Dec 04, 2008
Who wants to talk shop when there’s 8,000 acres of world-class terrain, from high-alpine glaciers to giant hemlock forests, spread across two mountains plastered by a stable maritime snowpack?
The style of Whitewater, located in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountain range, is undeniably pure, simple, and truthful.
The ridgelines are ragged. The runs are long and unbroken.
Sleepy towns like Golden, British Columbia, give birth to killer ski resorts, possibly because there aren’t enough women to distract you from the mountain. Even if there were, you’d probably ski Kicking Horse anyway because of the frequent storms and better-than-sex chutes off Terminator Peak, CPR Ridge, and Redemption Ridge. And last year, Kicking Horse unveiled Super Bowl, a formerly off -piste zone featuring 15 powder-choked chutes. On the slim chance you do fi nd a lady, you’ll be in sheet shape after days of crushing 4,000-vertical-foot laps off the Golden Eagle gondola. And if you don’t fi nd company, there’s plenty of whiskey.
Quick Tip: Hire a guide from the Big Mountain Center, which provides avalanche training and big-mountain ski coaching. The guide will know when patrol is opening the best terrain on powder days and exactly which lines will stay fresh the longest (kickinghorseresort.com).
Backcountry Access: There are two gates—one off the back of Terminator Ridge, the other near the top of the Stairway to Heaven lift. Either rewards a 15- or 20-minute boot-pack with steep chutes and open bowls. Avy conditions are posted daily near the ticket counters and at guest services.
8 a.m. Pick up an herb and cheese omelet served on an English muffin at the Kicking Horse Café at the base of the gondola. Chase it with a cup of fair-trade Kicking Horse coffee, roasted in nearby Invermere.
9 a.m. For your first run, take the gondola to the summit and traverse skier’s left. Drop the edge into Crystal Bowl, which has wide, moderately steep pitches that filter straight to the Stairway chair, where the real action starts.
10 a.m. If it’s a powder day, start on CPR Ridge by making a 180 from the gondola and traversing along the ridge to the right. Drop into the array of chutes (to skier’s left) or glades (to the right).
11 a.m. Ride the traverse to the western edge of Feuz Bowl, where the famous and hazardous Whitewall awaits. Plunge off the cornice into a 30-degree, expert-only bowl. Follow the valley floor to get back to the base.
1 p.m. Fill up on Rocky Mountain ragout—beef and game with root veggies served over egg noodles—at the Eagle’s Eye restaurant, which, at 7,700 feet, is Canada’s highest eatery. During peak times, you’ll want to make a rez.
2 p.m. You won’t find much here for jibbing—there’s only a wee beginner park—but there are some natural features along Sluiceway and Knee Deep if you hop into Bowl Over to skier’s right of the gondola.
3 p.m. The last ropes to drop are usually on Terminator Ridge. A few extra minutes of hiking will buy fresh tracks until last chair. Or find stashes in the Redemption Glades, off the Stairway lift, newly cut last season.
4 p.m. Head back to Eagle’s Eye for the signature drink, an ice-wine martini served with a frozen grape. On sunny days, the deck is packed and you can download the gondola if you get too sloshed.
7 p.m. Replenish with the massive bison osso buco at Cork’s, a short walk from the base lodge in the Copper Horse Lodge. Or venture to Golden, a 15-minute drive down the hill, and hit the reasonably priced Whitetooth Bistro for wild BC salmon and foraged forest mushrooms over linguine.
Late Night The only late-night action is down in Golden, but the scene is predominantly beer-and-barstool. The Golden Taps on 9th Avenue can get rowdy on weekends, and the Lyric Bar and Grill gets bands and DJs traveling the Trans-Canada Highway to Calgary.
Overnight Conveniently upstairs from Cork’s, the Copper Horse has a boutique-hotel feel with dark wood, dim light, in-room wi-fi, and multi-jet showers (from $195; copperhorselodge.com).