Tag Archives: british columbia

Bramble Ski closes Kicking Horse operation

It is with regret that we have decided to close our operation in Kicking Horse.  While we’ve managed to achieve annual growth in this boutique British Columbia resort, we have assessed the current profile of our business there, alongside forecasting future growth, and have reached the conclusion that our business operation there is unsustainable.

We’ve been in Kicking Horse for four years now and coming to this decision was difficult especially when weighing our emotional attachment to the resort and the region, and considering its potential. But a practical outlook and an analysis of the numbers ultimately outweighed our sentimental leanings.

Reflecting visitation numbers to Kicking Horse, our clientele have been heavily weighted on traffic from neighbouring Alberta who generally demand short weekend stays which has a detrimental impact on possible utilisation levels of the properties on our portfolio. With the fragile global economy and strengthening Canadian dollar traffic from the US and abroad has diminshed in the past four years. This is a trend that is apparent across Canada and has only exacerbated tough business conditions in Kicking Horse . The Canadian Tourism Commission’s sales and marketing plan for 2011 makes for some interesting reading and provides more detailed insight on this.

With our brand and product gaining a reputation in Europe as one of the most elite luxury operators in Verbier and St Anton, it makes sense for us to realign our efforts and resources to further stepping up our game in resorts that can support our standard level of service. We’ve recently added two stunning new properties to our Verbier portfolio, with a third to be added later this summer. The two new properties are:

  1. Chalet Sommet. Alpine Luxe Spa. Sleeps 12 and features a cinema, jacuzzi (indoor and outdoor), hammam, sauna and gym
  2. Chalet Jasmine. Alpine Luxe. Sleeps 12 with a cinema, indoor jacuzzi, sauna and wine cave. Chalet Jasmine is also ski-in.

We’ve always been, and will continue to be advocates of Kicking Horse as a phenomenal skiing destination. The accessability to terrain available for advanced skiers is quite simple extraordinary. For beginners and intermediates it is a fantastic learning environment with excellent, passionate instructors working against a backdrop of dramatic mountains landscapes. The key is that skiing is the focal objective of a holiday as the village is still in its infancy in terms of available amenities like nightclubs, coffee shops and shopping. We, unfortunately, have not been able to draw our core clientele of wealthy European families to the BC interior ski resort.

Kicking Horse is located 13km from the town of Golden which has been a hub for adventurous soles for decades. The town has always supported a concentrated number of mountain guides who cut their living from the numerous heli-ski and cat-ski operations in the area as well as private guided trips on mountain traverses and descents that are famous worldwide. Kicking Horse is a great resort as a base to strengthen legs and delve into the numerous back-country options available in the area. 

We’ve had an excellent relationship with the team at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and wish them well in their endeavours of expansion in the future.

Kicking Horse to stay open for Easter

With the best precipitation in years, Kicking Horse Montain Resort has announced that the lifts will turn for a bonus two weekends and will close for the season on Easter Sunday, April 24th.

The mere thought of April skiing makes me giddy with excitement. By the end of April the days are already significantly longer, they’re warmer and the combination of slushy corn snow with late afternoon beers in the sun – there is surely no better way to end the winter. Please email canadainfo@brambleski.com to inquire about April availability.

The regular season ends on Sunday April 10th. The lifts shut-down Monday through Thursday for the next two weeks and turn again Friday April 16th until Sunday April 18th and on Easter weekend April 22nd to 24th. In pre-Kicking Horse days when the lifts were owned and operated by the community of Golden as the Whitetooth ski area, similar weekend operations were the practice and Fridays after a week of snow were known as powder-Fridays. They were days many members of the community took leave from work for. Who knows maybe we’ll even get a chance to relive powder-Fridays this spring?

It has been 10 years since the Whitetooth Ski area was bought from the community and re-launched as Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. It is easy to forget how young this resort is and how much further it has to go. A revised Master Plan of development has been under scrutiny from the provincial government for the past year-and-a-half and has just been announced approved and signed. This is the final step in the provincial approval process.

The document provides a path of expansion unobstructed by provincial, environmental or native opposition with the ultimate build-out goal of 20,000 beds, 14 ski lifts, 4,186 acres of skiable in-bounds terrain and an 18-hole golf course. It is a significant step forward but doesn’t mean that all the pieces will now magically fall into place and that development here will steam ahead.

The approval of the Master Plan lays out a future to look forward to, but part of Kicking Horse’s allure is its frontier feel. There is a priceless moment when, after travelling base to summit in a gondola full of cherry skiers and boarders, I find it’s just me and the mountain only minutes later, not another goretex-cladded soul in sight and the spectacular Columbia Valley beckoning me below. Magic!

The snow in British Columbia’s interior keeps on coming

Since early January we have been blessed with snow in Kicking Horse. Wave after wave of storm has pulsated through from the Pacific coast and have delivered what locals say is more like the winters of old.

Today (Sunday Feb 13th) has been another truly spectacular day. After a 48-hour storm with high winds that delivered close to 50cm of blower champagne powder at mid-mountain, clearing clouds this morning, dissipating winds and moderate temperatures culminated in a perfect day of skiing. Conditions on every aspect in the resort were superb and in some of the wind-loaded alpine chutes outright exhilirating. Of course for the more daring-do it was one of those days to tackle runs and drops that have been eye-balled for weeks, even seasons. On numerous occassions I witnessed huge 30-40ft cliffs hucked, followed by the typically Canadian response from all who witnessed it, a cacophany of hollars and cheers.

Last weekend Kicking Horse Mountain Resort hosted its third annual Wrangle the Chute competition. The event is judged on its own unique blend of big mountain riding, park and mid-west rodeo bull riding, in the form of the mountain’s home-made furry mascot E.J. Hector.

Sir James Hector was a Scottish geolist, naturalist and surgeon who accompanied the Palliser Expedition with the mission of exploring new railway routes for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Surveying the pass that the railway now follows east, Hector’s horse bolted for the hills hoofing him in the chest and rendering him unconscious. The story goes that his companions mistook him for dead and prepared his grave. Hector came round before they prematurely buried him and the name Kicking Horse has stuck for the river and pass they were exploring.

E.J Hector, is a bucking bronco that is strapped and suspended between two snowcats for the final phase of the competition. Competitors picked a line down the face above the Heaven’s Door Yurt in Crystal Bowl, aired a huge kicker and then rode E.J. to gain maximum points. The event was won by Nelson-based Mathew Montandon whose 360 degree spin off of a 50ft cliff won him the judges favour. Below are a selection of my images from Day 1 of the two-day event.

With more precipitation expected Monday and Tuesday, followed by sun on Wednesday and Thursday, it is going to be a stellar week to be on holiday in Kicking Horse country.

Photographs by Barry Cox.