Story Behind the Shot: January 3, 2022

This shot is a screen grab from the GoPro on my head during a long, snowy hike at Kicking Horse with my cousins Dawson and Ryan, and their friend James. These guys knew that there were some pretty sweet zones just outside the resort boundary, so we took the lift up then set out on foot.

The hike wasn’t incredibly long but it was steep in spots. It was also -20°C (-4°F) plus wind chill and we were a bit exposed which made it less fun. But it was all good, especially with the sun out and that expansive view of the mountains all around. We hiked for about 30 minutes until we came to the spot pictured at the top of this post.

Dawson on the steepest part of the trail with James looking on from above. That rope didn’t help.

Just after that, we arrived at the base of this steep pitch. This was definitely the crux of the trail, a near-vertical section where you had to scramble up what was basically a ladder made of snow. There was even a rope put in here by ski patrol, but it proved useless.

Big props to my cousin Ryan for this bit. James, Dawson and I were all on snowboards—Ryan was on skis. That meant Ryan couldn’t use his hands when climbing this stretch. I watched him balance the skis on his shoulder with one arm with his poles in the other while carefully calculating each step on his way to the top. He made it no problem.

Looking down from the top of the crux as Ryan gets ready to start climbing.

We hiked on for another 20 minutes until we got to the top of the ridge. The view alone was worth the hike. From there, it was just a few yards farther to cross the resort boundary. We stopped there to rest for a while and have a quick safety meeting, because what came next was the real test.

The view from the top. We were all exhausted but still ready to shred.

From this point forward, we had our beacons on and moved deliberately. We hiked out to the edge of the ridge and James tested the cornice. It was solid, so we made a plan to drop in. The order would be James, myself, Ryan, then Dawson. I dropped in about 20 seconds after James and followed his line.

We knew the snow was pretty good, but this was still the backcountry. We moved as a pack and stayed away from risky spots. It turned out to be an absolutely epic descent with tons of untouched, deep powder.

Unfortunately, I got very little footage of that epic descent. I had the GoPro on and off during the hike—in total about 10 minutes—and by the end of the hike it was frozen solid. I tried 2 other batteries and nothing would work. I even had a backup GoPro and that failed too. I’m glad I got the footage and photos from the hike, but definitely bummed I didn’t get to capture much of what followed.

The footage I did get is in the Instagram post below. I got some great shots on the hike (1st clip), and I did get one video on our ride down as we came out into a wide open snowfield (2nd clip). The snow had be ridden, but it was still epic. This was definitely one run I won’t forget. I’ll be back there again soon.

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