Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15/18

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takeahike46er takeahike46er
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Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15/18

It’s already February—well into midseason for most skiers and riders. I’m in the worst shape of my life, less active than ever, carrying more weight, and I’m just hitting the slopes for the first time this winter…

What better place to start the season than Kicking Horse!?!?





I was way too ambitious my first day out on the mountain. Already familiar with Kicking Horse from a stellar day last season, I headed to the Super Bowl for my first run, hoping to find pockets of fresh snow from the storm two days prior. No warmup run—I just got right to it.

Unfortunately, this less traveled section of the hill was pretty well tracked out already. Locals later told me that with the Freeride World Tour in town days prior to my visit, the mountain had skied out faster than they had ever seen.

The cat track and short uphill sections en route to the bowl left me winded, and now I was committed to a grueling mix of chopped up powder and bumps for the next four thousand vertical feet. That's one hell of a way to kick off a season.





Floundering with exhausted legs and rusty technique, I suffered through the run taking frequent breaks. My boots, which have been largely hassle free in seasons past, were causing major pain and adding to the misery. I couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of the hill.





I tried to take it easy for the rest of the day, sticking mostly to groomers and the more moderate pitches. But you don't go to Kicking Horse to ski gentle cruisers; the advanced and expert terrain is where it's at. Unable to resist, I was lured into Feuz Bowl, tackling one of the easier chutes on the north side of Redemption Ridge.





Though the chute was fun, I continued to struggle when tasked with top-to-bottom runs–-often a necessity at Kicking Horse––which was a shame because the lower mountain was skiing really well with the above-normal snowpack. There’s some decent tree skiing and bump runs on the lower half, and it’s easily overshadowed because all the terrain off of the upper mountain is so rad. Disappointed, I called it an early day and made my way back to the house for a soak in the hot tub.





With no new snow, day two at Kicking Horse was cold, fast, and more of the same. I warmed up with a quick top-to-bottom run on some fresh cord—my legs protesting a bit, but overall feeling better than my first day out. The most confident I felt all day was a steep line off the north side of CPR Ridge. The no-fall terrain really got my adrenaline flowing and brought a level of focus to my skiing that was severely lacking the previous day.





After two days of masochistic skiing at Kicking Horse, my one day at Sunshine felt easy by comparison. Not only were the pitches far less steep and less sustained than Kicking Horse, but the short chairlifts allowed for more periodic breaks to relax the legs. Fresh snow overnight softened the hill, but there was low visibility and wind-scoured snow to contend with. I generally stayed low and along the trees where visibility and snow was best.




On a chairlift ride, a local recommended I check out “The Shoulder” off of the Tee Pee Quad. An easily missed, narrow traverse skier’s right of the lift lead to a short, untracked face filled with wind-loaded snow.





The run was pretty sweet, but like much of the terrain at Sunshine, the pitch shallowed out too quickly. It was a confidence booster for sure, and even if it wasn’t fully satisfying, perhaps it was exactly what I needed.





My day at Lake Louise turned out to be the Goldilocks of the trip. The runs were neither too long nor too short for my weary legs, and the terrain was consistently pitched without the flat spots that plagued Sunshine. Several inches of fresh snow overnight also yielded the best overall surface conditions of the trip.

My buddy and I started with what was supposed to be an easy warmup run down the backside; however, the trees adjacent to Ptarmigan looked too enticing and we couldn’t resist dropping in. They were beautifully spaced with a steady pitch that gentled over the course of the run.





After a couple of runs in the trees and still feeling good, we headed over to the Paradise Chair where we scoped out a line that had been wind loaded. It required a brief hike accompanied by heavy winds ripping across the ridge top. A cornice clung to the mountain edge as winds deposited fresh snow to the face below. I dropped in along the rock spine and had a solid run down to the bowl and trees below.







On the ride back up the Paradise Chair, we noticed a clean face along the far boundary that had hardly been skied. It was called Boundary Bowl, and it required taking the Summit Platter, followed by a little bit of hiking.

The hike to the top of the peak was a bit sketchy. Rope anchored to the rock helped somewhat, but there were a couple pitches without it where a fall would have had resulted in a spill outside the boundary.





After taking a moment on the small summit to catch our breath, we dropped in. This was by far the best run of the trip. The snow on this face was soft and deep, and I managed to ski it with a confidence that had been lacking in the days prior.









Towards the bottom, the bowl spit us out on top of the North Cornice. Any trepidation about the six foot cornice drop turned to elation as the deep snow cushioned the fall and made for a few effortless turns before leveling out to the traverse below.



North Cornice above my buddy's helmet w/ Boundary Bowl extending above and to the peak in center



Kicking Horse had left me humbled, and a tad beaten down. But by the time I left Lake Louise, I felt like I had redeemed myself. I may be out of shape, but it’s nice to know that with a little patience and determination (and maybe better planning), I can bounce back.
JasonWx JasonWx
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Re: Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15

Great report!!!
Those are the best pics ever post on the site...What camera did you use?
"Peace and Love"
Brownski Brownski
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Re: Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15

In reply to this post by takeahike46er
Wow. Great pics. I can identify with the fitness stuff. Nice job
"You want your skis? Go get 'em!" -W. Miller
YUKON CORNELIUS YUKON CORNELIUS
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Re: Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15/18

In reply to this post by takeahike46er
We were out at Kicking Horse the week before you (during the Freeride World Tour). That place is the real deal. I loved it.

Thanks for sharing!
"This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?"
takeahike46er takeahike46er
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Re: Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15

In reply to this post by JasonWx
JasonWx wrote
Great report!!!
Those are the best pics ever post on the site...What camera did you use?
Thanks! It helps that the Purcells and the Canadian Rockies are naturally stunning.

Almost all the photos were taken with iPhones. Several of the shots were enhanced using Instagram.

My best piece of advice is to not use the site's image uploader to resize/compress the photos. Image quality is significantly better if you resize using something like the Mac Photos app.
takeahike46er takeahike46er
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Re: Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15/18

In reply to this post by YUKON CORNELIUS
YUKON CORNELIUS wrote
We were out at Kicking Horse the week before you (during the Freeride World Tour). That place is the real deal. I loved it.
Nice! Did you catch the competitions on Ozone or T1?

Kicking Horse is indeed a special place, and despite being ill-prepared for this year's visit, it easily ranks among my favorites anywhere.

I was pleasantly surprised by Lake Louise. I thought it was a really well-rounded mountain. However, I do recognize that with 180% of its normal snowfall, Lake Louise is probably skiing far better than normal, and I take that into consideration.
YUKON CORNELIUS YUKON CORNELIUS
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Re: Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15/18

takeahike46er wrote
YUKON CORNELIUS wrote
We were out at Kicking Horse the week before you (during the Freeride World Tour). That place is the real deal. I loved it.
Nice! Did you catch the competitions on Ozone or T1?

Kicking Horse is indeed a special place, and despite being ill-prepared for this year's visit, it easily ranks among my favorites anywhere.

I was pleasantly surprised by Lake Louise. I thought it was a really well-rounded mountain. However, I do recognize that with 180% of its normal snowfall, Lake Louise is probably skiing far better than normal, and I take that into consideration.
We watched some of it on Ozone in-between runs and from the lift. Those guys and girls can rip. The mountain was packed with great skiers. No shame in feeling "ill-prepared" for Kicking Horse, 3 of our 5 (including me) walked (limped) away a little dinged up. Its a big, burly mountain.

We also skied a "recovery" day at Panorama, which had some sweet tree runs. Last 2 days were at Fernie. The first part of out first day was spring-style corn snow , then it started raining. Next day temps dropped and set things up rock solid. Fernie has pretty nice terrain, but lacks elevation. We should have stayed up North.
"This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?"
YUKON CORNELIUS YUKON CORNELIUS
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Re: Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15/18

In reply to this post by takeahike46er



"This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?"
nepa nepa
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Re: Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15/18

In reply to this post by takeahike46er
Everything about this report is Awesome!! Thanks for sharing,
Harvey Harvey
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Re: Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Lake Louise: 2/10 - 2/15/18

In reply to this post by takeahike46er
WOW I just read it. Fantastic.  Nothing like a STORY with good pictures.

Thank you so much.
"You just need to go at that shit wide open, hang on, and own it." —Camp
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