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Best Cat Skiing Operator For Intro to Powder Skiing? - Page 3

post #61 of 80

I'm an Level 3 cert instructor in the Northeast at a major ski area and I also have many cat skiing trips to the west under my belt.

 

For the original poster that started this thread I would suggest the following

 

Do not go cat skiing with out first gaining powder experience elsewhere.  You will fall and be much slower than the group and that is not a fun experience for you, your cat group, and your guides.

 

I'd first have to question how you can be an advanced skier in the east with no powder experience at all.  This winter watch the weather and go chase after some storms so you can gain some experince before going out west.  Jay Peak has got pretty reliable powder.  Take some lessons in the east with a Level 3 cert instructor and ask them if you have the skills to handle deep powder and develop your skills.

 

I would suggest a place like Grand Targhee for your trip out west.  It is not a crowded resort and has the most realiable Powder that I know of.  Take a lesson in the powder there.  They also have a early tracks program where you get 1.5 hours of powder skiing before the lifts open with an instructor as a second step.  If towards the of your trip you are feeling confident in skiing Powder they have a Cat that has a its own mt to operate on and you can graduate to that thru a nice progressive of skill development.

post #62 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by COBillsFan View Post

 

I would not recommend Silverton. Even if you’re an advanced skier, you’ve got to be in really good shape to enjoy the experience. There’s a lot of hiking, and at 12,000 ft, you’re going to run out of gas pretty quickly (especially if you’re from NJ).

 

Once you actually start skiing your line, you’re already spent, and your form will likely suffer greatly. That’s not something a powder newbie is going to enjoy.  

+1 on not skiing Silverton.  That place is not appropriate for powder newbies.  You'll be slowing up fellow skiers on the way up as well as the way down.  Oy!

 

Interesting comment above on how to reach advanced ski ability w/o any powder experience.  It's an unavoidable trajectory out west - maybe the east is special.

 

Targhee is a good choice.  Taking a few private lessons there would be a good intro.

post #63 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach Z View Post

I'm an Level 3 cert instructor in the Northeast at a major ski area and I also have many cat skiing trips to the west under my belt.

 

For the original poster that started this thread I would suggest the following

 

Do not go cat skiing with out first gaining powder experience elsewhere.  You will fall and be much slower than the group and that is not a fun experience for you, your cat group, and your guides.

 

I'd first have to question how you can be an advanced skier in the east with no powder experience at all.  This winter watch the weather and go chase after some storms so you can gain some experince before going out west.  Jay Peak has got pretty reliable powder.  Take some lessons in the east with a Level 3 cert instructor and ask them if you have the skills to handle deep powder and develop your skills.

 

I would suggest a place like Grand Targhee for your trip out west.  It is not a crowded resort and has the most realiable Powder that I know of.  Take a lesson in the powder there.  They also have a early tracks program where you get 1.5 hours of powder skiing before the lifts open with an instructor as a second step.  If towards the of your trip you are feeling confident in skiing Powder they have a Cat that has a its own mt to operate on and you can graduate to that thru a nice progressive of skill development.

 

Welcome Coach Z, very nice first post.

post #64 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by tallklutz View Post

I would rather be in Nelson BC, IF they had a qaurternary care level hospital, which they don't in a 8 hours of driving radius.

Vancouver is about 8 hours. They must have one there.

 

Also, a quarternary care level hospital is not the only thing Nelson doesn't have. The nearest reliable air service is Spokane. The airport in Castlegar is also known as Cancelgar, especially in the winter.

 

To the OP:

 

Obviously, the cheapest way to learn to ski powder is to catch some at a resort. As Tony Crocker says, though, that's sketchy, at best. Since I live near Nelson, I do get plenty of resort powder - enough so that I rarely pay for a cat. But you can't count on that for a trip.

 

Someone suggested you look for powder closer to home. Do what anyone looking to learn powder should do - hunt for soft snow at your home area. Surely they must have some sometimes. Find the soft snow at the edges of the intermediate runs. Intermediates are often reluctant to ski close to trees, especially in soft snow where they can't easily force a skid. If you're reasonably skilled as you say, you can get a few turns around the fringes.

 

My avatar was shot with a cheap digital camera at the edge of an intermediate run at Whitewater. You can see behind me it's skied up. Where I'm skiing, not so much.

 

071231HipDeep.jpg

 

 

 

Drive up to Jay. They get decent snow up there, and they might be close enough so you can do a little storm chasing. Then, assuming you're successful, take a lesson.

 

As noted, you may be able to go on a day of cat skiing tailored for relative novices. But there is still no guarantee regarding conditions. And it will be expensive.

post #65 of 80

+1 to the above post. Silverton is absolutely for expert skiers in terms of terrain and the high altitude hiking.  Not a place for newbies in any way.

Quote:
Do NOT under any circumstances go Cat Skiing with Revelstoke MR Snow Cats.

The Revelstoke snowcat area also faces south.  Ultimately lifts will go in there and they will find a better place for the cat skiing within Selkirk-Tangiers' 500,000 acres.

Quote:
when everything is purely numbers, Tony????

Snow is mostly numbers.  Acreage may be numbers but some acreage (Jackson, Snowbird etc. as I described before) is worth more to powder skiers than others.  Skier density/powder access is not just dividing by skier visits.  It's also lift layout, mountain topography, etc.  Lots of this stuff you have go and ski it, then start making head-to-head comparisons.   The 170 areas I've skied inform my opinions at least as much as the 113 areas for which I have collected snow data.  My comments regarding Revelstoke/Kicking Horse are based upon both their snowfall reality and my 12 days skiing there in 6 different seasons.

 

I also agree on CoachZ's sound advice.  Last minute powder at a local hill within drive distance is likely more productive than bucking those 10-20% odds at an advance booked trip to a resort.  We don't know where in the NE the OP lives, but if it's NYC or farther south/west he's unlikely to get to much powder before the locals have schralped it.  I mentioned earlier that for a single ski area Targhee might be #1 in North America for learning powder.

post #66 of 80

Targhee is for sure top 5 for powder skiing and is such a great low key place.  I want to retire there.  I was there last Feb and on a 11" overnight snow there was like 40 people waiting for first chair.  The ski school director told me that the locals won't show up in force unless there is 18"+.  Only 3 lifts but miles of untracked powder.  Pitch not too steep or too shallow just a nice solid black pitch pretty much the whole place.

 

Can't wait to go back.

post #67 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by smackboy1 View Post

I mostly ski in the northeast and New England and would consider myself an advanced skier, but I've never set foot in deep powder. So I want to learn powder skiing and figure a cat skiing trip might just be the ticket to reliable untracked deep fluffy white stuff.  So far I found Selkirk Wilderness has Intro to Cat Skiing trips

 

http://www.selkirkwilderness.com/dates_rates/intro_to_cat_skiing_boarding/

 

Can anybody recommend other operators with similar powder 101 type trips? Any easier to reach destinations?

 

Well, you are smart finding a place that does an intro to powder, because if you got onto a cat with a bunch of powder skiers and held them up they would want to kill you. You see most people on cat trips, know how to ski powder and ski it well. Since they are laying out big money for the cat time they are only as fast as the weakest link, and you don't want to be the weakest link.  

 

I was on a cat once that had a girl that couldn't ski powder well on the trip. After the second run she was stuck in the cat and a snowmobile came to get her and haul her out.  I was on the cat for free, good friend runs the place, so I wasn't as wrapped around the axle as some people were, but people were pissed about her lack of ability. Her boyfriend stayed and skied.

 

Seems like coming to a resort in the west and parking it for two weeks during a storm cycle is a cheaper way to learn powder skiing, but that is just me. 

post #68 of 80

Coach Z said it right follow his advice.

 

Personally I learned how to ski powder before I went Cat or Heli Skiing.  Why the heck would I spend all that money and not be able to really enjoy the experience. Watch the weather, follow the storms and go ski some powder at a resort before you ruin someone elses day by slowing up a cat operation.   Since you have never skied powder, listen to the experience here on Epic, you don't have any idea how much work it is getting up out of a good powder dump.  Something that will tire you out very quickly.  And, you will fall if you have never experienced powder before.

post #69 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by smackboy1 View Post

 

This thread really was intended to answer the question of "where I should ski", not "how I ski". Rest assured I'm not going anywhere without talking to the operators first about the expected ability level. And I have no intention of being "that guy" that holds everybody else up on the slopes. Let me just say that I comfortably ski inbounds black runs in the NE and out west, and I have no problems in boot high crud at Whistler and Tahoe. I never stem or wedge except in the lift line. But I have never skied in the type of snow found on cat and heli trips: light fluffy untracked powder over 6" (I like to sleep in late). I am not a beginner skier and I would argue I'm not really an intermediate either.

 

When I read Steamboats level 1 description, it seems designed for people like me. To quote:

 

"It is the introduction to the backcountry experience for people who have not yet experienced it... At this level, we will ski mostly gentle, wide open zones or runs with sparse trees with minor access into avalanche terrain. Your guides offer instruction, assistance with technique and tips for you to gain more confidence in your powder skiing/riding ability.

Skiers and snowboarders at this level are strong intermediates or advanced skiers/riders who:

  • have limited powder experience
  • are confident on all blue runs and will occasionally ski black runs on a lift served ski area
  • are comfortable making smooth parallel turns when skiing"

 

Other programs explicitly catering to my demographic are SWS, Big Red Cats and CMH. If there are any other I would like to know. It also seem that maybe some resorts may be able to fulfill my needs too, so I'm investigating those too.

 

Like I noted before, go to Alta or the Bird or somewhere else where you can reliably expect to hit some powder days (Grand Targhee, as others have mentioned, would be an excellent choice!) and gain some experience skiing powder.  Even if you have to hike a bit, you can almost always find untracked.  But I couldn't help but laugh when I read what you said above in boldened letters.  For crying out loud, GET OUT OF BED!  I don't care what the conditions are; fresh snow or cordoroy, the best skiing of the day happens in the first hour of the day.  If you go cat skiing and sleep in, you're in the lodge for the day.  They aren't coming back to get you at 11:00.  Make a point of going where you can find some fresh snow and go out and get it.  Don't waste your money on a cat skiing trip until you've gotten a bit of the hang of how to ski it and there are opportunities to go somewhere to learn.  Good luck and put up a trip report when you get it done.

post #70 of 80

I missed that quote 

Quote:
(I like to sleep in late)

Even at the cat/heli places they will get you up by 7AM and you will be fed, dressed and on your way by 9AM.  For resort skiing a powder skier who likes to sleep in late is an oxymoron.

post #71 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

I missed that quote 

Even at the cat/heli places they will get you up by 7AM and you will be fed, dressed and on your way by 9AM.  For resort skiing a powder skier who likes to sleep in late is an oxymoron.


Depends what resort you're skiing. See: Best Resort to Ski Powder

post #72 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post


Depends what resort you're skiing. See: Best Resort to Ski Powder

 

I would agree. I have had many powder days where I got to sleep in a bit.

 

And lets not forget the powder days where it starts snowing in the  am and just gets deeper after lunch. 

post #73 of 80

For those of you from CA, you may be interested in knowing that a new cat operation may be operating this winter out of Bridgeport/Conway Summit: www.facebook.com/HighSierraSnowcat 

post #74 of 80

^^^^They need to get a website set up, as there are a few of us out there that will not deal with FacePlant for information.

post #75 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post
 


Depends what resort you're skiing. See: Best Resort to Ski Powder

 

A 7:00 AM conversation with my wife last year:

 

Her: "Yawn- how much did they get?"

 

Me: "Only 11 inches. Lets sleep in."

 

OP- To me it seems like a waste of money to spend the $$$ on a cat ski day when you don't know what you are doing. It seems that money would be better spent booking to a resort depending on the storm track 10 days out and taking a lesson.

 

Learning new stuff is commonly frustrating. Struggling at new stuff when you spent a ton of money can be very frustrating and can ruin the experience.

post #76 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by tilleyii View Post
 

For those of you from CA, you may be interested in knowing that a new cat operation may be operating this winter out of Bridgeport/Conway Summit: www.facebook.com/HighSierraSnowcat 

I have skied in that area a bit over the years, some great peaks spring up around there.  The last time I was there, we snowmobiled into a friends cabin at Virginia Lakes for a week in April, it snowed all week!  In the late 70's we went heli skiing with an outfit called Sierra Guide Service.  $125 for the day!!

 

Stev & Dookey do some of their summer patch skiing off of Dunderberg Pk.  There is usually no lack of snow in that area.

 

JF

post #77 of 80
Bridgeport has an unusually cold microclimate for the Sierra. That should be a plus for snow quality in that area.
post #78 of 80

Thanks Mike for referring us!

I just came upon epicski while reviewing www.selkirkpowder.com  's Google Analytics

UPDATE

We're pleased that we were recently ranked #2 Best Overall Cat Skiing in the US by the powderhounds.com

You can read our review here http://www.powderhounds.com/USA/Cat-Skiing/BestCatSkiing.aspx

The weather precipitation predictions for northern Idaho are looking super too

post #79 of 80

I would say hands down the best place for an intro into powder skiing up in the Northwest is Big Red Cats near Red Mountain. It's simple, BRC runs 3-4 cats a day, each cat loaded with riders of similar ability and they start you off on lower slope angles, with less trees and terrain that you are comfortable in. By having cats filled with similar abilities you're not going to feel intimidated like your holding back some expert riders or vice a versa. Your all going through the same process, learning how to have fun in the powder. Big Red Cats even offers kids 12 years and up the opportunity to get out there and experience deep powder. 

 

   17 year old Justin Meredith on his first deep powder experience at Big Red Cats

 

 

Now down in the Intermountain area (Jackson-Targhee) as GoldMember mentioned, Grand Targhee is another great spot. The reason GT is good for intro pow skiing, the area they run they're operation in was slated to be part of the resort. In a nutshell you will be riding in areas that have been logged, cleared, de-brushed and set up as ski runs. You don't have to worry to much about the trees here. 

 

I've experienced both of these operations, both are run extremely well. I've never really met a guide who doesn't help his guests with riding tips and some instruction. This is what they do, provide you with a great experience so you'll keep coming back.

 

Skiing powder with grace takes time, it's all about repetition, getting comfortable in that type of terrain and finding a rhythm. Cat skiing offers that time and time again. At ski Resorts, yeah you can get lucky and hit it on the money but with Cat skiing it's pretty much there all the time. 

 

 

Here's a short video on a group of kids first deep powder experience.

 

post #80 of 80

Bob from Freeride Media is right BRC is a great op., and very well respected.

Children can rip it with their folks on the back of Schweitzer in northern Idaho with us too.

Imagine a road trip with your junior powder posse, taking in SP and BRC. Priceless!

 

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