Glorious Conditions at Kicking Horse Welcome Early Risers
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Editors note: (January 2018) post opening, Kicking Horse has stayed near the top of the year-to-date snowfall list.
The sun still had another 90 minutes before it would light up the base area and the first ride on the gondola was still two hours away – but that didn’t deter the crowds from gathering. As old and new friends gathered in the dark at 7 a.m., the music and single light from the lift shack created a party mood. After all, there was reason to celebrate, it was the count down to the first run of the bonus weekend at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
People gathered from all over western Canada for the event on Saturday. We met a car-load of stubble-faced snowboarders who drove all night from Saskatoon, Sask., to stand in that line. A family from Whitefish, Mont. were right behind them in the line.
Why? “The early bird gets the pow,” says the bearded guy from the prairies.
Kicking Horse has seen more than four metres (13 feet) of snow pile up already this season – it averages about eight metres (24 feet) over an entire season. Video on the resort Instagram and Twitter feed showed smiling patrollers wrestling with all the powder.
So, hell, yeah there was good reason to be in that line. With 76 of the 120 runs open, it wouldn’t matter to most of the enthusiasts if they got first gondola. But what if you could win your own gondola for the day, and lunch at the top in Eagle’s Eye Restaurant? All it took was a donation to the Golden Food Bank and you had a chance. The winners who eagerly went to the front of the line had purchased reams of tickets to get that bragging right. The rest of us cheered them on.
Clear skies and temperatures just below zero met us as we reached the summit. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, stopped to admire the stunning 360-degree view of the peaks crusted in white bliss. But the joyful cries of excitement of the fearless as they popped into Crystal Bowl and Bowl Over quickly pulled us from the sightseeing. The pow was calling.
The Stairway to Heaven chairlift was instantly filled with powder hounds heading for the glades into Crystal Bowl. Dropping into the double blacks in the Feuz Bowl would have to wait until noon when the patrollers finally coiled the rope.
At the top of the mountain and down to mid-mountain, the powder was insanely good and believe it or not, on Sunday we were still finding pockets of untouched powder. The resort however is working around the clock to get the last pitch ready for the official opening next weekend. Snow guns are blasting the bottom pitch to hopefully hide any snow snakes and rocks we pulled up over the last two days. Mother Nature is doing her best to restock the bowls at the top.
Friday, Dec. 8, is the official opening and it will be just as exciting as the bonus weekend. I won’t be waiting at 7:30 like last weekend, but I will be there before the sun comes up. And the bearded guy from Saskatoon will probably be there, too.