• Overall Rating
Pacific Crest Snowcats4.2 out of 5 based on 4 reviews

Pacific Crest Snowcats

Pacific Crest Snowcats (PCS) is California’s only snowcat-accessed private backcountry ski area — 3,000 magical acres hidden in the heart of Tahoe where Pacific Crest Snowcats makes powder dreams come true.

PCS is made up of a small group of local backcountry skiers, former ski patrollers and veteran Alaska heli-ski guides sharing the private backcountry wonderland in their own backyard.

Situated on the North Shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe, their operation is tucked beside the Pacific Crest itself accounting for some of the deepest snowfall in the region.

PCS operate up to 2 snow cats daily with a maximum capacity of 12 guests per snowcats each with 2 guides.

You can book a seat on a snowcat as a solo, a few seats for you and a few friends or book an entire snowcat for a private group.

Pacific Snowcrest Packages

Pacific Crest Day Cat Skiing DETAILS
8 - 12 Runs | Over 12,000 vert feet
From price based on twin/double-share room.
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
From price based on twin/double-share room.
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 399
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Escape the crowds in Lake Tahoe & come and play in the 3,000 acre private powder playground with Pacific Crest Snowcats. Book a seat for yourself, a few of you or a whole cat for a private day with your ski buddies! Seats book out early so be sure to book soon. More
View inclusions
  • Snowcat access to the backcountry
  • Qualified & experienced guides
  • Lunch & refreshments
  • Use of avalanche beacon
Location: USA | 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.
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
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PCS's terrain is centrally located in a hidden area in the heart of Tahoe between Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl; it feels like you’re a world away!

How to get there

By Plane
The Reno-Tahoe International Airport is located approximately an hour away and offers flights from most major U.S. destinations along with rental car and shuttle services. Alternatively, the Sacramento International Airport is approximately two hours west of Lake Tahoe and offers flights from most major U.S. cities along with rental car and shuttle services. The Truckee Tahoe Airport is a community airport that offers service for private aircraft.

By Car
Detailed directions to the PCS trailhead meeting location will be given at the time of booking. Snowcat trips meet at 8 a.m.

Snow & Terrain

Pacific Crest Snowcats operates on 3,000 acres of private terrain located between Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl resorts on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. This area along the Pacific Crest is blessed with some of the deepest snowfall in the region and legendary powder that lasts for days—sometimes weeks—after a storm. Combined with a high elevation of close to 8,000 feet and exclusive access to the area, the powder stays pristine long after the snow is tracked up at area resorts. 

Given the amount of north-facing terrain and perfectly spaced trees, PCS guides can sniff out untracked snow weeks after a legendary Lake Tahoe dump, and the stable Sierra snowpack allows guests to ski and ride aggressive slopes soon after a storm cycle. And although the temperatures in aptly named Coldstream Canyon do wonders for preserving their powder stashes, they do have a number of wide open south-facing bowls that make for great corn conditions in the late spring.

With seven distinctly different alpine zones at their disposal, PCS has the entire spectrum of terrain available for all types of skiers and snowboarders—from wide, open powder bowls to steep, technical lines. Their advanced terrain in particular tends to pleasantly surprise even the most accomplished powder hounds.

On average, runs are between 1,000 and 1,200 feet in length with a few of their longer laps closer to 1,500 feet. This means most groups can expect over 12,000 vertical feet by day’s end… more than enough skiing or riding to feel worthy of a cold beer on the ride back to the trailhead.

Guides & Safety

Pacific Crest Snowcats has handpicked its staff from the veteran patrollers, backcountry guides and avalanche forecasters who call Lake Tahoe home. You can relax and enjoy your day on the slopes in the hands of our professional guides, all of whom are first aid certified, highly trained in avalanche forecasting and control work, and experts in high and low angle mountain rescue techniques.

In addition to finding the best snow conditions, our guides are continually studying the snowpack to become intimate with its various layers and degrees of bonding.

Your guides will tell you what they are doing and explain each run as you go. Guests are trained in the use of an avalanche beacon (which is provided as part of the trip cost) and walk away from the day more knowledgeable about backcountry travel techniques.

"Happy" Dave Rintala
A lifetime guide and founder/head guide of Pacific Crest Snowcats, this reformed Squaw Valley ski patroller’s attitude is infectious to say the least. Happy serves as an avalanche forecaster and consultant for film and industry, and his skill set is overshadowed only by his enthusiasm for the alpine environment. Happy was one of the pioneers of heli-skiing in Alaska and helped developed standard backcountry protocols with other veteran Alaska heli-guides.

Ward Chesnut
Ward is a longtime Lake Tahoe local who has served as a patroller at ski resorts on both coasts. He is the current Operations Manager for Pacific Crest Snowcats and a mechanical wizard who knows how to make the cats purr. In addition to driving and wrenching, Ward is also a first-rate guide.

Robin McElroy
Robin McElroy is a veteran ski patroller at Squaw Valley and a professional skier with several extreme skiing contests under her belt. Her skill as a guide is immediately apparent to anyone who skis with her, and her personality and spirit elevate the fun factor on any adventure in the backcountry.

Ken Manuel

Ken started skiing at the age of four and was a ski patroller at Squaw Valley longer ago than anyone can remember. He has worked as a heli-guide in Alaska and managed backcountry operations there and elsewhere. We are extremely lucky to have him as a lead guide at Pacific Crest Snowcats.

Pacific Crest Snowcats has led trips on our Tahoe site since 2000, and has a perfect safety record. Every precaution is taken to assure your safe enjoyment of the backcountry.

They hire only the best guides and drivers in the business. These folks are first aid certified, and trained in avalanche forecasting & control and search & rescue techniques. Their snowcats are outfitted with state-of-the-art first aid and rescue gear.

At the start of every day guests are walked through a discussion of safety and proper beacon use. This includes familiarization with the snowcat, loading/unloading procedures, rescue scenarios and backcountry protocols. Then you can just relax and enjoy the ride knowing you are in good hands.

Pacific Crest Snowcats Terms & Conditions

All reservations require a 50% advanced deposit with the remaining balance due the day of your scheduled trip. Deposits are not refundable but may be applied toward future days or toward other adventure services offered by PCS.

Although unlikely, if PCS must cancel a trip due to weather, avalanche hazard, mechanical concerns or any other reason, a "snow check" will be issued for the unused portion of your deposit. Full credit will be applied for all unused deposits except in the following cases: No credit will be given if you do not show up for your scheduled trip or if you decide not to go for personal reasons. If you need to cancel your trip due to an injury or other family emergency, please let us know as far in advance as possible as full credit may be considered for rescheduling with the submission of a medical report.

PCS policies are the friendliest in the industry. Because we value our returning clientele, we reserve the right to be flexible in interpreting our policies due to the individual circumstances involved.