Have you been kicked by the horse? Your answer is likely to be “yes” if you ski or snowboard one of the many black or double black diamond chutes or bowls at Kicking Horse Ski Resort. It has a great reputation for being hard core and many an expert has been humbled here. The mountain cites 45% black runs and 15% double-black diamond runs, although some of the single black diamond runs would be considered double blacks elsewhere. The peaks at Kicking Horse were once only available to lucky heli-skiers, and now us mere mortals can access this great terrain.
Where is Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (KHMR)?
Kicking Horse is a new ski resort village that opened in 2000. It’s located 14km outside the logging town of Golden, in British Columbia, Canada. It’s about a 2.5 to 3 hour drive from Calgary, and is about 90km west of Banff
. The location of Kicking Horse is ideally situated to produce light dry powder. It’s all about quality not quantity at Kicking Horse, as there’s only an average annual snowfall of 7m at the top of the mountain.
Ski and Snowboard Terrain
The in-resort Kicking Horse ski terrain
is 2,800 acres. The top of the mountain consists of four main bowls and many ridges that fan out into one main face, providing a total of 120 named runs. Kicking Horse boasts significant vertical at 1,260m feet, the 4th longest in North America (1.8 metres less than Jackson Hole), but for some, this amount of vertical can be rather annoying.
The resort is in its infancy and only has four chairlifts, two of which are used solely by beginners. The main lift from bottom to top is a high speed gondola which allows access to the huge variety of terrain for experts at the top of the mountain. Further down the mountain it flattens out to intermediates, and then beginners’ territory, and if you want to remain on the upper mountain your choices are limited. There’s the slow Stairway to Heaven chair near the top that only services one ridge, otherwise your only other option is to ski right to the bottom to catch the gondola again.
There’s some talk of adding new lifts or a mid-station for the gondola at some stage. Recently the main focus of development has been on the real estate front, rather than improving the skiing. In addition to lifts, additional snow-making facilities on the lower slopes would also be beneficial, but there’s also talk of the arrival of this over the next few years.
Just because this mountain has awesome expert terrain, doesn’t mean that it’s not also suited to others. There’s enough terrain for beginners to improve their skills at the base of the mountain, and the 10km “It’s a Ten” run from top to bottom. There are plenty of runs for intermediates, but currently they’ll need to repeat the same two runs at the top through Crystal bowl in order to access the intermediates terrain in the middle of the mountain. Experts are very well catered for, and there’s also some easily accessed out-of-bounds and backcountry skiing. As to be expected with the steep terrain, proper avalanche safety precautions are required.
Kicking Horse Accommodation
The village is growing quickly but is still very small. There are various on-mountain Kicking Horse accommodations
, many of which have the fantastic convenience of ski-in ski-out or only a short walk. Cheaper alternatives are available down in Golden if you’re happy to catch the bus or drive up each day.
for a list of properties that can booked online
There are a few on-mountain eateries and it’s essential to spoil yourself at least once with lunch or dinner at the Eagle Eye restaurant, which is perched up on the mountain top. There are a few bars on-mountain, but there’s probably more action down in Golden.
The other Kicking Horse facilities
are also fairly minimal, but quite adequate considering the number of visitors. The amenities include equipment hire and a couple of ski/board shops that also sell a huge range of Kicking Horse souvenirs. The ski school has top notch instructors, so if you want to progress your skiing to ride those steeps, this is the place to learn.
Why Ski at Kicking Horse?
The development of this resort is only in the early stages, and it has soooooooo much potential. New lifts and snowmaking will improve the skiable terrain significantly, but don’t wait too long until you visit, because with the development will come the crowds. And don’t forget to sharpen your edges before arriving in Kicking Horse – this mountain is on steroids!
Kicking Horse is commonly compared to the neighbouring Revelstoke Mountain Resort
, partially because it is also in a developmental phase, but also due to similarities in the significant vertical and pitch of the mountain. The Kicking Horse lift infrastructure might not be as good as that at Revelstoke, but the snow quality and terrain are much better at KHMR. Steep open bowls, well gladed trees and dry powder – absolutely perfect!
Powerhounds have awarded Kicking Horse the following Best Canada Ski Resort
awards: "Best Steeps"; "Best Uncrowded Slopes"; and "Best Out-of-Bounds".
Multi-Resort Tours that include Kicking Horse
||Heart & Soul Tour | 9 Days | Alberta + BC
Check out Lake Louise & Sunshine whilst staying in picturesque Banff, Alberta & then head to BC for the steep & deep at Kicking Horse. For intermediate skiers & boarders & above.
||Pure Powder Adventure | 9 Days
Check out some of Canada's best powder skiing destinations including Sunshine & Lake Louise (Banff, Alberta) & Fernie, Castle Mountain & Kicking Horse in BC.
||Canada BIG Mountains Tour | 10 Nights
Find out what all the fuss is about at Revelstoke Mountain Resort - Canada's new "big mountain". More vertical than Whistler; steep & deep and get kicked by the horse at Kicking Horse resort
Skier Improvement Packages & Tours
||Ultimate Freeride Tour | Luxury | 10 Days
One of the most amazing tours you will find anywherw! Includes heliskiing, skidoo accessed bc, KH guided side country all with an Olympian & Olympic coach to help you improve your technique.
||Banff Long Weekender | 5 Days
Ski 4 of the Canadian Rockies premier powder skiing zones including Lake Louise, Sunshine, Norquay & Kicking Horse whilst taking your skiing & snowboarding to a whole new level.