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?
Just a decade old and still growing, Kicking Horse has been called “mini-Alaska” for good reason.
Ride the Red chair to the top of Red Mountain, site of western Canada’s first chairlift, opened in 1947.
Steep, sleepy, and isolated even by Canadian standards, Panorama is to many Rocky Mountain resorts as an eclectic boutique is to a box store. There’s no Gap or Starbucks. The “village” has two bars. And, like the Swiss founders who cut the first 40-degree, two-mile-long runs in 1962, the place just yodels “les Alps.” The ridgelines are ragged. The runs are long and unbroken. And the spruce-and-chink chalets hidden in the trees are more haute-route than rustic chic: They’re intimate, beer-friendly, and halfway down the hill. Still, beneath its Euro sheen, Panorama is pure Canada: core skiing, end-of-the-earth wilderness, and zero Bogner buzzkill.
Powder Day: Cruise to Taynton Bowl, former domain of RK Heli-Ski, via Outback Ridge off the Summit Quad. Shoot the 35-degree treed slots of Heli High, then drop into Star Fire for 5- to 15-foot cliff drops onto steep, open landings.
Three Days Later: Powder loiters in the Extreme Dream Zone, between the Summit Quad and Taynton Bowl. Hit north-facing Dunes and Champagne Surf for pinball action: Trees, hollows, and natural halfpipes shoot you in every direction.
Must Hit: Arc GS turns on classic Schober’s Dream, 4,000 feet of unbroken face skiing with a fall line that would make pro racers giddy.
The Stash: Sneak to south-facing Sun Bowl via upper Schober’s, and mine the wide-open C.F.I. trees. Exit via Draino and reconnect with Schober’s below.
Backcountry Access: Follow Outback Ridge to the boundary and skin 90 minutes to the summit of Mount Goldie. Ski the east shoulder’s 30-degree glades. Hike another hour west, and hop-turn 500 feet down the 35- to 45-degree Cannery Chutes. Exit via Hopeful Creek
on an obscure horse trail. For avalanche info, visit avalanche.ca.
Weather: Early- and late-season storms curl up from California, ring out over Whistler, and float Canadian fluff over Panorama. Mid-
winter can mean a Colorado Rockies–style dry spell.
Après: Head to the mountaintop Summit Hut, where owners Ray Schnerch and Jacqueline Pinsonneault sherpa up local wines, white gas, and cheese for backwoods-flavored fondue.
Fuel: Load up on baked breads and espresso at Lusti’s while a tech tunes your boards. Taynton Takeout serves tasty brats or curry wraps for lunch. Splurge on dinner at the Earl Grey Lodge (try the Japanese sea scallops and mango sorbet).
Up All Night: The Glacier has a DJ club scene, but the Elkhorn Cabin, on the mountain near the Champagne Express Quad, is the VIP room. For C$408, you and three friends can party on the porch and scope dream lines in the Purcells, where the cannibalism-as-survival-tool thriller Alive was filmed. Doze off under a mountain of quilts in front of the woodstove.
Digs: Book a room in Taynton Lodge (C$199 per weekend, per person) for easy access to Panorama’s slopeside
hot pools (800-633-2929). The Earl Grey Lodge (earlgreylodge.ca) is a Euro-style pension with an art deco flair.