Cat skiing is the new go-to activity on Alberta slopes
Our Rocky Mountain Resorts are off to an incredibly snowy start this winter. Three to four weeks in and snowfall records are under siege. At Marmot Basin the snowy bonanza has allowed them to open their much talked about Tres Hombres terrain two weeks ahead of schedule. And their all-mountain base currently sits at 90cm, well beyond the typical 60cm seen this time of year. And then there’s the powder. Multiple +20cm snowfalls have allowed for amazing first tracks anywhere on the mountain.
Further south at Lake Louise, conditions are reportedly the best in 77 years. To date, they’ve received over 2.5 metres and it’s not expected to stop any time soon. With both of the men’s and women’s World Cup ski races out of the way, this resort is ready to rock the entire mountain for all snow enthusiasts.
At Sunshine Village the base currently sits at 122 cm with all lifts, aside from Goat’s Eye open. This is not unusual for this time of year and mountain crews are working hard on the upper slope traverse trying to get this lift running in the next week or two. Sunshine Village isn’t big on snowmaking. As a result, they are the best at farming snow from other areas on the hill, moving it to wind swept areas that tend to be bare earlier in the year.
There are two primary cat-skiing operations in Alberta. KPOW is located in Kananaskis Country operating out of the old Fortress Mountain location and the Powder Stagecoach is operating on the upper slopes and edges of Castle Mountain near Pincher Creek. Although the pricing is quite similar, both are unique with regards to the terrain and offerings.
The Stagecoach has a daily rate of $399 but there are several early-bird specials that are quite enticing. If you book before December 15 you will also get free performance/powder ski or snowboard rentals, a photo package on USB stick including images of your epic turns, breakfast, a boxed lunch, and a bevy in the lodge at the end of your day. Castle is not open yet but they do expect to be by Dec. 15.
At KPOW the daily rate is $395 until Feb. 15 and $475 thereafter until closing sometime in April. Included is a short bus ride from Fortress Junction to the base, snacks in the cat, and a hot lunch. KPOW operations have started for this season with at least nine bookings available in December.
Upon arrival at the base, both operators provide extensive pre-run safety presentations and avalanche transceiver training.
If you have a limited budget this year and can’t afford a $1,000 Heli-ski day, cat-skiing is an affordable and well worth it experience.