Fall colours are in full display as I write this post and the sliding season is still a full two months away. But because Golden BC’s world class ski resort is the reason our family even starting coming to Golden in the first place, I felt it only appropriate to include a piece about skiing at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in my inaugural set of posts.
Kicking Horse has a reputation as an expert mountain. While that’s certainly a rightly earned reputation, it’s not the whole story.
Our first season downhill skiing at Golden’s Kicking Horse Mountain Resort was 2009/2010. Our kids were 7 and 8 and were still figuring out how to get from ‘the pizza’ to ‘the french fries.’ Pole planting was more a hazard than a skill and black diamond runs were still a solid set of lessons away.
In other words, Golden is basically where our kids learned to ski. So while there is certainly plenty of challenging terrain to choose from at KHMR, beginner and intermediate skiers do just fine here as well. That said, the addition of a new lift or two, especially on the side of the resort where the old double chair from Golden’s original Whitetooth ski hill still creaks along on weekends, would definitely help make the mountain that much more friendlier more accessible to intermediate skiers. That's just my two-cents anyway.
Now, at 13 and 14 years old our kids are faster and way more capable skiers than their parents. Part of this no doubt comes from the fact that they've had good training. But a lot of it also has to do with the quality of the terrain and snow conditions they've been exposed to. Growing up skiing at Kicking Horse teaches you what 'big mountain' really means.
Our kids now have progressed from run-of-the-mill ski school lessons to Golden’s very own Big Mountain competitive freestyle team – Golden Alpine Rippers (GNAR) – where they work with amazingly talented coaches on picking lines, taking air and skiing difficult terrain with ever greater fluidity. They have learned to confidently handle anything the mountain has to offer, including the hikes to T1, T2 and Whitewall and scary-to-me tree runs like B4 North.
While I prefer to stay well away from tree runs, especially the tighter ones (which is why you won't catch me anywhere near B4 North), I do so love the hikes. They allow outdoorsy lite types like myself to access a small bit of what it might feel like to ski in the backcountry but within the protected confines of a ski resort and without having to hike any farther than just the top ridge and/or peak you want to ski. All it takes is maybe 20 to 45 minutes of hiking (depending on where you're headed) to get that amazing feeling of being on top of the world and in the slack country.
T1 and T2 are the most popular peaks. The ”T” stands for Terminator so yes, it is still classic Kicking Horse advanced/expert terrain, although the T2 run is definitely gentler...but it's a longer and more challenging hike so it's always a bit of a trade-off. Whichever route you choose, the experience is over 4500 feet of continuous vertical (expect one pitch after another, virtually no coasting or cat tracks), often with few other skiers around, before reaching the bottom and relaxing on the gondola as it takes you back up to the top of the mountain.
It’s the outdoorsy lite version of earning your turns. Easier. Simpler. But still with incredible skiing, top-of-the-world views and a small taste of the slack country. Sounds pretty much perfect to me.