Review of Kicking Horse

28th March 2008 by Richard Venes 

Spent 3 days skiing here 29/2 to 2/3 2008, a return visit after a previous visit in 2004. The base area had expanded considerably, including the new apartments, hotel at the base of the main lift and shops and restaurants.

Four of us stayed in a beautiful three floor apartment in the Selkirk development, booked over the internet. We didn’t have to book in on arrival - just put a code into the lock - and we didn’t have to check out either. What a great system, very trusting but very easy. We were very pleasantly surprised by the luxury of the apartment for the price - outdoor jacuzzi with great views to the north, 3 bathrooms, open plan kitchen and just about ski in/ski out - highly recommended.

A general store has opened this season in the shops at the gondola base - run by an English couple. We bought everything we needed for our stay, self catering, so we did not have to travel down the hill to Golden at all. There’s no post box at the resort, but they posted our cards for us in Golden. A very useful addition to the resort.

Our stay coincided with a weekend, a 9cm overnight fall of snow and windy conditions at the top,so there was a horrific queue for the gondola on the Sunday morning - 50 minutes is by far the longest I’ve had to wait for a lift in N America. This really showed up the weakness of the lift system, as it resulted in further queues at the higher Stairway to Heaven chair - they really need another chair from the base area finishing above Stairway to Heaven. This problem is only going to get worse with the ongoing development of the base area.

We were very pleasantly surprised by the continuing high standards at the Eagle’s Eye - in my opinion the best mountain restaurant in N.America. Very efficient and professional staff (unlike several other places we ate on our trip), fantastic views and a good range of food, with all main courses less than 17 dollars. I don’t know how they do it - I had a ‘fine dining’ dish of seared salmon with trimmings, which I would be delighted to be served in any French restaurant - three days on the trot it was so good! They also serve burgers and fries and tempting salads so there’s something for everyone. No booking but our group of four was quickly accommodated on the busiest day

I was looking forward to returning here as my skiing previously was limited by a partner with a dislocated shoulder. I was not disappointed. There are some really challenging runs, even without those involving a walk up a ridge. Great snow conditions as well in the bowls on our visit - I could have done with another few days here. Plus a great selection of groomed and mogulled runs on the lower half of the hill. But skiing with a mixed ability group could be frustrating - even the groomed ridge runs off the very top are not for the faint hearted, whilst advanced and expert skiers will be bursting to get to the runs off CPR and Redemption ridges.

Overall I think the development at the resort has been tastefully done , giving a very attractive option of staying up at the base area. Hopefully this will not have disadvantaged the facilities in Golden too much - I think it’s an attractive (in its way) little town with a ‘hippy’ feel, again worth a wander round if you want some time off from the ski hill.

If you are staying here for a week and want a day off, I recommend a visit to Field,a small town about 30km along the route to Lake Louise. There is a great little cafe/general store, art galleries and major railway interest. We went for a 5km walk round nearby frozen Emerald Lake in deep snow, ending with a picnic lunch in the sunshine.

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