empire by buying up some other resorts in Western Canada and Quebec. Eventually the company went bankrupt and was purchased by a group led by oilman, Murray Edwards. Locke was (somewhat recently) able to buy back Lake Louise. Louise is considered to be an "associate resort" of the RCR group. Adding Louise is a significant cost to the RCR pass, but it extends your season by 2 months, and hedges against warmer BC weather.


The RCR super pass costs similar to the Big 3 Season Pass, which covers Lake Louise, Sunshine and Norquay. 

post #4 of 12

Pretty cool stuff. The Truth and Dare and the T1 and T2 look rather seriously steep, but you got good snow, soft landings! Nice, never been, looks enticing

post #5 of 12

Nice shot's looks like you had a great time.

post #6 of 12
Nice. Not another skier in sight.
post #7 of 12

Looks like fun times,

I want to go in a winter or two, we live in Indianapolis .

On the hunt for powder

post #8 of 12

Nice report!


Inquiring minds want to know..... Truth or Dare?

post #9 of 12

What happens when its a low viz day at KH? There doesn't appear to be much in the way of protected stuff. Do they shut the whole top down?

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by agreen View Post

What happens when its a low viz day at KH? There doesn't appear to be much in the way of protected stuff. Do they shut the whole top down?


I'm not a local, but I have never been to kicking horse when the top was shut down. The only worthwhile lift from the bottom takes you to the top, so if they close the top, they close the hill (essentially). I have been there for delayed openings due to avy control, but this is rare and the delay wasn't long.The Bowl Over side and the Crystal Bowl Side of CPR ridge will almost always be open. The Crystal Bowl side of Redemption Ridge is another safe bet. The Fuez Bowl side of Redemption Ridge can take a bit of work, and White Wall (into Fuez) Terminator 1 (Into Bowl Over and SuperBowl and Terminator 2 (Into SuperBowl) take the longest to open, but they all require hikes.


Fortunately the Gondola doesn't seem to get hammered by wind. Closures or the start stop cycle can happen, but it isn't all that common. Certainly nothing like castle.


We had pretty rough visibility this weekend (mornings of both days), and everything was open (i think). T2, CPR Ridge and Redemption ridge were for sure. Skiing in a whiteout at kicking horse can be a big challenge, especially if you are unfamiliar with the terrain. It's pretty rugged in most directions. Fortunately, the south side of the ridges are treed, so they make good low-vis options.


There are better hills for white-out days though.

Edited by manchester81 - 3/7/16 at 9:54am
post #11 of 12

Nice....this is place is on my list after hearing very good things.


Looks like a blast.

post #12 of 12

Hmmm, haven't been to KH since before the access road was paved.   Hmmmm.

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