By Ryan Creary

What was once a “one-chair, open on weekends only” hill has quickly expanded to the upper echelon of Canadian resorts. Situated two and a half hours from Calgary, Alberta in the small mountain town of Golden, British Columbia, you’ll find Kicking Horse. Imagine the steep and gnarly terrain of Whistler without the glitz and glam of a pimped-out resort town. It’s a freerider’s dream come true.

The beauty of Kicking Horse is its backcountry. Big and steep is the best way to describe it, with a snow pack that shares many of the same sketchy characteristics of the rest of the Canadian Rockies. Huge cliffs, scary cornices, and supersized chutes are in abundance with an ease of access that doesn’t get much better. But be prepared and definitely know the rules of the game before heading out of bounds.

 

The Golden Eagle Express gondola shoots riders 4,000 feet skyward to the summit. If there’s fresh snow, hightail it to CPR ridge-a short traverse that deposits you atop some of the best inbounds chutes anywhere. If you’re lucky, patrol will open these lines later in the day for another incredible run after everyone else is too bagged. And for booters, check out the cornices and natural windlips that form along the ridgeline of My Blue Heaven.

While Kicking Horse receives plenty of dumps, it also gets the infamous Rocky Mountain high-pressure systems. Shredding under brilliant blue skies can last for days, and with good timing, the snow will start to pound just as you pillage the last of the freshies. Sick terrain and high-quality pow-too good to be true? You’ll just have to check it out for yourself … and get here before everyone else does, because it won’t be long now!

StatsAverage annual snowfall: 275 inchesSummit elevation: 8,033 feetVertical drop: 4,133 feetNumber of lifts: 4Shreddable acres: 4,000 Pipes: NopeParks: NopeSnowskate parks: NopeLights: NopeNearby skateparks: Millennium Skatepark in Calgary (one of the largest in North America)

“Kicking Horse is like that secret spot you don’t want to tell anyone about but have to because it’s just too sick to keep to yourself. A fifteen-minute hike gets you some of the best riding in the Canadian Rockies-champagne pow and lots of it. Nice people, too!”-Andrew Hardingham

“Golden is a great little town with a big mountain-awesome runs, not too busy, still-friendly staff, and a relaxed atmosphere. Bring your own girls, though.”-Jon Cartwright