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My first visit to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (KHMR) was in 2001 when the
resort was being redeveloped from the former Whitetooth Ski Area.  A brand
new 11,266’ gondola had been installed as well as a small day lodge at the
former Whitetooth Ski Area the year prior. We stopped by his ski area
perched high above the Kicking Horse River Valley as a destination stop on
tour from Banff to Fernie, when we hit various ski areas along the way on
the powder highway, including Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, Fernie and
Kimberly.

Of all of the region’s ski areas, Kicking Horse seems to be is the most
rugged, dramatic and has the steepest, most adrenaline-pumping sustained
pitches in it’s four huge in-bounds bowls.  The bowls boast some of the
steepest terrain I’ve ever skied and the powder was thigh deep in 2001. We
could only ski 5 runs that day, since we had to ski all 4133’ every run in
deep powder. That much vertical can really make your legs scream.  It
really kicked our asses.  After that incredible day, we knew we had to go
back and spend a few days to fully enjoy this mountain by experiencing it’s
many chutes along it’s high ridges.

Unfortunately upon our return in 2015, El Nino brought in the Pineapple
Express. It rained and froze the week prior and the skiing was not at all
soft or deep. Since we did not check in with El Nino before booking the
trip, we ended up going out there during a very dry snow year. Our dreams
to ski deep powder in those steep bowls evaporated. Despite the less than
stellar ski conditions we did manage to get the adrenaline flowing in those
steep alpine bowls.

During the 2015 trip we seemed to have had the whole place to ourselves in
the mid-week holiday period. The low-snow year kept the crowds away, and
during some of the 12 minute gondola rides we would not see another person.
The vast terrain at Kicking Horse includes over 2800 acres spanning 4 very
large in-bound bowls with ridges that give you access to the steepest lines.

Magnificent terrain[image:
10431441_10153111367439660_1448580328233160107_n.jpg]

The Gondola dropped us off at 7700’ on the divide of 2 bowls, Bowl Over and
Crystal Bowl. The north-facing slopes held the best snow boasting dry
carveable chalky conditions. This was fun stuff and we found similar
conditions in Super Bowl and Fuez Bowl.  Groomed sections in the middle of
the bowls gave us fast lines to ski on a nice corduroy surface.

The Stairway to Heaven lift, which was built in 2002, rises to over 8000’
and gives access to the Whitewall of the Fuez Bowl and the north-facing
chutes off Redemption Ridge. A couple of dozen metal stairs followed by a
steep boot pack gets you to the top of the ridge. On the day we were there,
the bootpack was icy and treacherous. We had to keep focus on good footing
and upward motion. One misstep could have led to a really bad fall. This is
just one of many challenging access points to fantastic terrain.  Another
hike that we did not attempt in the firm conditions was a boot ladder with
a rope assist.


Crystal Bowl from the Stairway to Heaven Chair[image:
10422516_10153092426954660_8551356902276584148_n.jpg]

The best part about being high in the mountains is the view.  The view from
the top of Stairway to Heaven is a breathtaking 360 panorama though we were
left sucking wind by the strenuous elevation gain and thin air, we were
able to revel the majesty of the mountains.

View from Heaven[image: 1374970_10153090221089660_1604057715477440628_n.jpg]



The descent of the Whitewall was the steepest and longest drop we found,
producing many super turns down a pitch that really holds your attention.


Fuez Bowl

[image: 10996820_10153111351734660_8038387021772450588_o.jpg]

The Redemption Ridge takes you to the chute of your desire with the help of
gravity.  We stuck to the north facing chute which dropped us into Fuez
bowl between the rocky outcroppings.  The stiff, styrofoam snow skied well
in these bowls.

Looking into chute into Feuz Bowl from Redemption Ridge[image:
11021175_10152573608066566_2353169020252256904_n.jpg]

Skiing into a north-facing chute off Redemption Ridge[image:
10917292_10153091647424660_6147569995266907958_n.jpg]



The hike up and over to Super Bowl, the bowl farthest to skier’s right, is
a worthwhile adventure. A short hike will get you to the bowl, and there
are additional hikes to get to the chutes on the T1 and T2 ridges, some
sketchier than others. Since the mountain was devoid of new snow, we stuck
to the north faces and the less scary hikes. On a good powder day with a
deep snowpack there are a lot more skiable lines and not as much exposed
rock.

Since our first visit, the base area has been developed into a nice large
patio with new cafes, bar and shops. The Double Black Diamond Cafe has
delicious soups and sandwiches and we enjoyed a steaming hot mocha topped
with whipped cream in a mug at the tables outside the cafe in the
sunshine.  The Peaks Grill offers poutine and mouth watering Bloody Ceasars
(Bloody Mary with clam juice, spices, vegetable garnish). This is a great
place for apres ski until the sun drops behind the mountains. For a fancier
meal with a view, head to the highest restaurant in Canada, the Eagle’s Eye
Restaurant at the top of the Gondola.

View from the Black Diamond Cafe[image:
10985292_10153092429864660_5708293971870161954_o.jpg]




A nice variety of lodging options are located right at the base of the
mountain, including a boutique hotel, condos with private hot tubs, and
luxury homes. If you are on a tight budget and going “dirtbag style” less
expensive motels are down in Golden, just a 10 minute drive from the
mountain. We found a nice condo on AirBNB with a private hot tub that had
very comfortable beds and plenty of room for the 3 of us.

Kicking Horse is an expert skier’s dream and a place we must return, but
not until powdery conditions are back.



Come back when there is fresh powder[image:
14380_10153091646664660_1415362248335447613_n.jpg]

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