I’m in the morning line for the gondola at Kicking Horse resort, the under the radar British Columbia resort that boasts 3486 skiable acres with 1260 metres of vertical. 

The best storm of the season is rolling through and has already dumped 126cm in 7 days. It’s going to be a certified powder day and everyone around me looks ready to go – fat powder skis and swallow tail boards at the ready, with avalanche packs and matching outerwear sets.

Clearly I’m surrounded by pros. Yet there’s no showboating or ‘locals only’ hostility that often comes with a big snow day. Everyone is just chilling.

I slide into the gondola and whip out the terrain map in my pocket. It confirms my suspicions that I have entered the land of experts.

Not surprising really given that Kicking Horse has five alpine bowls with over 85 inbound alpine chutes, and a massive list of black and double black runs.

Over 60 of the 129 runs are classified as double black diamonds.

Luckily I have an expert host on my side. Andy Brown, Communications Manager at Tourism Golden the nearby town that services Kicking Horse, and a whiz on the sticks. Andy shows me around the resort and we cut first tracks into gladed tree runs, disappearing into deep powder clouds from alpine ridges, and hitting freshies even on the main groomed trails.

I ask him about the clearly high skill level, but apparent lack of ego here.

“Golden is a town of silent assassins,” he said. “A lot of pros come here to retire.”

Everywhere we go people chat openly, locals tell me their favourite runs and I even high five strangers in passing. We are all stoked on pow and there is a lot of support yelling from chairlifts for those doing drops or just making nice turns.


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When Andy has to return to the office, I continue solo and a bunch of randoms continue to ask if I’d like to come for a lap with them – from young snowboard groups to older skier tribes and other singles.

What is going on at this place? I’ve been to plenty of resorts where people keep to themselves and no one would ever show you their secret powder stash. 

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant. Photo credit: Kootenay Rockies Tourism/Mitch Winton

I appreciate the multitude of offers for me to join groups, but decline them. I am here on “business” after all with some serious shredding to do. But when a tall snowboarder wearing all black with blue eyes and a cute smile asks, “Want to ride with us?” Of course I say yes. For research purposes.

And that’s how I find myself part of the self named “Idiot Convention”, jumping pillows, hiking to fresh powder fields and riding some of the biggest resort lines of my life. 

We hit up the local Whitetooth Brewing Company for apres ordering some seriously epic tacos right to our table from Reposados, I discover my new favourite cider ever (Maple Bourbon by Nomad) and am coaxed into experiencing a Golden rite of passage, “The Shaft” drink, at The Riverhouse Tavern.

This is a true local’s bar with the tag line, “Where everyone knows your shame.” Uh, no comment.

The next day I end up hiking more ridgelines while hungover than I had bargained for, including the huge and aptly named Terminator Peak. Ouch.

The theme of friendly silent assassins continues when I go sledding with Golden Snowmobile Rentals.  On the drive to Quartz Creek, I have a chat to the business owner, Aaron Bernasconi and sense he has some serious skills – turns out he used to ride for Burton and compete in snowboard cross and halfpipe. Then, one of Aaron’s snowmobile guides, Brad, introduces me to the world of powder sledding.


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The type of sledding we all need in our lives  – with structured guidance but a long leash to go play, complete with stunning mountain views. Time to try new things, like steep ascents and descents, tandem riding, trying and failing at wheelies and getting the hang of standing with both legs on either side of the sled to adjust for terrain.

Did I mention my avalanche pack is stacked with a sandwich, water, sports drink, trail mix and a few snack bars thanks to Aaron’s wife, Kim? Again, locals looking after a newbie.

The Golden folk, the good food, the small town vibes and advanced terrain at Kicking Horse is hard to leave. But with a standing invitation to rejoin the “Idiot Convention” I may or may not be writing this tale from Kicking Horse right now.

You know, for research purposes.

Alex Parsons was a guest of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Tourism Golden and Destination British Columbia. 

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