If you are looking to get off-piste, to ski exciting untracked, off-the-grid
beautiful backcountry terrain, try cat skiing. Similar to
heli skiing, cat ski lodges like Monashee Powder Snowcats take you into the
remote, for fresh powder, snow soaked tree skiing, and ski camaraderie amongst
your snow cat companions. What’s cat skiing like? Cool, exciting, snowy,
special. See Monashee Cat Skiing
After a flight to Kelowna, BC, Canada, in the wine-ripe Okanagan valley, we are
shuttled up to the Monashee Mountains to begin our cat ski adventure. A funky
school bus ride takes us an hour 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.
We arrive at the Monashee Lodge, a mile high at 5,300’, to be
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 with the crew and fellow cat
mates. Our cozy room in the attached 3-story Guest Chalet has an en suite bath.
Here all 24 guests are bunked in 16 bedrooms – it’s upscale dorm
style with a
central ski and boot drying room where our safety packs and transceivers are
stored. Guides adjust fat skis for those looking to rent equipment, and we are
debriefed on cat ski safety before bed and dreams of powder turns.
The next four-days of our cat ski trip unfolds 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 we’ll be skiing that day. Rumbling up
the mountain in the convivial confines of the cat, we chat while guides deliver us to fresh
snowy runs with names like Wild West, Top of the World, Trapper, Snake Tongues,
and Steep & Deep – everything from mellow wide open snowfields, to tight snow
laden trees and powdery bowls, plus a few 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 cat. This is more skiing than you usually get heli-skiing,
for less expense, and it's anything but boring.
Favorite runs might require a short hike, like Southern Cross –
the reward is bountiful powder in a big well-pitched open bowl, as we spoon each
other’s signature turns in dry light snow. Cat calls and big smiles ensue,
a few big wipe outs too in the soft fluffy snow with accompanying laughter.
Everyone helps each other, whether its finding a ski buried deep in snow, or
alternating for first tracks, cat skiing is relaxed and more intimate than
Monashee Powder Snowcats has a 17,000-acre tenure, private powder stashes are
shared between two snow cats of 12 that head in opposite directions each day,
with a guide, tail guide and cat driver who keep you safe, skiing and moving to
fresh terrain at every turn. Always you are surrounded by stunning snow capped
peaks, peaceful, remote, breathtaking.
Back at Monashee Lodge by 4pm, skiers head for the two outdoor hot tubs, one is
surrounded by snow for the true outdoorsy. This is the place to be for the
amazing Alpen glow over the Monashee Mountains with a Kokanee beer from the bar.
The masseuse is on hand if you need to be kneaded, or you can connect to Wi-Fi
facebook faceshots to the envy of your friends. Chef’s dinner is served at 7
– with a nice selection of Okanagan wines to pair for purchase. After, everyone
chills downstairs at the Treewell Bar, lounging in leather couches over drinks,
playing pool and viewing the day’s professional photos on the flat-screen TV.
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
laden laps, meet some cool new ski friends in your snow cat, and you may well
find yourself coming back like the majority of guest have in Monashee’s 18
years. 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
Monashee Powder Snowcats is in British Columbia, Canada, the nearest airport is
Kelowna an hour away. Nearby ski resorts include
Big White and Revelstoke if you wish to
combine your cat ski trip with some resort skiing
before or after.