Kicking Horse Lifts & Terrain

Kicking Horse Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    1,190 - 2,450 (1,260)
  • Average Snow Fall
    7.5 metres
  • Lifts (5)
    1 Gondolas
    3 Chairs
    1 Magic Carpet
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am to 4:00pm
    Mid Dec to Mid April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 128
    Longest run – 10 km
    Expert - 15%
    Advanced - 45%
    Intermediate - 20%
    Beginner - 20%

Kicking Horse Resort Skiing Terrain

There is terrain for everyone at Kicking Horse Resort, although it’s most suited to adrenaline junkies who have a desire to be kicked by the horse.

The Kicking Horse skiing terrain consists of four large bowls (Super Bowl, Bowl Over, the central Crystal Bowl, and Feuz Bowl) that combine about two-thirds of the way down the mountain where the terrain flattens out somewhat to intermediate and then beginners’ slopes.

Kicking Horse Lifts

The main lift that spans most of the vertical of Kicking Horse Resort is the Golden Eagle Express Gondola. Unfortunately, the rest of the lift system is still in its infancy, and it’s difficult to get access to a lot of the expert terrain at the top of the mountain without hiking and traversing, and then skiing or snowboarding all the way down to the bottom to catch the gondola. There is the Stairway to Heaven chair at the top, but it’s slow and only provides access to one side of Crystal Bowl and Feuz Bowl.

There is also a magic carpet, another surface lift, and two smaller chairs that operate from the base. The Pioneer chair is a relic from many years gone by and is probably not worth riding. The resort has plans for new lifts in the future, but this is not likely in the short term.

Whilst the slopes are uncrowded, lift lines develop at the gondola, particularly on a powder day.

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets at Kicking Horse Resort used to be very inexpensive, but now they are comparable to the very high profile Canadian ski resorts. On the plus side, KHMR has a satisfaction guarantee with a snow check provided for any lift ticket returned within one hour of purchase.

Kicking Horse is on the Epic Pass, which provides limited access to KHMR.

Kicking Horse Snow

The quality of powder at Kicking Horse is often excellent. Kicking Horse has dry powder that is more typical of the Rockies powder found at Lake Louise and Sunshine. The northeast aspect is also pretty favourable to good snow conditions, and the snow off Whitewall is particularly tasty!

Not surprisingly, the quality of snow up the top of the mountain is generally superb, but considering the vertical, the snow below mid-mountain can be a little slushy, icy or somewhat bare. The snowfall stats also vary significantly, with an average season snowfall of 7.5 metres at the top and only 2.5 metres at the base.

Limited snowmaking facilities assist with the cover, and there are plans for additional snowmaking in the future.

Considering the snowpack and the steep faces at the top of the ski area, in-bounds avalanche risk minimisation is a significant undertaking for the highly experienced patrollers. The out-of-bounds backcountry areas are very avalanche prone and skiing in these areas requires significant precautions.

Kicking Horse Resort – For the Beginner

There is OK beginners’ terrain at the base of the mountain with decent progressions from the surface lifts to the Catamount chair lift, although there is one short steep-ish pitch near the bottom of the chair where beginners may pucker up!

Another green option is the 10km “It’s a Ten” run that starts at the top and weaves its way down to the base. It’s a great opportunity for beginners to gain access to the magnificent views at the top, but this run is probably suited to very confident beginners. It’s more of a trail than a wide run, and the drop off either side of the trail may frighten timid beginners. And ten kilometres of snow-ploughing will probably also exhaust most beginners!

Kicking Horse Skiing - Intermediates

There are about a dozen runs for intermediates, and a plus is that they provide long fall line skiing.  A negative for many intermediates is that they only groom some of the blue runs. Another con is the need to repeat the same couple of runs at the top of Crystal bowl in order to access the intermediate terrain in the middle of the mountain. And then you have to go down a green run for a while to get to a blue, which can become a little monotonous.

The pitch of many of the blue runs is a little steeper than other Canadian resorts and could be classified as “dark blue”. And My Blue Heaven (a black run) off the Stairway to Heaven chair is sometimes groomed and the steep fall line skiing is particularly ideal for strong intermediate skiers.

Terrain Park

If you’re looking to ride the terrain park or half-pipe, then Kicking Horse is not the mountain for you.

Advanced Skiing and Snowboarding

Many of the black runs at the Kicking Horse Resort are very steep and superbly challenging. They are relatively easy after recent snowfall, but if it hasn’t snowed in a while the black runs can be covered with waist to shoulder high moguls. These sorts of bumps can ruin knees, backs and even teeth (I’ve had my tooth fixed!).

Many of the great black lines are near the north facing CPR Ridge where you can get off the gondola and drop in anywhere off the trail. Over on the sunny aspect of Redemption Ridge are lots of great gladed lines and thankfully there’s no longer an ugly traverse to access them. The relatively new groomed trail (Redemption Ridge Traverse) along the top also provides easy access into the single black area of Feuz Bowl which provides fantastic skiing and snowboarding for experienced riders. The track can become a bit of speedway and a bit scary when you’ve got rabid hounds flying along trying to pass you to get to the best powder.

For open single diamond piste, there are a few runs near Terminator. Just follow the signs carefully for the entrances into these runs, or you might find yourself in amongst incredibly gnarly treed terrain (which experts will love).

Expert Skiing and Snowboarding

Hardcore skiers are very well catered for at Kicking Horse. There are many in-bounds chutes and steep lines available within the bowls and ridges. The couloirs vary in tightness, so if you don’t want to scare yourself unnecessarily with super narrow chutes, there are also wider chutes. Guiding is available, and this is a great way to experience some of the best couloirs without the fear of going over a cliff.

An easily accessed double black area is the Whitewall, which requires an ascent up the little stair case and then a few minutes walk. After you’ve eyed off the amazing views from the top of Whitewall (aka Whitefall), you can pick any steep line in the alpine bowls that takes your fancy.

Lines off T1 and T2 require a traverse and skate/walk, and for some extra vertical and freshies you can hike up to the peaks. The lines range from “nice” double-blacks to “nasty” double blacks, and vary in terms of the sparsity of trees.

The only limitation for the expert terrain is that it requires a long trip to get to the bottom of the resort, and if the powder further down is very heavy it can be a hard slog to get out from Super Bowl (energy that you’d rather save for the tasty steeps at the top).

For the Powder Hound

The expert runs are much less trafficked than some of the single blacks, and it’s possible to get great snow conditions even if it hasn’t snowed for a while. Obviously the further the hike away from the lifts, the fresher the tracks, and the new in-bounds Super Bowl is a classic. There are also some easily accessed out-of-bounds and backcountry skiing such as Rudi’s Bowl. As to be expected with the steep terrain, proper avalanche safety precautions are required, and the patrollers are fairly strict with the policing of this.