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Kicking Horse and Panorama conditions

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm leaving tomorrow for a couple of days at Kicking Horse and a week at Panorama. How are conditions?
post #2 of 17
much better for you than for those of us stuck in PNW.
enjoy
post #3 of 17
Could you please post Panorama conditions when you are returning? I'll be there mid March.

Thank you!
post #4 of 17
Panorama was pretty iffy when I was there a month ago and I didn't see significant accumulation over February. Please post anything on KH. I want to get out there sometime this year, but if it is too marginal Sunshine and Marmot are having good years.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Have just returned from 11 days in BC, with 3 days skiing at KHMR and 5 at Panorama. It was very warm with highs of 15C most days, and a bit of rain at Panorama, while Kicking Horse had a couple of falls of new snow. Accommodation and transport arrangements precluded skiing more at KHMR, which was clearly superior.

Kicking Horse had far better conditions than Panorama, with all runs open, powder in the bowls and decent coverage down to the base (although slushy from mid-day onwards below the top of Pioneer.) Locals described the upper mountain conditions as excellent.

Panorama was a different story: many runs closed and more were marginal. The only good coverage was on those runs with snowmaking, which were groomed every night. Conditions most mornings were hard to icy (even from an Eastern perspective), with some softening by noon. Those runs off the Sunbird Chair were slushy by mid-afternoon. There was supposedly powder at the top of the Taynton Bowl, but the ski-out was very marginal.

This was my first time at Panorama, and I would like to ski it again at optimal conditions.
post #6 of 17
We're heading up to KH next week for spring break with the family. It will probably be the final skiing for this season. It looks like they're calling for some light snow this coming week, but no significant dumps.
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by scmdtmws
Kicking Horse had far better conditions than Panorama, with all runs open,
Boy, that's not saying much. When I was at KH a bit over a week ago, it was just plain depressing. All runs were listed as open, but access to many of them was through rocks, tree stumps/roots/logs, rutted traverses, and big bump fields. Many of the runs had so much debris poking up through the snow and slush that it was all but impossible to avoid trashing your gear. We could only laugh when we looked up at a crusty bump field we'd just run - and saw the layers of rocks and stumps poking out. To be honest, we did not even try to hit any of the major bowl runs because of all the exposed crap we could see. Plus, most of the reasonably accessible stuff had been hit pretty hard. It was just not worth dealing with - at least in the unanimous opinion of the group I was skiing with. On most of the mountain, for most of the day, the snow sucked. The window between crust and slush was small. As for working the mountain, maybe the local crowd has some magic formula, but...

...the lift system sucked. Most runs forced you to hit the pure crap at the bottom in order to catch the gondola back up. Poorly thought out with very little flexibility. Forget about upper mountain laps and then downloading.

And the grooming sucked. In a perfect world (or even a slightly better one) this would not matter because you'd be skiing off-piste on six feet more snow than we had. But with limited and sketchy spring snow, both grooming capacity and skill would be good. One out of two would have been a welcome relief. We saw evidence of neither.

And Golden pretty much - you guessed it - sucks. It is a dirty little town caught between worlds. If you got a few beers in me I might be charitable and describe it as "rustic" -- except for the filthy local industries including sawmills, etc. They spew air pollution at a truly impressive rate. When we were there it pooled in the valley resulting in an in-town air quality that should make the town aspire to the relatively lower pollution levels of places like Manhattan and LA. And guarding the town from you (or you from the town) are the train tracks - which are very much in use. We had about a 50% hit rate with a 15-20 minute wait...

As for powder in the bowls and decent coverage -- sorry, I'm not buying it. Since I skied there, they've had maybe 5 inches of snow. Hardly enough to fill in the ruts between VW sized bumps or cover the rocks and stumps on most of the mountain. I guess, given the rest of the picture, I can't get too excited about hunting for baby patches of decent snow on high north facing pitches.

To top it off, the KH resort folks just plain lied about conditions. Both on the phone and on their website. It is one thing to paint your situation in a good light. It is another to full-on mislead people. And don't even try to talk to them about condition-based refunds...

The one place I have to agree with you is that a number of folks we ran into had skied Panorama a day or two before and they did agree that KH had the better conditions :

Not to be 100% negative, there was one very nice surprise at KH. Cork's restaurant at the B&B on the mountain is truly excellent - and an excellent value. Dinner was just fantastic & the service was friendly. Eat there.

Oh, and the basic line employees throughout the resort were all friendly folks. Very pleasant.

FWIW - if you are interested in KH, stay and ski Lake Louise. If there's a good snowfall, pop over to KH. From what I saw, there are a bunch of reasonably approachable pitches off the ridges that would be big fun under the right snow conditions - probably would even live up to the hype. However, without a deep base and a good covering of fresh snow, KH strikes me as just not worth the bother.

Unless they get an epic storm, don't waste your time with them the rest of this year. And be skeptical of the resort's claims at any time...
post #8 of 17
Spindrift,
Thanks for the update... That certainly doesn't sound like very good conditions. Maybe what I should do is check out Lake Louise as it's about 1hr out of Golden. That way we could ski LL if KH is a total write-off.

I checked the trail map after your comments about the lift layout. It does look like you're pretty much forced to ski down to the base to get back up top on most of the mtn. That would suck, esp if the conditions on the bottom are crap. It looks like they could use 1 more lift to service the upper mtn.
post #9 of 17

Kicking Horse Conditions

To sprindrift,

Wow! What a great report. This is why I love this forum-the truth prevails!
I just checked out KH Website and they are saying that there are winter
conditions at the summit, and spring conditions on the lower mountain.
Did you follow the advice that you gave-did you drive over to LL and ski there? I am interested in your frank opinion since I will be at the lake in two weeks. I know a lot can change in that amount of time, but I was just wondering if you had any reports about LL or SSV. I like your succinct style of writing-no BS!
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well, perception is everything, isn't it. My views of KH were tempered by the experience of skiing at Panorama, where many runs were closed and many more should have been. Bare patches, rocks, stumps, and ice on most of the runs without snowmaking. Maybe 25% of the area was really skiable.

For me, KH was a complete contrast. I skied there on Mar 2, 3 and 9, and enjoyed every day. There was new snow on several days between the 3 and the 9th, and in the bowls it was about 5" on the morning of the 9th. The most new snow I saw at Panorama was about 1/2" on the upper mountain one morning (while the bottom was rock hard from the previous night's rain). The deepest powder was in the Feuz Bowl, although the ski-out was hard and bumpy. I didn't encounter any of the rocks and stumps that Spindrift did, but perhaps we were in different areas.

Spindrift is right that entry to a number of runs, particularly in Bowl Over was through rutted traverses and bumps, and as I mentioned, the bottom part of the mountain got slushy, especially on the 9th (it was better the week before). Some runs, but by no means all, on the lower mountain were spotty in coverage, but nothing like Panorama. He is also right that one of KH's flaws is that the gondola does not have a midstation so that except for the Stairway to Heaven chair, you have to return to the base and cannot cycle on the top. Expansion plans are to put a lift from mid-mountain to access the southern part, but who knows if and when that will happen.

I'm certainly not suggesting that KH was perfect--far from it in a winter like this one. However, I didn't think that it was nearly as bad as Spindrift's report suggests. The only fault I found with the grooming was that it was limited. Certainly extra resources would help there.

I don't know what recent conditions were at LL and Sunshine. Perhaps they were far better than KH, but I do know that KH was much better than Panorama last week.

As to his views on Golden, well, nobody ever suggested that it was a cute little resort town. But the people are friendly and that's more than I can say for a lot of other places.
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobojo
Did you follow the advice that you gave-did you drive over to LL and ski there? I am interested in your frank opinion since I will be at the lake in two weeks.
We were weirder than that... we just totally skipped town and headed for Colorado.

We did peek in at Lake Louise on the way through to Calgary and the snow looked a bunch better than KH. And the scenery is tough to beat. Bottom line: we might have done well to stay at Lake Louise, but we had already put "plan B" in motion.

Based on what we saw at Lake Louise, we agreed that sometime in the next few years we'd return to ski Lake Louise, and would consider a day trip to KH if only if conditions seemed really great.

NOTE: as for reliable info regarding conditions at Lake Louise - at this point I'd take whatever L7 says about Lake Louise as the bottom line. One of those "wish I knew then what I know now" things...

To address scmdtmws' comments - I agree it is probably a matter of perspective and expectation. KH failed to meet my expectations. . I actually agree with you that Golden seems to be a friendly place. It is, however, amazingly retro-industrial with train tracks, rail yards, sawmills, etc scattered about. The pollution was truly amazing - or at least it was when I was there. And if what we were told is true, the resort folks know it. Supposedly the resort has negotiated an agreement under which at least one of the big lumber operations will move out of town - precisely because it is an esthetic (and probably health) affront to visitors. (if anyone can confirm or deny this, please chime in...). I don't need a fancy resort town to be happy. For example, I think Driggs, ID is a great place to hang out. Golden was an experience all its own though...
post #12 of 17
I was thinking about maybe going to Golden/KH for like two days before spring break is over, but after looking into it a bit, I'll probably hold it off until next season. I was also at Panaroma during super bowl weekend, and it was pretty icy and down at the base, snow was kinda slushy. Didn't really like it that much because of all the icy-ness.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift
We were weirder than that... we just totally skipped town and headed for Colorado.

We did peek in at Lake Louise on the way through to Calgary and the snow looked a bunch better than KH. And the scenery is tough to beat. Bottom line: we might have done well to stay at Lake Louise, but we had already put "plan B" in motion.

Based on what we saw at Lake Louise, we agreed that sometime in the next few years we'd return to ski Lake Louise, and would consider a day trip to KH if only if conditions seemed really great.

NOTE: as for reliable info regarding conditions at Lake Louise - at this point I'd take whatever L7 says about Lake Louise as the bottom line. One of those "wish I knew then what I know now" things...

To address scmdtmws' comments - I agree it is probably a matter of perspective and expectation. KH failed to meet my expectations. . I actually agree with you that Golden seems to be a friendly place. It is, however, amazingly retro-industrial with train tracks, rail yards, sawmills, etc scattered about. The pollution was truly amazing - or at least it was when I was there. And if what we were told is true, the resort folks know it. Supposedly the resort has negotiated an agreement under which at least one of the big lumber operations will move out of town - precisely because it is an esthetic (and probably health) affront to visitors. (if anyone can confirm or deny this, please chime in...). I don't need a fancy resort town to be happy. For example, I think Driggs, ID is a great place to hang out. Golden was an experience all its own though...
I heard the "moving the mill" story before , it's an interesting one considering that the owners of the hill are not the most popular folk in the valley and that the revenue from logging in that area goes into every household . As it stands they have had issues with keeping the mills in the past and moving a mill would almost give reason to close it with some people in this country ( the mill closes the town dies) , it's a tense subject . If anything the ski area should be treading lightly on those issues due to the fact that any future developement has to be logged by the permit holders in the area and those are the people that depend on that mill for their livelyhood . At the present time there are 3 main contractors in Golden and it's questionable if any of them would consider working for the ski area . The interesting part is who will the Gov. back , the tourism thing is getting big and being promoted in B.C. but the wood industry is the bread and butter.
As for the pollution , you must have got a good wiff of the train or a passing truck because all I ever smell in Golden is the pine and spruce pitch .
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leeroy
I heard the "moving the mill" story before , it's an interesting one considering that the owners of the hill are not the most popular folk in the valley and that the revenue from logging in that area goes into every household . As it stands they have had issues with keeping the mills in the past and moving a mill would almost give reason to close it with some people in this country ( the mill closes the town dies) , it's a tense subject . If anything the ski area should be treading lightly on those issues due to the fact that any future developement has to be logged by the permit holders in the area and those are the people that depend on that mill for their livelyhood . At the present time there are 3 main contractors in Golden and it's questionable if any of them would consider working for the ski area . The interesting part is who will the Gov. back , the tourism thing is getting big and being promoted in B.C. but the wood industry is the bread and butter.
As for the pollution , you must have got a good wiff of the train or a passing truck because all I ever smell in Golden is the pine and spruce pitch .
I tended to have similar thoughts about that comment. They take their employment pretty seriously in Golden and KH having it's name attached to a bunch of jobs walking would be a PR fiasco in that town. I think they are a ways a way from having enought clout to weather that sort of resentment.

I did see a valley cloud the other day (definitely a cloud). I really never have seen a lot of pollution through the area other than when major forest fires are burning. But if the air is still enough or cold air trapped low enough idling trains and sawmill operations could certainly do it. I don't think it's that common but field can sure get it and that's just from trains idling and their deisel generator.

It certainly isn't a resort town though and isn't likely to have that feel for a while.

One of the best freeride skiers in the world hails from there and his mother owned (one of) the strip bars in town. You just can't buy that kind of character. Leeroy might have to help me with the guy's name but he was tooling around that weekend in his hummer all decked out with Atomic and a trailer hauling 4-6 sleds. Makes for an interesting mix in a lumber/rail/trucking town.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by L7
I tended to have similar thoughts about that comment. They take their employment pretty seriously in Golden and KH having it's name attached to a bunch of jobs walking would be a PR fiasco in that town. I think they are a ways a way from having enought clout to weather that sort of resentment.

I did see a valley cloud the other day (definitely a cloud). I really never have seen a lot of pollution through the area other than when major forest fires are burning. But if the air is still enough or cold air trapped low enough idling trains and sawmill operations could certainly do it. I don't think it's that common but field can sure get it and that's just from trains idling and their deisel generator.

It certainly isn't a resort town though and isn't likely to have that feel for a while.

One of the best freeride skiers in the world hails from there and his mother owned (one of) the strip bars in town. You just can't buy that kind of character. Leeroy might have to help me with the guy's name but he was tooling around that weekend in his hummer all decked out with Atomic and a trailer hauling 4-6 sleds. Makes for an interesting mix in a lumber/rail/trucking town.
Your talking about Rex Thomas , and the other thing I remember the smell of is a wet golden retreiver named Ollie. And yes your right about the diesel fumes , actually as I recall there was very little wind through there last week which is unusual.
post #16 of 17

more Golden

i read this while in the lounge at the golden grizzly, right before the gathering (of four!) dinner.

http://www.mytelus.com/news/article....icleID=1861054

"According to the scientists, Golden offers a perfect case study because of its setting. The town lies in a valley and is consistently exposed to a number of different sources of pollution mainly from industrial emissions and inefficient wood-burning."
post #17 of 17
To give Golden the benefit of the doubt, several residents commented on the strange weather pattern while we were there. I'm also aware that not all the plumes and clouds I saw were smoke. I didn't exactly study the details (so this is just a summary of my impressions), but what I saw looked like a mix of water vapor/steam from kilns (or some sort of drying operation) and smoke from teepee burners (or similar burning facilities). Trains were also visibly contributing to the emissions. There were lots of plumes that rose maybe a third the height of the valley and then pooled down into the valley as a brown cloud. Sort of gave an impression not unlike Isengard under Saruman. However, even a moderate breeze likely would have cleared it out - at least in terms of esthetics.

As mentioned before, everyone we ran into was very friendly. Nonetheless, the town is going to have to undergo some changes if it is going to host what Ballast Needham hopes will be a world class resort.

The other issue is that the KH folks just need to do a better job of setting expectations. i.e. being honest. As many have noted, KH is not, at this point, a true destination resort. And Golden is not a resort town. KH is a "I'm gonna be a resort when I grow up" kind of place. And Golden is a very earthy working town with a proto-resort next door. And a dinky one lane bridge over the river connects the two.

I suspect most of us would ski our asses off and laugh about much of this if we arrived and found great snow conditions. Poor or mediocre conditions will leave you with a sense of "I spent how much and traveled how far for this?" And Kicking Horse does not have the grooming capacity (or skill) to get you to the point of "oh well, at least we can have some fun on the groomers." A little honesty about the current state of the resort, the town, and snow conditions, on the part of KH management would likely go a long way toward generating long-term good will.

Now, I have to say, I've never skied with anyone whose mom owned the local strip joint. I have to imagine that after a few beers some mighty fine stories would have surfaced!

Well...?????
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