There are two kinds of Western skiers: those who crave the chalets, duvets, and ski-toting valets at swank fly–nonstop–from– New York resorts, and those who put up with long schleps and rickety lifts to access wilder terrain. Golden, British Columbia, used to draw only the most extreme purists -- they'd ride the lift to the top and start hiking from there. Since investors bought the hill, now called Kicking Horse Mountain, you'll find the same steep, barely groomed runs -- but with the addition of a few new lifts, they're a lot easier to get to. So go ahead, ride the gondola to the peak: Take in the 360-degree views, and pick your own way down through 2,600 acres of fine powder. You won't find many people along the way -- the resort's remote enough to be a bit of a secret -- or much going on at the bottom of the hill. Situated on the eastern edge of British Columbia, Kicking Horse is closer in climate and character to Banff than to Blackcomb -- a night out's more likely to involve tossing back a couple of Kokanees at a bar full of locals than hitting a pajama party in the condo next door. But then, after a day of doing laps on the twelve-minutes-to-the-top gondola, you'll want to get in your pajamas and leave the partying to somebody else.
Where to Stay
Whispering Pine Town Homes ski-in-ski-out three-bedroom townhouses (four nights from $394 per person, including lift tickets). For lodgings, call 866-SKI-KICK.
Where to Eat
In Golden: Cedar House (250-344-4679). On the mountain: Eagle's Eye restaurant (866-ski-kick).
Mountaintop Eagle's Eye suites go for $1,000, including lessons, use of a luxe VIP gondola, and -- most important -- permission to cut the lift line.
Heli-skiing, Cat skiing, and ice climbing. Lift tickets: $31.
Fly to Calgary, Alberta; rent a car for the three-hour drive to Golden.