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 the Kicking Horse Ski Resort. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort 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)?
The Kicking Horse Ski Resort is 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 150km west of Banff
Kicking Horse Ski and Snowboard Terrain
The in-resort Kicking Horse skiing
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 128 named runs. Ski Kicking Horse for the significant vertical of 1,260m feet, the 4th longest in North America (1.8 metres less than Jackson Hole), and your legs will be toast!
The resort 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 Snow
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.
Kicking Horse Accommodations
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 being 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.
Kicking Horse Accommodations Listings
(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 ski resort facilities are also fairly minimal, but quite adequate considering the number of visitors. The amenities include equipment rental 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.
Kicking Horse Heli Skiing
The Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is definitely not crowded, but if you want to completely get away from the “masses” and scores mountains of fresh tracks, you can head out heli skiing with Purcell Heli Skiing
who are based out of nearby Golden. It doesn’t matter if you’re a heli ski virgin. Purcell Heli Skiing has packages that can cater for first-timers as well as those that are already completed addicted to the ecstasy of heli skiing.
Why Ski 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 Mountain Resort 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".
Tours that include Kicking Horse