I knew 5 years between visits to Kicking Horse was too long. A couple of top-to-bottom warm-ups, scoping out lines for later exploration, refreshed my memory of the epic terrain. Conditions were much better than my first trip here years ago though (it was opening weekend), and it was instantly noticeable how good the mid-mountain groomers were. Long, rolling, pitching wonders, they begged for high speed, especially as you had every run to your self.
What followed was two days of picking lines off CPR Ridge and dropping into Fuse Bowl. The north facing steeps were in excellent condition. It just took a little caution on the traverses to enter the chutes – ‘thar be rocks’. And twigs. And roots. Nothing nasty – my skis even escaped with only a few scratches from the whole trip. On the way down to the gondola, we alternated between enticing, soft bumps and high speed ripping. It was a helluva lot of fun.(pics here).
These were the two days I really fell in love with my new Salomon Lords I demo-ed them at Whistler twice before buying, and really enjoyed them, but there was really only fairly hardpacked groomers and a few minor off-trail excursions that could be used to test tem on. So I gambled a little bit, and got first payback at Schweitzer a few weeks ago on a powder day. No surprise they excelled in those conditions.
On the steep chutes off CPR Ridge though, you need a trusty friend strapped to your feet. One that’s going to sink an edge on 45%,firm snow, and be as stable and solid as a rock when you jump turns in highly unpredictable conditions. The Lords did all this, while retaining their lightness and snappiness in the turns. It was almost as good as having my trusty IM 82s on. I need to demo the new model of those.
The other massive change in five years was that a really pleasant base village has emerged from the parking lots of old. Good quality condos and lodges, a few decent places to eat, and even a friendly pub made the mountain base a great place to stay. Ok – it would’ve been better if the condo hot tubs had worked. Or they had wireless Internet (note to Kicking Horse – this is the 21st Century). And actually, if there had been a few more people around. Everywhere was deserted by 7pm – in mid-week in early February. With a deep base and good weather and conditions. It was all a bit weird.
But finally – note to self – get back there next year if the snow falls. There’s still plenty of chutes to explore. And it’s so near Revelstoke.
2 days: 7500m, 9100m
Season Totals: 21 days, 161,600 vertical metres. 4 powder days