Cat skiing is like heli-skiing, same amazing untouched terrain, without the big price tag. You do laps in typically deep snowy powder, with a snow cat as your exclusive transport, its like a grooming machine with more seating capacity. Snow cats can climb pretty steep pitches, and the ride is warm and convivial with ski buddies as you rumble up the mountain to fresh powder bowls and snow soaked tree skiing,. While you aren’t delivered to jagged peaks like heli skiing, the terrain and scenery is awesome.
Our best cat ski adventure – Monashee Powder Snowcats in British Columbia near Kelowna, Revelstoke and Big White Ski Resort, and we have skied with several outfits in the US and Canada.
The first remarkable thing about this cat ski trip was the long school bus ride into the hinterland, where we board our snow cat – our ski limo for four days, Thor and Freya are their names, and getting fresh tracks is the game.
Arriving at the Monashee Lodge, a mile high at 5,300’, you are welcomed by the super friendly crew, and Carolyn – the owner and chief. Luggage and skis are organized swiftly, and a delicious dinner is served in the homey Main Lodge by candlelight. The majority of cat ski guests here are return, they have their slippers ready, and its a reunion. A 3-story Guest Chalet has 16 guests rooms with en suite bath, it’s upscale dorm style with a central ski and boot room. Guides adjust fat skis for those looking to rent equipment, and discuss cat ski safety before bed and dreams of powder turns.
For four-days, the cat ski trip purrs with Swiss precision, up at 7am, pack your lunch from the buffet, savor a hearty breakfast while the Guides debrief you on snow stability and where you’ll be skiing that day. Board the cat that delivers you to fresh snowy runs like Wild West, Top of the World, Snake Tongues and Steep & Deep – mellow wide open snowfields, to tight snow laden trees and powdery bowls, and steeps with big pillow tops. With Monashee Powder Snowcats you typically get 10-14 runs day, and 15,000’ vertical depending on your group’s ability, speed and swiftness loading in and out of the snow limo. This is more skiing than you usually get heli-skiing, for less expense $.
We spoon each other’s ski turns in dry light snow. Cat calls and big smiles ensue, a few big wipe outs too in the soft fluffy pow provoke laughter. Everyone helps each other, whether its finding a ski buried deep in snow, or taking turns going first, cat skiing is more intimate than resort skiing.
Monashee Powder Snowcats has 17,000-acres, private powder shared between two cats of 12 that head in opposite directions each day, with a guide, tail guide and cat driver who keep you safe. Always you are surrounded by stunning snow capped peaks, peaceful, remote, breathtaking.
Apres ski back at Monashee Lodge by 4pm, in two outdoor hot tubs with amazing Alpen glow over the Monashee Mountains with a Kokanee beer from the bar. The masseuse is on hand, or you can connect to Wi-Fi to post facebook faceshots. After Chef’s dinner, the Treewell Bar is the place to lounge in leather couches, play pool and watch the day’s pro photos on the big screen. Yes, a photographer comes along and discretely captures you and the day in amazing photos, available for sale.
If you have been craving cat ski, or anxious to try heli ski, we recommend a three or four-day stay with Monashee Powder Snowcats – you’ll get your money’s worth and plenty of snow laps, meet some cool new ski friends in your snow cat, and perhaps find yourself coming back for more cat. Combine this trip with a resort ski vacation at Revelstoke or Big White.
To cat ski, you should be a competent fit experienced skier, able to ski all conditions and all terrain for a cat ski or heli ski trip, in strong physical condition. You might be skiing wind blown, steep deep powder, dust on crust, and cross country traversing – in sunshine, dumping snow, wind, fog, maybe all in one run.