Kicking Horse in Golden, BC, Canada
Well, it's been a while since I posted so may as well break the ice again here.
Kicking Horse resort, located by the town of Golden, British Columbia, is pretty sick! Typical BC resort where the runs are not clearly defined like our resorts on the Alberta side. I find that to be a good thing, personally, if you like to avoid groomers.
The resort has a great portion of advanced to expert runs, which must first be accessed off the gondola. So it would be in the best interest of the person just starting off to avoid the temptation of using the gondola, and instead use the Catamount chairlift instead (which will take you to the gentler slopes of the resort).
Taking the gondola up the mountain brings you up to a muster point where you can drop off either through glades toward Terminator Peak, head back towards the restaurant (located near the top of the gondola) to bypass the glades to head down Terminator. Better still, on the opposite side of the gondola you can either drop down some steep chutes on CPR Ridge, or head towards a very narrow, curved green run (note to beginners: this is a very narrow run with a large influx of people heading down the same path as you...with cliffs on both sides of the run, lol) which will take you towards Paradise Chair. Drop in anywhere along the cliffed edges to hit some mogul runs and enjoy the powder as you head towards Paradise Chair.
Once you are on Paradise Chair, you'll notice off to your right hand side a VERY narrow cliff edge bordering alongside a ridge (Redemption Ridge). We will get to this in a sec, but for now take the chair up to the top of Paradise and drop into Chrystal Bowl...icy and windy at the top but once you're in 20 feet it's powder time. Unfortunatley this can get tracked out pretty quick so now we are going to make it back down to Paradise Chair and take it back up.
Once back at the top of Paradise Chair, head towards the ridge you noticed earlier and hug it tight (you'll know what I mean when you see it). My favourite drop point is the very first opening on the ridge. It's a double black diamond called "Certainty". It has a really sketchy entry point as there is a large boulder face in your way and some rocky drops (you'll see a lot of people turn away at this ridge and move down towards lower ridges). Once you're in though, you have some mad steep runs because now you are on Whitewall!! Careful here as there have been some avalanche deaths as of late. Last time I was there, two skiers were killed in an avalanche 3 days prior. We could still see their tracks where they had dropped in, then the washout of snow, and the avalanche pile below. This was only several hundred feet away from our drop in point. (Avalanche deaths) Use caution. When I return next season, I'll hike it to the summit of Whitewall and drop in there. So stoked for that!!!
The bonus to hitting Redemption Ridge is that from the top of Whitewall to nearby the base resort you will not see very many people on that side of the ridge. If you're riding in a group (ideal here) take the time to hit some of the natural features (mainly large, snow covered boulders. The snow is deep and soft so the landing is pretty sweet (and my version of landing is either on my back or on my head). The only thing that does suck about it is that you end up having to take the ganjola back up and traverse back to Paradise (guess it's not bad considering how much riding time you actually can get in there).
Quick note: Off the green run on the top of the gondola (the narrow one from above, lol) you can drop in for back country riding. This is not an official area and you go down at your own risk (duh!). Once you're in, you've got to hike out. There have been a few deaths here as well, the most notable being a couple that had become lost for 10 days (the wife had died). Tragic but avoidable situation had they been properly trained and prepared (too little food, no means of making a fire and failure to stay by their SOS signal). Out of Bounds death.Just be smart cause there is some sweet pow here...
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