• Overall Rating
Valhalla Powdercats4.7 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
 

Valhalla Powder Cats

Ever since my first days on skis the fascination and allure of blasting through bottomless powder has been an infatuation for me and Valhalla Powdercats made my fantasy a reality. There’s something to be said about skiing the infamous “Kootenay Cold Smoke”.

Valhalla Powdercats name says it all. Situated between the coast range Valhalla Powdercats zone gets a lot of precipitation, but without the moisture since it gets dumped before it gets there. Combined with a combination of cold temps, lots of precip, their reputation and rightfully so is for a lot of deep, cold, dry powder.

A typical day riding at Valhalla you get anywhere from 8-12 runs which measures out to about 15-20,000 vertical of untracked. Valhalla provides each cat group of 12 riders with 2 certified mountain guides. At the beginning of the trip each group goes through mandatory safety training in the morning working with transceivers, probes and shovels. Valhalla has this training procedure dialed in and the guide really stresses skiing as a group, not only for safety which is a huge part of it, but it increases peoples’ enjoyment of the terrain. Their experienced guide staff have a tremendous amount of knowledge about their zone making your experience one you’ll remember for a lifetime. Rumor has it they just opened up a bowl which doubles their terrain!

When Cat skiing you work up a mean appetite and back at the cat lunch containers are filled with sandwich wraps and plenty of homemade treats that are prepared daily by the Valhalla staff. Definitely some good eats!

Here is a short teaser of what you might expect on a day with Valhalla Powder Cats...
Ability & Groups: Strong Intermediate to ExpertCome along as a solo traveler, a small group and join a mixed group or rent an entire snowcat for one or more days for you and 11 friends. No matter which way you do it this will be an amazing adventure!

More Reasons to Cat Ski with Valhalla The powder is idyllic and the wicked terrain will keep experienced skiers and boarders very happy. The flexibility of packages is also a major bonus with the opportunity to combine cat skiing, heli-skiing and resort skiing in the Powder Triangle – a hat trick for powderhounds! See our Valhalla cat skiing review for more reasons to gather together with your fellow powderhounds for a great pow wow in the Valhallas.

Valhalla Cat Skiing Packages

Valhalla Day Cat Skiing DETAILS
GUIDED DAY SNOWCAT TOURS
Mixed Group or Private Snowcat
From price based on early season
Base/invoice currency is in CAD ex taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
From price based on early season
Base/invoice currency is in CAD ex taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 374
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Come along as a solo traveler, a small group and join a mixed group or rent an entire snowcat for one or more days for you and 11 friends. No matter which way you do it this will be an amazing adventure! More
View inclusions & Add-ons
Inclusions
  • Full day of snowcat access skiing & boarding
  • Fully guided by qualified mountain guides (max 1:6 ratio)
  • Gourmet lunch during the day
  • Use of avalanche safety gear; beacon, probe, shovel & backpack
  • Transfers to staging area to/from base near Nelson
Add-ons
  • Airbag backpack - CAD $45/day
  • Fat/skis, powder board rental - CAD $40/day
  • Powder poles rental - CAD $5/day
Location: Canada | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
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Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
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Dec 26 - Apr 04, 2018
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Snow and Terrain

A highlight of cat skiing with Valhalla Powdercats is the quality and quantity of the snow. The area is not called the Powder Triangle for nothing! Kootenay powder is light and dry, and the snow falls in abundance with over 450 inches of snow each season. And with 21,500 acres (8,700 hectares) of terrain to choose from and only a maximum of 24 guests, the guides will have no problems finding snow without any powderhound paw marks!

The Valhalla terrain is also a major drawcard. They have steep old-growth forests as well as lots of terrain above the tree-line in alpine bowls and couloirs. The reputation of the terrain at Valhalla is well known amongst strong skiers and boarders. Valhalla Powdercats is not cat skiing for wimps!

The addition of new terrain in Caribou bowl is also a major bonus. Many of the lines here are north and east facing alpine aspects that provide super high quality powder skiing.

Each run covers 1,800 feet (549 metres) of vertical on average, with reasonably good fall line riding, making it attractive for snowboarders as well as skiers. Depending upon conditions and the group’s ability, they cover 7 to 13 runs per day.

Valhalla Terms & Conditions

Valhalla Powder Cats (VPC) accept Cash, Cheque, Credit Card (Visa & MAstercard), Bank Draft or Bank Wire payments. They highly recommend a wire transfer or by cheque as the fees are less for both parties.

BOOKING POLICY

Deposit
A 50% deposit is required to reserve your trip.

Full Payment
Full payment is due 90 days prior to your trip

Late Payments
If you do not pay your final payment on time, VPC reserve the right to sell the seat. Unpaid bookings may be cancelled without notice. VPC always use the same credit card on file to run each payment, unless they hear from you in advance not to do so. If you require them to refund a pre-agreed upon credit card charge, you will be responsible for the 3% credit card fee that they will have to pay to refund the card.

CANCELLATION POLICY

  • All deposits are non - refundable.
  • If you cancel more than 90 days before your trip, your deposit is non-refundable, but is transferable toward any new trip up to the end of the following season. It may not be used toward someone else’s payment on the same trip, but may be transferred to someone else purchasing a new booking.
  • If you cancel within 90 days of your trip, all money on account is non-transferable and non-refundable. For this reason we strongly suggest that all guests purchase cancellation insurance (see below).
  • If you cancel within 90 days of your trip and have paid in full for your trip, and if they find a replacement for your seat, you will a get 75% credit of what they can sell the seat for put toward another trip, valid only until to the end of the following season. Otherwise all money is non-refundable as per above.
  • Guests who cancel do have the option of finding a replacement to fill their seat. VPC will accommodate this at no extra charge if the guests transfer funds amongst themselves. All money on account will be transferred to the new person’s trip payment and will not be refunded to original seat holder.
  • Trip dates may be not be changed within 90 days of the trip.
  • No refunds are given for cancellations of any kind.

REFUND POLICY

  • No refunds are given for any unused portion of any trip, resulting from late arrival or early departure, for extra transportation costs or for any other reason.
  • No refunds for down days, for late skiing departures and/or early returns.
  • No refunds for accommodation or meals NOT used.
  • If you miss days either from illness, injury or other you will NOT be refunded for the time missed.
  • In the rare case that skiing must be cancelled due to mechanical failure or severe weather issues, Valhalla Powdercats will provide ski credits ONLY for the time missed, which may be applied to another ski day(s) and is valid for up to two years from the date of cancellation. This credit is also transferable to another person.

THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS POLICY.

VPC strongly recommend that you purchase both cancellation and medical evacuation
insurance.

The powderhounds went in search of the holy grail of cat skiing by checking out the Valhalla Powdercats. Valhalla is a kick-arse cat ski operation, but no single operation is absolutely perfect for everyone. Our review covers different aspects of the cat skiing experience so that you can determine if Valhalla is likely to align with your priorities.

Pros

  • For powderhounds on a budget, not being locked into an expensive multi-day trip that includes accommodation is a bonus. Nelson accommodation provides good value for money and is significantly cheaper than BC cat skiing lodges.
  • The proximity to Nelson, Whitewater ski area and Red Mountain is advantageous. The flexibility to do single day cat skiing makes it possible to mix and match cat skiing with resort skiing, which is good for the hip pocket.
  • Valhalla offers very inexpensive standby rates.
  • The tree skiing and terrain for advanced skiers and riders is so sexy it’s almost pornographic!
  • You’ll yell louder about the powder because the Kootenay white stuff is pretty impressive, and with 21,500 acres of terrain, the chances of crossing old tracks are slim.
Cons
  • The drive from the Valhalla office in South Slocan to the snowcat was a long one, and much of the drive was on a logging road that was super bumpy. The old bus was noisy and had limited suspension, so the girls had to tighten their bra straps! Thankfully a new bus and a freshly graded road are arriving for the 2011 season.
  • After the bus ride there was a long snowcat ride up the mountain, and considering that much of the safety briefing was done outside the cat, it was a rather late start to the day (and an early finish to the day). This cut into precious skiing time. However the introduction of the new bus in 2011 will improve this, because much of the safety briefing will be conducted during the bus ride.
Powder Snow
The area is not called the “Powder Triangle” for nothing. Kootenay powder is generally light and dry, almost like talcum powder. And whilst Valhalla doesn’t receive as much snowfall as some other BC cat skiing operations, the pow is generally pretty deep.
Overall Terrain
The tenure is moderately large and Valhalla has very good diversity in the terrain on offer - every run is reasonably different. There’s a good mix of alpine and tree skiing as well as variety in the pitch, the spacing of the trees, and the likelihood of finding launching pads. The only minor limitations would be that their best terrain is south facing where the snow quality isn’t as good, and the steep pitch isn’t consistent for the entire vertical and various runs have mellow run-outs.
Alpine Terrain
Valhalla has a moderate amount of terrain in the alpine including steep bowls and chutes of varied widths.
Tree Skiing
Valhalla scores full marks here for variety. The trees were perfectly spaced for many of the runs such that it was easy to get a rhythm, whilst at times the trees were tight, and then it would really open up so that you could let those babies rip. Heinous fun!
Strong Intermediate Terrain

Whilst parts of the runs are adequately mellow for strong intermediate skiers and riders, the terrain is generally not conducive to powderhounds on their “L” plates.
Advanced Terrain
Most advanced skiers and boarders will find the terrain incredibly sexy. The varied terrain and the cracking runs were not too mellow and not too steep, but just right! The terrain had a few drop-offs here and there, and if you wanted to avoid them the guides generally provided warnings about their location.
Expert & Extreme Terrain
With usual snowpack conditions, there’s a moderate amount of terrain that will humble experts. We skied one chute that would fall into the “expert” category, although it wasn’t a narrow chute so it wasn’t too technically challenging. The alpine terrain has lots of narrow chutes, but like most other cat skiing operations, these can only be tackled on the off chance that the snowpack stability is OK.

Otherwise experts will be entertained with small cliffs and other hucking features that are sprinkled through parts of the terrain.
Guiding
Our experience of the guiding was not great, but the lead guide we had no longer works for Valhalla, so all should be fine.
Snowcat
The snowcat cabin was well set up with bench seats that all faced forwards. Two sideways seats were the exception, but these were well designed to minimise sliding towards the back of the cat. The low backed seats made socialising easy, and the cat was well insulated which also facilitated conversation (and some good joke telling from the tail guide!). The snowcat seemed to have super suspension as the cat ride was really comfortable, and another positive was that the steps at the back made it really easy to get in and out of the cat.
Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
Valhalla generally use run avoidance to minimise risk, and occasionally use blasting to control the terrain. Like most other BC cat skiing operations, they have comprehensive risk management systems including guides meetings, well qualified and experienced guides, use of external industry information, and provision of a couple of guest safety packs per snowcat. The Valhalla terrain is a long way from their offices, so it’s not easy for them to send out specific snow safety teams to monitor and control the terrain.
Safety Briefing
The initial safety briefing was not particularly comprehensive in regards to backcountry hazards or what to do in the event of an avalanche. The briefing regarding snowcat hazards was almost non-existent, and the probing and shovelling technique was covered in about 30 seconds. Conversely, avalanche beacon tuition and victim search practice was well done, and the use of modern transponders was a positive for the operation.
Frills
A light brekkie and coffee was available on arrival at the Valhalla office. The frills continued into the day with lots of great snacks and beverages available to keep everyone fuelled. Lunch included lovely gourmet bagels and rolls; not the soggy type you often get with cat skiing and heli skiing.
Value for Money
Whilst Valhalla provides a quality cat skiing experience, the standard day rates are one of the highest in BC Canada, and the use of their powder skis attracts an additional fee. Furthermore, cat skiing for multiple days is not discounted unless it’s for four or more days.

If you’re prepared to take the risk of missing out, the Valhalla standby rates are very inexpensive and amongst the best in the business.

Notes Regarding Review The review is largely based on our experience, but also on discussions with staff, former guests, and information available on their website. Our review has some limitations as it’s not possible to ski every run and in all possible snow and weather conditions. Every guide is somewhat different and we acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different. The ratings are from our perspective only. Check out our cat ski ratings to see how Valhalla fares against other backcountry operations.

The photos and video are not filmed using professional riders, but rather aim to show an example of a “real” experience.

See our BC cat skiing comparison for an overview of costs, terrain size, vertical and location of various cat skiing operations in Canada.


Bookings & Information Requests
If you have any questions or would like to enquire about a specific date click here.

Reviews

Shitty Season. Great Day!

Dan
18/03/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    Canada
Despite it being just about the worst season that most locals can remember, the guides still managed to find some nice, soft snow. The freezing level was above where their highest terrain was but we still got some turns in boot deep snow. In addition, it hadn't snowed in at least a week or maybe even a month (which is almost unheard of in this region) and there was still nice snow to be found. So if you book with Valhalla and you're checking the weather religiously leading up to your trip and it's looking dire, fear not.

In sum, I had a great day and I can only imagine what it would be like during a regular season.

Finally, a word of caution to intermediates. Valhalla says you should be an advanced rider and they mean it.

From a Brit perspective

Bruce Sutherland
16/02/2013
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
Bruce Suherland Review of Valhalla Powder Cas
This is our third visit to Valhalla - probably best trip but we did get a good dump on one day when no where else got much, and both days were led by guides on boards which does help.

The day goes pretty much as the brochure says. New to us was the video on the bus and the avalanche safety thing would be good if you could hear it!

Guides were keen to point out good lines to pop off or not, and were quite young and up for a laugh.

Food is excellent and there's plenty of it - having also been to Wildhorse there is now naturally a question over value. However the amount of kit that Patric and Maria have bought and the spare cat etc etc would justify the extra cost if you were there on a day a cat broke down.

There are apparently plans to expand to three cats per day presumably plus media cat. What do all these media cats do as surely there is a limit to how much BC snow people want to see on video?

The only thing we see as a could do better would be some coffee back at the office when everyone gets off the bus! Apart from that very slick and professional operation.

Valhalla Powdercats

Bob Legasa
11/10/2012
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    51-70
Ever since my first days on skis the fascination and allure of blasting through bottomless powder has been an infatuation for me and Valhalla Powdercats made my fantasy a reality. There’s something to be said about skiing the infamous “Kootenay Cold Smoke”.

Valhalla Powdercats name says it all. Situated between the coast range Valhalla Powdercats zone gets a lot of precipitation, but without the moisture since it gets dumped before it gets there. Combined with a combination of cold temps, lots of precip, their reputation and rightfully so is for a lot of deep, cold, dry powder.

A typical day riding at Valhalla you get anywhere from 8-12 runs which measures out to about 15-20,000 vertical of untracked. Valhalla provides each cat group of 12 riders with 2 certified mountain guides. At the beginning of the trip each group goes through mandatory safety training in the morning working with transceivers, probes and shovels. Valhalla has this training procedure dialed in and the guide really stresses skiing as a group, not only for safety which is a huge part of it, but it increases peoples’ enjoyment of the terrain. Their experienced guide staff have a tremendous amount of knowledge about their zone making your experience one you’ll remember for a lifetime. Rumor has it they just opened up a bowl which doubles their terrain!

When Cat skiing you work up a mean appetite and back at the cat lunch containers are filled with sandwich wraps and plenty of homemade treats that are prepared daily by the Valhalla staff. Definitely some good eats!

Valhalla offers up a variety of different packages, from 1 day to 5 day trips. You can also hook it up for the ultimate trip with Valhalla’s Sister company Snowwater Heli skiing and do their “Kootenay Sampler” One day at red Mountain, Two days Valhalla cat skiing, One day Ainsworth Hot Springs to rejuvenate and then fly into Snowwaters mountaintop lodge for the pinnacle in skiing, 3 days of heli skiing. Now that’s the Mother lode!

Valhalla Powdercats

Bob Legasa
11/10/2012
    • Age
      51-70
    • Ability
      Expert
    • Rider Type
      Skier
    • Country
      USA
    • Month:
      January
    Ever since my first days on skis the fascination and allure of blasting through bottomless powder has been an infatuation for me and Valhalla Powdercats made my fantasy a reality. There’s something to be said about skiing the infamous “Kootenay Cold Smoke”.

    Valhalla Powdercats name says it all. Situated between the coast range Valhalla Powdercats zone gets a lot of precipitation, but without the moisture since it gets dumped before it gets there. Combined with a combination of cold temps, lots of precip, their reputation and rightfully so is for a lot of deep, cold, dry powder.

    A typical day riding at Valhalla you get anywhere from 8-12 runs which measures out to about 15-20,000 vertical of untracked. Valhalla provides each cat group of 12 riders with 2 certified mountain guides. At the beginning of the trip each group goes through mandatory safety training in the morning working with transceivers, probes and shovels. Valhalla has this training procedure dialed in and the guide really stresses skiing as a group, not only for safety which is a huge part of it, but it increases peoples’ enjoyment of the terrain. Their experienced guide staff have a tremendous amount of knowledge about their zone making your experience one you’ll remember for a lifetime. Rumor has it they just opened up a bowl which doubles their terrain!

    When Cat skiing you work up a mean appetite and back at the cat lunch containers are filled with sandwich wraps and plenty of homemade treats that are prepared daily by the Valhalla staff. Definitely some good eats!

    Valhalla offers up a variety of different packages, from 1 day to 5 day trips. You can also hook it up for the ultimate trip with Valhalla’s Sister company Snowwater Heli skiing and do their “Kootenay Sampler” One day at red Mountain, Two days Valhalla cat skiing, One day Ainsworth Hot Springs to rejuvenate and then fly into Snowwaters mountaintop lodge for the pinnacle in skiing, 3 days of heli skiing. Now that’s the Mother lode!

    Steep and Deep

    JW
    18/08/2011
    • Recommend
    • Would Revisit
    • RiderType
      Snowboarder
    • Rider Level
      Expert
    • Rider Age
      36-50
    This place had the best snow and terrain of any snowcat operation I've been at (4 different places including AK) and compared to some of the heli terrain I've done. The steep chutes, trees and deep powder were great fun and the guides put us on greatly varied terrain run after run.

    We were lucky to have 3 continuous days of puking snow, almost 4 feet in 3 days. By the 3rd day the snowpack was getting loose and the guides had to really pick the terrain wisely to keep us safe, but also steep enough so that we didn't have to walk on the outruns to the cat. They did a GREAT job and we lapped run after run of short (maybe 1k vert feet) but steep treed face-shots all day.

    Only complaint was that we had some would be hot-shots that wanted to huck off of anything and everything (that's OK) but couldn't land it (NOT OK) and we spent several valuable and costly runs worth of time searching for their skis and poles. In my opinion 3 strikes and you're out...no more hucking if you can't land it. Not fair to the group to miss 2 or 3 runs because of your ineptitude. Unfortunately the guides did not reel these guys in so the group suffered.

    Other than that it was a great experience and I highly recommend checking them out.

    Steep & Deep

    JW
    18/08/2011
    • Recommend
    • Would Revisit
    • Rider Type
      Snowboarder
    • Rider Age
      36-50
    • Rider Ability
      Expert
    • Country
      Canada
    This place had the best snow and terrain of any snowcat operation I've been at (4 different places including AK) and compared to some of the heli terrain I've done. The steep chutes, trees and deep powder were great fun and the guides put us on greatly varied terrain run after run.

    We were lucky to have 3 continuous days of puking snow, almost 4 feet in 3 days. By the 3rd day the snowpack was getting loose and the guides had to really pick the terrain wisely to keep us safe, but also steep enough so that we didn't have to walk on the outruns to the cat. They did a GREAT job and we lapped run after run of short (maybe 1k vert feet) but steep treed face-shots all day.

    Only complaint was that we had some would be hot-shots that wanted to huck off of anything and everything (that's OK) but couldn't land it (NOT OK) and we spent several valuable and costly runs worth of time searching for their skis and poles. In my opinion 3 strikes and you're out...no more hucking if you can't land it. Not fair to the group to miss 2 or 3 runs because of your ineptitude. Unfortunately the guides did not reel these guys in so the group suffered.

    Other than that it was

    Valhalla Powdercats

    simon rees
    12/08/2010
    • Recommend
    • Would Revisit
    • RiderType
      Skier
    • Rider Level
      Expert
    • Rider Age
      36-50
    The Valhalla mountains just outside Nelson B.C are fantastic - I was lucky enough to have a blue bird day with no wind. The snow was reasonable (it hadn't snowed for 2 weeks) but the terrain for most part was steep and narrow. It tested most of ski group and I must say it was exhillarating. The guides were great and I found the experience totally worthwhile. Put Valhalla Powdercats on your list of things to do.

    Heaven for Powder Warriors

    POWDERHOUNDS.COM
    16/07/2010
    • Recommend
    • Would Revisit
    • RiderType
      Skier
    • Rider Level
      Expert
    • Rider Age
      36-50
    Valhalla sits in the Powder Triangle of BC and is generally blessed with lots of lovely powder. The terrain is also kick-arse for advanced and above riders with lots of variety and amazing tree skiing.

    For a more detailed review see our Valhalla cat skiing review.