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Steamboat Powder Cats (Blue Sky West) - any good?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Anyone have experience cat sking with this outfit? I'm going there in Feb/Mar and this looks like a fun (albeit, expensive) day. Curious if folks have used these guys before.

post #2 of 10
I skied with them in January of '03 after they had accumulated 5' plus of fresh. You drop your boots off the afternoon before your trip and they fit them to the powder skis they provide (Pocket Rockets at the time). You get picked up early morning and take a 30 minute ride to the powder cats.

They have three levels of groups, beginner, advanced and expert, and match the terrain to the group level. I went with the beginner group along with my 11 year old son and some other friends. The first run was not steep at all and, given the amount of snow, I just pointed them straight and hoped I wouldn't get stuck in the stuff. Later runs were much steeper and a lot more fun.

You are supposed to hook up with a buddy and stop and help if they fall. I got grouped with my son and his friend and soon found that one or the other was going to fall in the snow that was deeper than they were tall. I spend a lot of time helping them get regrouped. One guide leads the group and two follow and I realized that I should take the first run and count on the guides to help the boys. My experience was fanatastic after that. The snow was so deep it was like bouncing back and forth, up and down on a slow motion trampolene.

Some of the intermediate skiers had an absolutely dreadful time. Ass over tea kettle and a 15 minute dig out once, twice and sometimes three times on a run. A few skiers stopped after 2 or 3 runs and the pace picked up.

The guides were good, but there is not much time for instruction. They were safety conscious and were the upbeat, earthy-crunchy types you would hope to ski with. If I did it again, which I hope to do in March, I would do it with the advanced group. Now my son is a few years older and more experienced, I think he would have a great time. I think an athletic intermediate with the right attitude would do well in the intro group.

Hope this helps, David.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

You really meant to say 5 feet, and not 5 inches? That is a lot of snow.

Thanks for the details. One thing I'm confused about: you said you were in the beginner group and that some of the intermediates had a bad time. So, when you say beginner group, you mean beginner as in never skied in that much snow before right?

I'm trying to get my g/f to join me. She's an intermediate boarder, but she gets a little freaked in deep crud -- now, keep in mind when I say crud I'm talking PNW heavy 20% water content crud. The snow there up in buffalo pass is a lot lighter than this. I'm a very strong intermediate skier who wants to get better in fluff.

post #4 of 10
Yes, it was five feet. One of the guides had my son, who was a little taller than 5' at the time, jump in the snow and it came over his head.

As far as the terrain, there was nothing really intimidating about it. It looked a lot like blue runs any intermediate would be happy to ski/ride on, although this was completely untracked. With the conditions we had, the folks who had trouble found difficulty dealing with the amount of powder as opposed to the terrain. And those that were a bit shy kept skiing in the tracks the guide broke and ended up moving at a much faster pace than if they had broken their own trail.

I was in the same boat as you when I went. A strong intermediate looking to improve in powder. The powder skis are definitely a huge help. Combine those with truly untracked conditions and you can have a great skiing experience. I've rarely been able to find comparable untracked stuff in a resort setting.
post #5 of 10
I skied with Blue Sky West one day a few years ago when a friend came to visit. We had a good time, with lots of skiing, and nice guides. They gave us opportunities to ski beautiful open areas and gladed areas. I've heard nothing but praise for their operation. Mostly, we take snowmobiles up on Buffalo Pass to ski pretty much the same areas. If the snow is fresh, it's very light. If it has had time to set up, it can be a bit heavy with a wind or sun crust.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
rob & stmbtres thanks for the info. on top of the skiing, it looks beautiful back there in buffalo pass. definitely got to put this on my list for the visit. just got to figure out a way to get the g/f to go, and come up w/ the dough.

just hoping for good snow. I was there this year, first week of march after a snow drought, and we only had a dusting of snow; it's still one of my favorite places - a real town w/ real people.

post #7 of 10
Or you can leave the g/f behind if she is too timid. My then girlfriend now wife blew out her ACL 2 days before and getting a complete day away at that point was just what the doctor ordered. If I were you I would rather focus my energy on getting the most out of the day and not whether she was having a good time.

I love the place too. I will be there in January and in March. Once with the family; once with the boys.

Let me know how it goes.

post #8 of 10
I did a day with them about three years ago, had a great time-money well spent in my mind. I went with the intermediate group and it was still a pretty accomplished bunch of skiers/riders. I think we ended up with about 15,000 vert for the day. Have fun!!
post #9 of 10
Man, this was one of the best days of skiing I ever had. The guides were pro, the intermediate terrain was challenging but not crazy, the snow cat was warm and rockin' with tunes (we listened Mountain all day...what else?), and when we broke for lunch...they put out a spread at this little cabin in the middle of nowhere that would have blown many restaurants away. In fact, I think on of the restaurants in town caters it each day. I think I had lasagna.
The snow was epic. Not one track did we see anywhere all day, and the guides were very patient. Sure...a few people biffed, but the comraderie in the group gave everyone support and encouragement.

I'm a PNW skier like you...but I go to the 'Boat almost every year...and you better believe their powder is different than ours. If you're concerned about GF, take a powder lesson or two once you get to Steamboat...it will be money well spent. Blue Sky (formerly steamboat powdercats) is a terrific operation...and you will remember that day for the rest of your life.
post #10 of 10
Great trip, good people. i did a few days in 00. I would go back in a heartbeat.
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