It’s no secret that British Columbia is one of the most incredible ski destinations on Earth. With that in mind, FREESKIER readers should 100-percent consider these two beasts for winter ’16-17: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and Fernie Alpine Resort.
Fernie is situated just above the United States-Canada border, while Kicking Horse lies further to the north—approximately five hours by car. Both of these monstrous resorts are on the famed Powder Highway and characterized as gnar, boasting seriously hair-raising terrain that pushes the limits of advanced skiers from every corner of the globe in a multitude of ways. Between the steep faces, burly natural features—cliffs, chutes, etc.—and absurd amount of snow that falls on these ski areas annually, you’re sure to have an experience that will draw you back for more. The breakdown of what you’re looking at: 2,800 acres and 275 inches of average annual snowfall at Kicking Horse; 2,500 acres and 444 inches of average annual snowfall at Fernie. That’s a lot of land and powder, people.
Beginners are more than welcome, too, thanks to ample novice and intermediate runs spread across both mountains. And off the hill, the rich culture of western Canada coupled with the vast wildnerss that surround these resorts will give you a full-on sense of escape. For those looking to really get out there and experience the total backwoods Canada lifestyle alongside some life-changing skiing, these impressive resorts are a damn good bet.
Do Fernie right:
End your day (or starting it) is a tradition at The Griz Bar, the favorite après bar of the locals and visitors alike, providing amazing views of the mountains from the outside deck and comfortable seating inside (stay past sundown for some of the most epic parties).
Polar Peak life put Fernie on the “must-visit” list. Now with the biggest vertical and the most runs in the Canadian Rockies. For some of the most amazing views check out Mama and Papa Bear runs, double blacks that start above the clouds and descend down into the sunshine below.
With lots of natural rollers and fall lines, Cedar Bowl provides amazing vistas and views. End your day at the Snake Ridge area, where the snow is known to be some of the deepest at the resort (and stays the freshest the longest).
Sky Dive is located in Currie Bowl and loved by the more extreme rider. Drop into this zone for some of the best steeps on the mountain.
Check out one of many chutes for maximum fun. High Saddle will give you nice rib out onto an apron of powder in Lizard Bowl.
Do Kicking Horse right:
People don’t come to the Horse to ride the same old thing. They come for the differences and Kicking Horse has plenty. Step aboard the Golden Eagle Express and get whisked up 4,000 feet to the top of the western ridgeline, where your adventure begins. On a powder day, drop into CPR South for fluffy snow and sheltered lines. Then, head over to Terminator or Double Header and reload.
Work your way down CPR ridge, scouting the north side. Drop in to one of the many rocky, gnarly and iconic chutes (Tunnel Vision, Boxcar, or Spur line). CPR North is a gem for chargers, featuring cliffs, spines and wind lips.
From Crystal Bowl, ride up the Stairway to Heaven chair and then hike up to the legendary Whitewall, featuring long, clean spines. Feutz Bowl, named after a Swiss mountain guide, offers a unique variety of leeward slopes, cornices and glades. Check out the Red Light District from Redemption Ridge.
Here you are, on the short bootpack to Terminator Peak. Soak in the views of five national parks; the possibilities are endless, from the Signature Truth, Dare and Consequence (north aspect) to the Terminator South face filled with an infinite number of gullies, berms and rocky ledges.
At this point, most first timers are already soaking in their hot tubs, relieving those muscles. Cap off the day at the top of Terminator 2, immersed in golden light, and gently launch on Crazy Legs. Spice it up with Wild Card or Unnecessary Roughness.
Eat, sleep, ski and repeat in Golden, BC:
Skiers looking to save a dime should feast at Big Bend Cafe. It’s a staple in the Golden community, offering hearty breakfast sandwiches for the pre-ski hunger and even better sammys for lunch as well. Go for the sirloin steak sandwich and thank us later.
Whitetooth Bistro is your go-to for slightly swankier dishes—amazing beef, fish and veggies that’ll satisfy any guest. Enjoy this fine Canadian cuisine with the Kootenay Mountains and the Dogtooth Range in view after a long day of mind-blowing skiing on world-class terrain.
Rockwater Grill & Bar has a hell of an après setup. Post up at its massive bar, order your favorite post-ski libation and enjoy the cozy atmosphere after a long day in the cold. It’s on the slightly fancier side of things but, hey, you deserve it.
Nightlife fun goes down at The Golden Taps Pub, where the beer flows endlessly and tons of late-night snacks are just begging to be eaten. Go for the Gangsta Wrap: beef, breaded pork, bacon, onion rings, romaine lettuce and mixed cheese. All tossed in sweet, tangy hot sauce.
If you’re making your way up to these resorts, chances are you’re a die-hard skier trying to keep it cheap. If that’s the case, post up at the Dreamcatcher Hostel. Its no-shoes policy will make you feel at home (and clean) and beds are just $35/night. Prices drop when groups share rooms, too, so plan accordingly.
There aren’t a ton of posh spots in this area—hence all the untouched powder waiting up there—but a higher-end place to stay is the Winston Lodge & Spa. This spot has 11 amazing suites to shack up in, highlighted by handcrafted wood furniture jetted baths, private balconies and wild mountain views.
Nearby Bugaboo Provincial Park offers 33,722 acres of incredibly out there wilderness. Whether you’re hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or just driving around, this place is sure to blow your mind.