Powder Highway road trip part 2: Bluebird in Kicking Horse
AFTER A PAINFUL FAREWELL to our compadre Carlo Alcos in Fernie, filmmaker Brian Chu and I pushed on to our second stop on BC’s Powder Highway: the tiny town of Golden, BC and Kicking Horse Resort. The drive from Fernie to Golden was a 3.5-hour straight shot on long, flat stretches of road through beautiful forests and partially frozen lakes. This part of BC is wide open country with nothing around.
As we closed in on Golden, the sun was setting in the valley and the bright orange alpenglow on the snowy peaks of Kicking Horse highlighted the enormity of the mountains. Much like Fernie, Golden has one main drag and a lot of character. It’s also a year-round adventure center for people who love the outdoors: flyfishing and mountain biking in the summer, snowmobiling and some of BC’s best skiing in the winter. In a year when the US ski season never showed up, we were here for the skiing and riding.
We settled into the Kicking Horse River Lodge and sat downstairs in the comfy commons area in front of a hot fireplace. It was cold outside and the snow conditions were excellent. Golden is so small that you can walk from one end of it to the other in 15 minutes. We grabbed a plump, juicy steak dinner — cooked to perfection — at Whitetooth Mountain Bistro and had a couple drinks at a local dive bar next to the river.
We awoke to almost zero visibility and at first I was kind of bummed. Kicking Horse is known for its steep, hikeable terrain and I figured most of that would be closed. But as we wound our way up the mountain road to the resort, we emerged from the low-lying valley fog and into a bluebird sunny day.
Kicking Horse is a beast of a mountain. Just three lifts and one gondola (which I recommend skiing the entire day if lift lines aren’t long), serve up over 4,000 vertical feet of advanced terrain. It seems like the resort has done a fair bit of work to carve out some intermediate runs, but when I looked at the trail map, all I saw was black diamonds. In all, there are over 80 in-bound double-black diamond chutes.
We met up with some local girls and spent the entire day exploring different super steep chutes and hidden powder stashes along the main ridges of the mountain. To finish off the day we hiked “T2” (they named their peaks Terminator 1 and Terminator 2), which is so steep at some points that there are fixed climbing ropes to assist on the hike. The final run with our new friends was epic and we got some knee-deep powder through some steep chutes off the far side of T2.
I was so fired up after that run, I told Brian that I’d meet him at the bottom, flew down, and caught the last chair up the “Stairway to Heaven” lift. I did the short hike off the top of Stairway and paused for a couple minutes to enjoy the beautiful scenery before kicking into my bindings and finishing the day with a burner down some more chutes.
Next stop on the Powder Highway…Revelstoke!
[Editor’s note: This content was produced in partnership with Kootenay Rockies Tourism.]