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Three things to do in Golden off the slopes

Posted by Stephanie Knaak on

Skiing is great, but here’s a few other ways to have fun in spring.

Before we moved here, skiing at Kicking Horse Mountain Report was the main reason we travelled from Calgary to Golden in winter. But anytime we were here for a long weekend or longer I found myself looking beyond the ski hill for ways to mix things up.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to ski. But truth is, I’m not in good enough shape to ski days upon days without a breaking it up a bit. Besides, our kids now ski circles around us, so if we want to do something together as a family, sometimes taking it off the hill works better to keep them interested.

Here are a few activities we’ve tried lately and have absolutely loved.

Climbing at the Dogtooth Climbing Gym - With 3,600 square feet of climbing area and a bouldering cave, Dogtooth Climbing Gym has plenty to keep you entertained.  If you’re a newbie like me, the 2.5- hour “Learn to Rock Climb” or a shorter “Taster” session are the way to go. We did the taster session, which allowed all of us to climb to our hearts’ content — which basically means we climbed until our forearms were completely shot.

Owner-operator Ian Archbold, an ACMG certified instructor and an extremely affable fellow, had all the needed equipment and was with us every step of the way. He showed us how to tie our harnesses, how belaying works (techniques used to cause friction on the rope so as to minimize a fall), how to pick a level and climb a specific route, and gave us plenty of guidance and encouragement along the way.

Because the kids already have some climbing experience (they learn it in school), Archbold even let them belay me for some extra practice, staying on as a backup. Always full of encouragement, he assured me with full conviction that I could, in fact, get to the top of a 5.9 route even though I wasn’t so sure — and I almost did. The kids, outperforming me with relative ease, made it up a 10a. Impressive. I had no idea they were such capable climbers for beginners. Maybe the next step for them will be Ian’s “Learn to Lead Climb” program. 

Ice Skating - Golden has a number of outdoor rinks for winter family fun. Kicking Horse resort builds one every winter. There’s also a nice rink across the street from Pinecones B&B, which was always our favourite in-town spot to stay.

Golden’s outdoor rinks may have melted early this year but that doesn’t mean there’s no more skating to be had. The Golden Arena has lots of family skate times throughout the week and weekend – popular among local families and kids and always sure to be a fun time.

Golden’s outdoor rinks may have melted early this year but that doesn’t mean there’s no more skating to be had. The Golden Arena has lots of family skate times throughout the week and weekend – popular among local families and kids and always sure to be a fun time.

Taking a cross-country ski lesson at Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre — I’ve been wanting to get better at cross-country skiing, so I figured taking a lesson would be a good first step. Earlier this season my husband and I did an afternoon skate ski lesson – perfect for getting the basic poling techniques and some practice gliding (without falling over).

Last weekend, we recruited the kids and did a family classic ski lesson – just ourselves and the charming Ghislain (who also happens to be the head coach at the Golden Nordic Centre) for a couple of hours on the trails. We practised our snowplow, and our step turns (harder than it looks), some double-poling (also harder than it looks), and our diagonal stride. The kids don’t have their own equipment. No problem though, as rentals are available right at the Dawn Mountain chalet. It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon — gorgeous spring-like conditions, good family fun, and the chance to learn something new. I may still be slow and tippy out there, but at least now I know what to practice and what I’m supposed to be doing.

Who knows what we’ll decide on for our next family activity. With all the gorgeous weather we’ve been having, it might just be a spring ski day. Or maybe we’ll dust off the bikes and go for a ride. Or maybe we’ll hit the cross-country trails to practice what we learned in our lesson. Or maybe we’ll try something else different again. That’s one of the great things about Golden after all – there’s never a shortage of fun things to do.

Stephanie Knaak's picture

Stephanie Knaak

After four years as winter weekenders from Calgary, Stephanie and her family moved to Golden full-time in the summer of 2013. They fell in love with the ski hill, the town and the amazing mountain surroundings.  Read more about Stephanie's story at www.thisgoldenlife.ca/about

Stephanie Knaak's picture

Stephanie Knaak

After four years as winter weekenders from Calgary, Stephanie and her family moved to Golden full-time in the summer of 2013. They fell in love with the ski hill, the town and the amazing mountain surroundings.  Read more about Stephanie's story at www.thisgoldenlife.ca/about