Before heading to a mountain I like to have a good look at a trail map to get my head around the terrain.
Trail maps only tell you so much, and it’s the things the map doesn’t tell you that make Kimberley so special.
Despite the modern base village, Kimberley is stuck in the 1980s. And it’s not a cheesy pop music / yuppie 1980s, it’s a moody laid back 1980s scene.
Guests in the village are treated to a soundtrack stacked with music from The Smiths, The Cure, The Clash, Credence, B52s and Joy Division. (Google them if you are under 30). If they go back to the 60s it’s The Stones and not The Beatles.
The skiers and lifties are old school, and the terrain park is left pretty much empty.
Apart from two beginner chairs, the mountain only has three lifts. The quad is modern, the triple is slow, and the double chair looks like it was stolen from a kid’s hill 40 years ago. I’m 5’9” and the foot rest needs to be 6 inches lower to be comfortable.
There’s constant talk of modernising the hill at Kimberley, but that would be a disaster.
If you want modern, park your arse on the heated chairlift at Sunshine Village, or drive 90 minutes to Fernie. At those resorts you can stand in modern chairlift lines watching young skiers off to ski your powder.
Kimberley is special because it isn’t modern. It’s uncrowded.
Even on powder days it’s still uncrowded. Kimberley’s German heritage means there’s a few more “Lazy Bavarians” on the hill when there’s powder, but these people tend to head off to work at 11am armed with excuses for being late. After that, it’s only a handful of skiers picking off the not-too-hard-to-find powder caches for the rest of day. If it’s snowing the powder can actually get better during the day with tracks getting filled in.
The trail maps also don’t tell you about the long sustained bump runs. While nearby resorts have steeper areas, Kimberley is the place to go for leg burning moguls that go on and on.
If you can make it down the Black Forest or Vimy Ridge bump runs without stopping to rest, you have some serious steel in the legs. Kimberley is a place to get your ski fitness up.
The older crowd at Kimberley (plus the cat tracks) tend to reduce the percentage of snowboarders on the hill. This keeps the bumps and snow in great shape. It’s rare to find slopes wrecked by beginner snowboarders scraping the hell out of it.
At Kimberley, the effort and resources put into the terrain park is pretty limited. It seems like most of the terrain park budget goes in towards trimming and thinning trees to create those amazing glades.
While many ski areas are resorts first and towns second, Kimberley is definitely the opposite. It’s a normally functioning town with a ski hill.
I recommend visitors join the locals at Kimberley’s classic 1930’s wooden ice hockey arena to watch the mighty Kimberley Dynamiters play, especially if the opponent is the arch rivals Fernie Ghost Riders.
So if you want some 80’s cool, long bumps, and zero lift lines, Kimberley is the place to go. Plus it’s only 15 minutes from the Cranbrook airport!!
For more information, weather forecasts and to find out what’s happening head to Kimberley Alpine Resorts.
Feature image: Blue bird day at Kimberley Alpine Resort. Photo Credit: Roland GaschenLast updated on Aug 14, 2018
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