by Abby Cooper
If you could pick a month, any month, to visit Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (KHMR), when would it be?
The correct answer is March. KHMR is nestled just 9 miles from historic Golden, BC and the resort experiences its biggest and most frequent storms in March, annually on average. April ranks a close second as a prime time to visit with longer days and slightly warmer temps. If the draw of frequent snowstorms isn’t enough for you (and trust me, they will be), the mountain also offers spectacular springtime events that you don’t want to miss out on, including numerous outdoor concerts that are sure to fuel endless après.
For those who are considering making the trek to Golden & KHMR this spring, here is what you should know about the mountain…
Skiing at Kicking Horse:
There are over 130 marked runs on the resort. Three predominate and gorgeous ridgelines adorn the resort from top to bottom. Crystal Bowl, Bowl Over, Feuz Bowl and Super Bowl are going to give you googly eyes; be prepared to be smitten by these four delicious bowls that all feed right back to the base of the gondola. We’re talking about 4,200 vertical feet of steep, gnarly skiing via gondola. The ultimate terrain list doesn’t stop there—Kicking Horse has beautiful basins, wide gullies and narrow couloirs that will get your adrenaline pumping. KHMR boasts the 4th most vertical in North America with a whopping 2,750 acres of skiable terrain to boot. If that doesn’t impress you, the fact that they have the most chutes over any other Canadian resort should win you over; 85 inbounds.
You can charge big lines in the alpine or find powder stashes in the trees. One thing that we love about this place is that, although it is “family friendly” we can guarantee you will be able to escape the ski school rush and the family picnics that take place in some spots. Less than 25% of the mountain is made up of beginner and intermediate runs, leaving over 75% of the mountain too intimidating for your average, pizza-pie-ing crowd. Don’t get us wrong, beginners and intermediates have lots of room, I mean 25% of 2,750 acres is plenty. It does mean that you have an unruly amount of terrain at your disposal, though—and yes, it’s steep. In case you haven’t heard, Kicking Horse is known for its steep and deep terrain. I’m pretty sure that saying was developed by two guys with snow caked beards while standing in the Golden Eagle gondi line. Revelstoke might have the reputation of dry powder, but Kicking Horse is a fierce competitor bringing in an average, just shy, of 700 cm of the dry stuff per season at summit.
Also, the run titled “It’s A Ten,” is exactly that, ten kilometers of pure groomer goodness. It’s a green trail, yes, but this cruiser runs T-to-B with side hits aplenty that will make you giddy and leave you with serious leg burn. Without a doubt, you will be tempted to drop into other delicious terrain on the way down, but we recommend you cross this Golden special off the to-do list. It’s a must, really. In case you didn’t know, instant bragging rights come with skiing 10k straight. Bonus: the views are spectacular.
For the hardest of hardcore folk, KHMR will host the 7th annual Wrangle the Chute event on March 27 and 28. Skiers stack along Terminator Ridge ready to drop into “Truth and Dare” for the line of a lifetime. This inbounds contest is the only 4-Star Freeride World Qualifier in Canada, and the last 4-Star event on the North American circuit. You can expect to see some darn competitive lines from some of the most talented freeskiers out there, all trying to earn their spot for the 2015-16 FWT. Whether you are hoping to compete for a cash prize (registration: February 5 – March 5) or admire the adrenaline junkies from the sidelines, Wrangle the Chute will not disappoint. Watch the biggest, most vertical terrain get slayed by the pros from the Gondola, or hang out by the finish corral to celebrate with the crowd and judges. One thing is for sure: the after party is something you won’t want to miss. One of the most beloved DJs among Canadian skiers, Skratch Bastid, will be present with his infamous turntables accounted for. FREESKIER’s own Henrik Lampert will also be on-site covering the action.
Beyond Wrangle the Chute, (as aforementioned) springtime shenanigans are in no short order at KHMR. The first two weekends in April (4th – 5th, 11th – 12th) offer live outdoor concerts at the base of the mountain. The annual Dummy Downhill and Slush Cup will be in full swing, and you’ll be sure to know thanks in part to the neon, retro gear apparent on the mountain both day and night. This year, KHMR has recruited Shred Kelly and Good for Grapes to serenade you spring skiers, a solid choice I might add.
The Bottom Line:
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a world class resort without feeling like the whole world is there in the lift line with you. Heck, the views alone (try dining at the 7,700 ft Eagle Eye restaurant) are well worth the trip, and then some. In total contrast, if you’re down with metal and locals be sure to stop by the Riverhouse for a brew or two. On your way there, you can’t miss the iconic wooden bridge that symbolizes the hard working logging industry that sparked development of the town. Golden is filled with people who are passionate about where they live. It may not be the polished ski town of Jackson Hole, but it is a true gem and most definitely should be on your radar for a spring jaunt. Whether you’re chasing pow, following the FWT and FWQ series, or just want to party with Canada’s finest, look no further than Kicking Horse. Killer accommodations packages are available if you’re keen to find ’em. So load up the skis, a to-go cup of legendary Kicking Horse coffee and get after it, friends. This will be a spring trip for the books.