The Freeride World Tour was hosted at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in 2018. Facebook Photo

Ozone adds vertical at Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (KHMR) is reaching new heights with an expansion of terrain into Rudi’s bowl.

The new terrain means KHMR is now the fifth-highest ski resort in North America, reaching a new top elevation of 2,504 metres, and bringing the vertical drop to 1,314 metres.

Last winter, the new terrain on Ozone was featured in the Freeride World Tour by wold-class athletes. Now, locals and visitors alike will be able to take their turn on the terrain.

“The terrain that we are opening this winter is suited to advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders,” said KHMR revenue and guest experience manager Toby Barrett. “Future terrain expansion further into Rudi’s Bowl [and] Rudi’s Ridge will provide access to more intermediate terrain.”

The addition of Rudi’s bowl increases the skiable acreage by 660 acres to 3,486 acres. KHMR worked with partners Rudi and Jeff Gertsch at Purcell Heli Skiing to make the expansion possible and set up the resort for future success and development.

“KHMR reached an agreement with Purcell Heli Skiing last winter, and this allowed KHMR to bring Rudi’s Bowl into our controlled recreation area (CRA),” Barrett said. “Having Rudi’s Bowl in our CRA allows us to now bring Ozone and Middle Ridge into our ski area boundary for this coming season.”

To access these areas, skiers and snowboarders will hike in from the top of the Stairway to Heaven chairlift, up the stairs toward Whitewall, and follow along the ridge. Depending on where people are hiking, Ozone is an approximate five-minute hike to the top of Whitewall, a ski down to the saddle, and then a 10 to 15 minute hike to the top of Ozone. Heading to Middle Ridge, they can ski down from the top of Ozone, and stay left until about half way down the ridge.

Skiers can head from there down the south side glades, which is a single black diamond terrain, or drop into the northside chutes, which is double black diamond terrain. Middle Ridge can also be accessed from Feuz Bowl with an approximate 10 minute bootpack up to the ridge.

“Similar to the other hike-to zones that access either single black or double black terrain, skiers and riders will need to navigate around trees, rocks, cliffs, and so on,” Barrett said. “Not to downplay it, because we’re all super excited to ski this new terrain, but nothing the new terrain offers is any more gnarly than what we have had accessible in the past. It’s just a bit bigger in scale.”

All of the new terrain will be avalanche controlled and safety patrolled, as are other areas of the mountain.

The new terrain will be open for skiing and riding when avalanche conditions allow, just like other terrain. If the terrain is marked as closed, nobody is allowed to enter. Entering a closed area could result in having passes or lift tickets taken away.

“The fact that we actively control the terrain will ensure that we can safely access it and ski it when conditions permit,” Barrett said. “The avalanche danger in that area is not really any different than the rest of our in-bounds hike-to terrain.”

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