Kick Your Skills Into Gear With Unmatched Terrain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Alex K | BackcountryBackcountry | Featured ArticleFeatured Article
kicking horse mountain resort
Test your skills on the steep and deep terrain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo: KHMR

Known as the ‘Champagne Powder Capital of Canada’ most mountain fanatics don’t need to think twice about taking a visit to the legendary Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Mention the 3,400 acres of skiable terrain over the Dogtooth Range accompanied by the most chute skiing available in North America and a vertical drop of 4,300 feet, planning a trip to KHMR becomes an absolute no-brainer. In the 20-years since the first lifts at Kicking Horse turned, skiers and riders have had the unique opportunity to test their range of riding skills on the massive and diverse terrain available in these Purcell peaks. And if one thing stands out to everyone encountering the many bowls and ridges of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort it’s the tired legs and new confidence you’ll never leave the resort without.

Located along the infamous Powder Highway in Golden, British Columbia, KHMR boasts an average annual snowfall of over 24 feet. Cold temperatures and low humidity result in snow that powderhounds alike choose not to classify as “light” but more accurately as “absolutely blower.” It’s called the powder highway for a reason and is just one of the tasty reasons why Kicking Horse has joined the bucket list of must-ride resorts.

kicking horse ridge
Redemption Ridge offers some of the Powder Highways steepest chute skiing. Photo: KHMR

The 8 passenger Golden Eagle Express gondola functions as the resorts key artery, transporting riders directly from the base lodge up 4,314 vertical feet to the crest where the options to ski the fourth highest vertical drop in North America are endless. Descending back to the base area are three ridges separating five prominent bowls – Super Bowl, Bowl Over, Crystal Bowl, Feuz Bowl, and the newly opened Rudi’s Bowl. Each offering a spicy selection of steep chutes, wide-open alpine bowls, pillows, and a countless number of objects to jump off of and find your inner Superman. If you choose to head south from the Golden Eagle gondola you can drop directly into Bowl Over, or option to hit up Terminator peak where you can find some of most rugged terrain options on the mountain such as Truth or Dare; a selection of multiple steep couloirs which has been the chosen venue for the resorts ‘Wrangle the Chute’ big mountain contest for years.

Traveling east directly from the gondola keeps you on the CPR ridge with options heading both north and south as you move your way down. The southern aspect of CPR ridge features endless tree skiing and the prospect of finally understanding what true powder skiing is. For the more rowdy skier, the northern aspect of CPR will line you up to 16 distinct chutes each with their own name and attitude. If the titles Tunnel Vision, Tie One On and All Aboard don’t get your heart racing just wait until you drop in.

 “Kicking Horse has an endless bounty of rugged terrain, from steep technical, ridges to wide-open alpine bowls. It’s THE place to go to test your skills, and fitness, on some of the most diverse and continuous vertical drop in North America”

-Eric Lee O’Brien, Founder, and CEO of Snowledge

hiking at kicking horse mountain resort
A few short hikes will take you to world-class backcountry style terrain within the resorts boundaries. Photo: KHMR

If you opt to head north from the Golden Eagle Express past the CPR ridge you’ll enter Crystal bowl and some of the resorts less intimidating upper mountain terrain. The start of the nearly 4-1/2 mile long run ‘It’s A Ten’ starts here and will wind you down the mountain from tip to tail back to the gondola. Just don’t let the greens and blues here confuse you, take the Stairway to Heaven chair from the bottom of Crystal to the top of Feuz Bowl where you’ll be staring, and likely drooling, over the world-class big mountain terrain below your tips. The Whitewall, Ozone and Rudi’s Bowl zones are considered to some as the finest inbounds backcountry style terrain you will find in North America.

Of the 85+ inbounds chutes you can find at Kicking Horse, Feuz Bowl is where you’ll find the lines to test your skills and check your ego. The bowl rounds out into 18 steep chutes lining the north-facing Redemption Ridge while 9 more creep down the east-facing Whitewall. Finding the steep, deep, technical big mountain line for you is relatively easy with vantage points of both walls easily accessible from the top of the chair. Once you finish, take the short Middle Ridge boot pack from the bottom of Feuz Bowl back up to access the newly opened Rudi’s Bowl and polish off your run with even more vertical.

Topping off the north end of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the crown jewel of big mountain terrain, Ozone. When you first put eyes on this highest peak of the resort at 8,218ft you immediately understand why it has been chosen again and again as a competition venue for the Freeride World Tour, the worlds premier professional big mountain skiing and snowboarding contest. Ozone was previously closed to the public for skiing until the 2018 season when the resort decided to unleash this monster of a zone to the frothing local and visiting guests that have been hoping to test their legs on it since first glance. Big lines, massive cliffs and steep chutes, what else could you ask for in inbounds terrain? Kicking Horse Mountain Resort takes away the need for a helicopter or hours of touring to put you on the summit of North America’s best ski terrain.

Don’t let the terrain of Kicking Horse scare you away, the Big Mountain Centre can pair you with an experienced instructor and guide who will take you straight to the goods. By enlisting one of the KHMR professional guides you will take away the guesswork of managing terrain and safely make your way down with lap after lap of fun. Kicking Horse also offers the additional opportunity to heli-ski directly from the base for a deep powder experience with Purcell Heli-Skiing. One, two, and three-day packages are available for up to 6 guests in a private helicopter to access untouched snow and awe-inspiring views.

“Kicking Horse is amazing. Almost every run you take is around 4K of vertical off the Gondola. They have a little bit of everything as far as terrain goes. Also to note is the unreal setting of epic mountains Kicking Horse is surrounded by

-Jedidiah Kravitz, 3rd place 2020 Wrangle The Chute FWQ 4*

The experience of choosing your way down Kicking Horse and testing your skills on its terrain is only magnified by the pure beauty and grandeur of its surroundings. Uniquely located at the intersection of four different mountain ranges including Kootenay National Park, the vistas are unmatched along the powder highway. The Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at the top of the Golden Eagle gondola offers stunning mountain scenery accompanied by cold beer and great food.

eagles eye KHMR
The Eagles Eye Restaurant at the top of the Golden Eagle Express offers unmatched views of the Dogtooth Range. Photo: KHMR

By The Numbers:

  • 120+ runs – 20% beginner, 20% intermediate, 45% advanced, 15% expert
  • 3,486+ skiable resort acres
  • 8,218 ft. top elevation
  • 4,314 ft. vertical
  • 3,900 ft. base elevation
  • 24 ft. average snowfall
  • 85+ inbounds chutes
  • 5 alpine bowls

Visit the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort’s website to learn more about the mountain and find the best way to book your trip. To make the most of your visit, get your legs in shape. You’ll be glad you did.

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