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Snowcat skiing recomendations?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Ok, I'm getting to the age where I want to start checking a few things off my "bucket list"...LOL.  Looking to do a trip with my adult son for a couple of days of snowcat skiing.He's a snowboarder so that needs to be taken into consideration.  Looking for someplace in North America, preferably in the U.S. (simply for the cost of the airfare).  It also needs to be someplace that is not strictly hairball steep stuff.


We were at Powder Mountain a few years ago and that was about perfect as far as terrain goes. Would appreciate only recommendations where you have a first-hand experience.


Thanks in advance to all who respond!

post #2 of 14

not in the USA but try:

Mustang Powder just outside of Revelstoke

Chatter Creek based out of Golden, BC

Island Lake just outside of Fernie (fly to Montana and cross the border?)

post #3 of 14

As a general rule, cat skiing operations tend to be near lift served operations.  They usually have a wide range of terrain to serve a wide range of clientele.  But since cats have limited abilities to climb or descend steep slopes (compared to either lifts or helis), steepness isn't necessarily their calling card.  Rather, they're an excellent choice for terrain near a conventional resort a couple of days after the snow stops, because they can find you nice untracked powder when it's long gone inbounds.


Which is a long-winded way of leading up to the question:  Where have you skied, and where have you liked skiing?

post #4 of 14

Selkirk Wilderness. The Original.


Can't really go wrong, but I think The north end of kootenay lake offers the best "kootenay" experience, whatever that means. Flights are cheap into Spokane, easy then to ski Whitewater and stay in nelson on the in and out.

post #5 of 14

In Colorado:


Steamboat Powdercats:  http://www.steamboatpowdercats.com/

Snowcat skiiing on Aspen Mountain:  http://www.aspensnowmass.com/companyinfo/tips.cfm?id=1116

Powder Addiction at Jones Pass (near Winter Park):  http://www.powderaddiction.com/

Monarch Snowcat Tours:  http://skimonarch.com/index.php/generalinfo/snowcat-tours

Chicago Ridge:  http://www.skicooper.com/snow-cat-skiing


I've only skied Aspen.  It was fantastic.  I've had good reports on Steamboat and Jones Pass.  I know less of Monarch and Chicago Ridge.


There may be others, but these are the ones that come to mind.  A good thing about Aspen is that they only go when it's good.  If it isn't good, you can ski at the resort.  The going rate last year was about $400/seat/day.



post #6 of 14

Irwin Lodge is up and running near Crested Butte and they feature custom Wagner skis.... I've not been but my husband was there years ago when it was more grunge than luxe as it is now, but the terrain is the same and he reported it as awesome. Have an acquaintance who's skied there recently and fell in love with the Wagners too.



post #7 of 14
Originally Posted by Mom View Post

Irwin Lodge is up and running near Crested Butte and they feature custom Wagner skis.... I've not been but my husband was there years ago when it was more grunge than luxe as it is now, but the terrain is the same and he reported it as awesome. Have an acquaintance who's skied there recently and fell in love with the Wagners too.




I haven't been since they reopened, but they have a fair amount of exposure issues, so I wouldn't book too far in advance?


post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

I've skied at most areas on the east coast from the NJ/PA area, north.  I tend to like the low-key areas.


Out west I have skied at about 2 dozen different areas.  As I mentioned, Poweder Mountain Utah was a favorite...you could pretty much point your skis in any direction and just go.  Probably the only area I spent more time off the groomed than on.


I have heard of Irwin Lodge, and also something about it shutting down a few yars back?  I may have to take another look, but if snow coverage is an issue, that may dissuade me if a resort is not nearby as a "back-up" plan (so the idea of a snowcat operation in conjunction with or close by a resortt may be a determining factor unless there's a 99% chance of good snow)


What I was hoping for from this post was first-hand experience. I can do plenty of research as to what's available and where, but personal experience is what I am looking for.

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

And thanks to everyone that has replied so far.  Your advice is much appreciated.

post #10 of 14

My personal experience is with Aspen.  It was a very good experience.  We had an extremely well matched group of rippers.  Their terrain is moderate angle, but they also use this terrain for the US Powder 8's championships.  I skied with a buddy and Jim Schanzenbaker, a US Demo Team member, organizer of the Powder 8 Championships, and repeat Powder 8 winner.  You ski with 2 guides, and they were able to keep the group moving.  There were no stragglers in our group, and everyone was an expert skier or boarder.  They also sent out another cat that day that may have had less advanced skiers/riders.


I don't have personal experience at Steamboat or Powder Addiction, but have had lots of reports on those operations.  Their terrain also tends toward low to mid-angle.  Steamboat Powder Cats gets very high marks, and the terrain is on Buffalo Pass which has some of the highest snowfall in CO (I believe the Irwin snowplot is higher).


As to the others, I don't really have more than one or two reports.


The price for all of the CO places seems to be about $400 a seat.  One other advantage of Aspen is if you hire a ski instructor, they come along for free.  Meaning you can get some good instruction without having to pay for the instructor's spot in the cat.



post #11 of 14

All of the ones listed are near lift-served resorts for  your 'back up'. however, many of them fill up ahead of time, so you can't always count on making a last minute decision.


RE snow coverage at Irwin, i believe that Shredhead was speaking to exposure rather than snowpack. And yes they did close down for a few years to redo the lodge.


post #12 of 14

Forgot about San Juan Powder cats. HERE

They are near Durango and T-Ride and they offer full and half days and two clinic options: learn powder and one on steeps.

post #13 of 14

I'd second the suggestion about flying into Spokane.  Big Red Cats operates out of the Red Mt. base, right outside of Rossland, BC and is a couple hours drive from Spokane.


Also Schweitzer (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours from Spokane) has Selkirk Powder cat skiing that operates from the top of the main resort.  Very flexible in terms of planning ahead.  You take the chair lift to the top (complimentary with the cat skiing purchase) and start skiing on the back side, which is reserved for the cat skiing operation. 

post #14 of 14

Selkirk Powder Co at Schweitzer doesn't have anything really steep, so it might fit the bill. Stay in the village, take the first lift of the day up to the staging area, ski until 3:30, repeat. Pretty easy, no mountain roads or 4x4 rental. Mix a few resort days in as well. (Backside is open to touring too, not just via the cat.)


Haven't yet been to Big Red Cats -- plan to in early January (anyone else?) but they should be able to accommodate just about any ability of skier from what I hear. Both of these places are fine for boarders.


Last season I could of also recommended Peak Adventures just outside of Spokane but they were unable to renew their permit for 2011 and closed up shop. :(

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