WORDS — Matt Coté
For these nerdy sufficient to concentrate, there are many variations within the American and Canadian lexicons—particularly with regards to ski terminology. Whereas the checklist goes on-and-on, we’re right here to speak about one factor: steep, tight, rock-lined runs within the high-alpine. However are they couloirs or chutes? Gullies? Canada is so replete with couloirs that the bar to qualify as one is excessive. Canucks generally tend to name something lower than 1,000 vertical toes a “chute,” and whereas these strains are equally badass to ski, they’re simply not lengthy sufficient to garner the couloir moniker. In that gentle, there’s one mountain in British Columbia that’s made nearly completely of chutes, and is the epicenter of getting tubed in North America. That is, in fact, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, in Golden, BC, which boasts strings of must-ski strains throughout its ridges, equal to an enormous set rolling into Pipeline—gnarly rides stacked up side-by-side. Now that the border is gleefully open to Yankees once more, right here’s your information to wrangling a number of the most marquee chutes at Kicking Horse this winter.
BEGINNERS START HERE…
First-timer? All of us have been in some unspecified time in the future. Let me paint the scene for you: Stepping out of the Golden Eagle Categorical Gondola shall be a trippy expertise. It’ll shoot you 4,000 vertical toes up in a single dizzying ascent, plunking you atop CPR Peak and its adjoining ridge, which type the central backbone of Kicking Horse. However don’t go wandering out onto the ridge simply but. The very first thing you’ll wish to do is head simply 100 yards from the place you’re standing and slide immediately ahead, dropping north into Dumpster Chutes. These runs aren’t named on the path map, however are situated immediately skier’s left of Path 64, the Golden Spike. Slide alongside beneath the cornice and hop the primary few turns with a outstanding wall of rocks protecting you humble to your proper. The slope mellows rapidly and spits out right into a wide-open bowl, as a simple method to get your toes moist and prep you for what comes subsequent. There are a number of entrances—transfer another skier’s left for a tighter drop-in that forces smaller turns, however flows out into the identical wonderful open pow subject beneath.
Path 75 on the map, this broad line begins on the prime of the north-facing bottom of Redemption Ridge and spills into Feuz Bowl. You’ll arrive through the aptly named Stairway to Heaven quad, and shuffle down-ridge solely a pair hundred yards, being certain to remain above the cat-track. The primary apparent open saddle is the doorway to Excessive Horse, your latest goal. Barely tougher to method than the Dumpsters however with a better drop-in, you’ll have a caked, snowy wall to your proper and, in your left, the ridgeline will bend because the bowl curves up towards the White Wall. Flanked by two smooth boundaries, the road reads like a wide-open, pure halfpipe with tons of room, plus some fascinating undulations and bonus pitches when you get decrease down. Excessive Horse is likely one of the longer runs on the mountain, and whereas it may be troublesome to ski in low gentle, it’ll feels just like the Promised Land on a bluebird powder day.
ONCE YOU’RE WARMED UP…
Tunnel Imaginative and prescient
Able to get your Scot Schmidt on, eh? Head again to the highest of the Golden Eagle Categorical gondola, flip 90 levels to your proper and search for the traverse out to CPR Ridge. Slide over and observe the ridgeline. The primary little bit is roofed in woops that may make it a problem to cease proper at Tunnel Imaginative and prescient (Path 63), but it surely’s your first drop-in previous CPR Peak—and often crowded with gob-smacked onlookers making an attempt to determine the doorway. However right here’s what you could know to slip proper previous ’em like an area: There’s a slot carved out of the cornice and that’s the place you’ll drop. The primary few turns are solely a ski-length huge, however the chute opens up shortly thereafter and also you’ll be capable of hyperlink turns extra fluidly. One other couple hundred vertical toes downslope and a large catcher’s mitt of an open fan welcomes you with all of the room you’ll must shut down your pace. It’s a very good place to observe letting your skis “run,” and locals typically balk at handing over Tunnel Imaginative and prescient in any respect: a lot of them straightline the doorway.
After you’ve greased your choose on CPR Ridge, soar again onto the Stairway to Heaven raise for one more supply to the highest of Redemption Ridge. From there, observe the cat-track beneath the raise to its finish after which keep excessive to catch the traverse atop the ridge. It’ll take you previous a few sub-peaks and on to Stampede, which is in an space referred to as the Steps. Stampede (Path 87) is the second Step; it has a sheer wall of rock to the fitting, and a ramp on the left which you could journey up and down like a backbone. The descent provides two choices: keep on with the choke or schmear the wall. Both manner, all of it funnels to the identical exit level, about 400 vertical toes beneath, and spits you thru it like a excessive pace hole-in-one. If there’s contemporary snow, you’ll must be conscious your slough, or it’ll really feel such as you’re driving via a Plinko board. On the run’s finish there’s a brief, open fan to catch you, but it surely flattens out fast, so don’t get squashed within the compression.
Kicking Horse hosts the one North American cease on the Freeride World Tour and Ozone, pictured above, is the face of alternative for the rowdy big-mountain occasion.
FOR EXPERTS ONLY…
All steely-eyed, are ya? Properly then it’s about time to hit Terminator Ridge—don’t thoughts the title, although, you’re robust as nails by now. Entry this zone by heading south off the Golden Eagle Categorical and schuss down a fast ridge-top groomer above Bowl Over, earlier than attending to the 20-minute bootpack up Terminator Peak. Get your sweat on, prime out and take within the view of three main mountain ranges: The Rockies, Purcells and Selkirks—you’re proper in the course of their surprise. You’re additionally on prime of a peak that’s hosted four-star Freeride World Tour Qualifiers for over half-a-decade. The traverse you need slides throughout the bottom and feels uncovered in locations, so maintain it tight. Wrap across the peak to search out the doorway to Reality (Path 94), with Dare and Consequence slightly farther down. Out right here, it’ll really feel such as you’re actually moving into the backcountry, with an enormous, steep, rocky draw funneling you right into a choke that has a nook you may’t see round. All of it goes and, in the perfect circumstances, you’ll expertise damn-near 1,000-vertical-feet of technical, walled-in snowboarding that, as soon as once more, has soccer fields price of open fan to catch you on the backside.
Ozone teased and taunted the realm’s prime riders for almost twenty years earlier than it was lastly opened to the general public in 2019. It’s now the venue of the one five-star Freeride World Tour cease in North America, which plans to return this winter, barring any Covid nonsense. Accessing Ozone means committing to a 25-minute hike from the highest of the Stairway to Heaven chair, and if you get to the height—the very best level at Kicking Horse—there’s no different method to describe it than… large. This face gives that pucker issue you’ve been searching for. Whereas there’s no cornice to take care of, it provides two immense line selections. Each of ’em roll over and tighten rapidly, protecting you dedicated to the strains as they steepen and level evermore downward, with spiky rocks bordering you on both facet. The rollovers are, in fact, blind and, you probably have the basics (and the heart) for it, these strains are large enough to crank Tremendous G turns down such as you’re starring within the subsequent MSP movie. Or you may take your time, and savor the grandeur of 1 the boldest in-bounds, big-mountain experiences in North America. Ozone is the true deal and it’s as much as you ski it.
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