Keefer Lake Lodge

Overall Rating

Keefer Lake Lodge

Keefer Lake Lodge5.0/54
Keefer Lake Lodge5.0 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
Wagner Custom Skis

Keefer Lake Lodge

Overall Rating

Keefer Lake Lodge5.0/54
Keefer Lake Lodge5.0 out of 5 based on 4 reviews

Keefer Lake Lodge Cat Skiing

Keefer Lake Cat Skiing is a relatively new kid on the block when it comes to cat skiing in BC Canada. The Keefer Lake Cat Skiing team are all very experienced and have high levels of expertise, and being reasonably shiny and fresh has some distinct advantages.

  • Keefer Lake has brand-new deluxe lodges that have been purpose built with cat skiers in mind. The position was well thought out, with amazing views through monstrous sized windows, and easy access to a smorgasbord of terrain (no shuttles to the staging area).
  • All guest rooms have an ensuite bathroom and there are options for single-share rooms.
  • Keefer Lake Cat Skiing has two new snowcats (plus a back-up cat and road building cat) and the cat cabins have been pimped out to perfection.
  • Many of the other Canada cat skiing outfits are booked out a year in advance with long-term returning guests, but with Keefer Lake you actually have a chance of scoring a spot. However Keefer Lake Cat Skiing is very quickly gaining in popularity so this is likely to quickly change.

Other highlights

  • The proximity of Keefer Lake Lodge to an international airport (Kelowna) is a huge plus.
  • The levels of customer service are incredibly high.
  • The cuisine is to die-for, whether it be breakfast, lunch, après-ski appetizers or dinner.
  • The Keefer Lake cat skiing terrain has plenty of variety and steeps and it doesn’t bench out, like at some other cat ski operations. It’s ideal for strong advanced to expert skiers and snowboarders and it attracts solid riders so you’re highly unlikely to be stuck waiting for a weak link or relegated to lame terrain.

See the lodging page for more information on Keefer Lake Lodge.

Where is Keefer Lake Lodge?

Keefer Lake Lodge Cat Skiing is located in the Monashee Mountains of BC Canada, southeast of the town of Cherryville.

Keefer Lake Cat Skiing is the closest BC cat skiing to an international airport. The drive east from Kelowna International Airport to the lodge takes about 2 hours, whilst it takes just over an hour to drive from Vernon (near Silver Star Ski Resort, where you might want to warm up your ski/snowboard legs) to the lodge. Big White Ski Resort is also in the region, not too far from Kelowna.

A vehicle with good AWD (all-wheel-drive) or 4x4 with winter tyres is advisable. Driving directions will be provided. A shuttle service can also be provided.

You can see flight options to Kelowna and car rental options here.


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Keefer Lake Cat Ski Terrain

Snow

Located in the interior of British Columbia, the region is renowned for high quality snow, and the elevations (1,400m/4,600ft – 2,140m/7,000ft) are about 200m higher than nearby Silver Star Resort. The Keefer Lake Cat Skiing tenure scores 14 metres of powder per season, which equates to 46 feet or 550 inches and double the amount of snowfall of Silver Star.

Terrain

The tenure is spread across a massive 86,500 acres (135 square miles) in the Monashee Mountain Range. There is over 50km (31 miles) of snow roads and not all the terrain is actively used at the moment. Keefer Lake are continually developing the terrain through additional road building and glading.

The type of terrain is delightfully varied and includes open bowls, alpine chutes, nicely spaced glades and old growth cedar forests, and some tight-ish trees for good measure. Approximately 10-20 % of the terrain is alpine/sub-alpine whilst 80-90 % is gladed/trees.

Runs are between 300 and 800 metres long (1,000 - 2,500 ft) and expect powder bliss vertical of about 2,500 to 4,600 metres per day (8,000 to 15,000 ft). As to be expected, the amount of vertical is dependent on the conditions and the speed of the group as a whole.

Skiers and snowboarders as a minimum should be strong confident riders in a variety of snow conditions.

See the Powderhounds review for more information on the terrain.

The Powderhounds' Review of Keefer Lake Cat Skiing

We had an absolutely phenomenal time with Keefer Lake Cat Skiing and we kept raving about it for a long time afterwards! We knew it was going to be very good, but it still managed to blow away our expectations.

Of course even though we think that Keefer Lake Cat Skiing is an extraordinary operation, no company is absolutely perfect for everyone. Our review covers different aspects of their operation and hopefully you can determine if Keefer Lake Lodge is likely to align with your priorities. As a guide to the ratings below, a 5/5 equates to absolutely phenomenal, 4/5 is excellent, whilst 3/5 is still a very good score. You can check out our cat ski ratings to see how Gostlin Keefer Lake fares against other mechanized backcountry operations.

Pros
  • The snow was phenomenally deep and dry. The only downside was that my tree buddy left big clouds of cold smoke in his wake when he was out in front and it was hard to see (not really a problem!!).
  • Keefer Lake Cat Skiing has plenty of steep terrain and some very steep terrain, and unlike some BC cat skiing outfits, the slopes don’t bench out to boring mellow slopes before you hit the cat track.
  • Whilst all the terrain is below the treeline (with a little sub-alpine terrain), the runs are all very varied and you won’t suffer from déjà vu.
  • The two lodges are new and lovely, and single rooms with ensuite are available for those who don’t want to listen to someone else snoring. The lodge design has been really well thought out, and the ski rooms are very cleverly laid out.
  • The lodge staff provided exceptional levels of service, and there was superb attention to detail.
  • The snowcats are new and fast and the snowcat cabins are very well designed with attention to detail. As one example there are individual overhead storage compartments with heating outlets so you can dry your gloves and helmet/goggles between runs.
  • Whilst the operation is very new, the owner, Jeff Gostlin, came with extensive experience with a very reputable BC snowcat skiing operation. His guides are very proficient and professional, and not at all pretentious.

Cons

  • A degree of glading and alder clearing has been undertaken, but the exits from some of the runs were a bit heinous. Additional glading over time will enhance the lower parts of the terrain.
Powder Snow
Keefer Lake is situated in a nice powder belt that receives very respectable volumes of snow that are smack bang on average for a BC cat skiing operator. The quality of the snow is generally excellent and typical of the BC Interior. The top elevation is about 200 metres lower than the average for Canada cat skiing outfits, which could potentially play out a fraction during warm spells.

We scored phenomenal snow during our time at Keefer Lake Cat Skiing with plenty of fresh, and in the upper elevations the powder was absolutely divine. It was soft fluffy ego snow. The snow on the warm up runs each day was a bit heavy, but this is pretty common to most snowcat ski operators.
Overall Terrain
We were extremely impressed with the terrain. It was kick-arse! In many parts it was super steep, and others just plain steep, and towards the bottom of the runs it only mellowed out a little. Ingress traversing was negligible and terrain variety was also a huge plus. The tree skiing in particular varied incredibly.

The overall terrain is really large, but it hasn’t been fully developed as yet, and there was probably only enough terrain for easy fresh tracks for 2 snowcats for about 4 to 5 days. This will improve over time as Keefer Lake builds more roads and glades more terrain.

Due to the fresh snow, we luckily had an abundance of untracked lines. The terrain shape (plus guiding) allowed us to spread out laterally somewhat to get freshies, and there were only a couple of runs where we were forced into choke points and others’ tracks, which is somewhat common at other operations.

Each of the 3 days we didn’t do that much skiing, with from 2,237 (7,340ft) to 2,903m (9,525ft) per day, compared to the likely 2,500 to 4,600 metres per day (8,000 to 15,000 ft) of vertical that Keefer Lake cite. Yet it felt like our powder appetites were adequately satiated each day (but if you’re a super fit powder pig you might have wanted more!). We didn’t feel like we were a particularly slow group (I’m sure all groups say that!) and the lack of efficiency was probably mostly due to some long snowcat rides. Rather than working one area, they seemed to move around a fair bit. The upside was that every run felt very different.

Not many runs just suddenly dropped you onto the cat track, and the exits in the ungladed areas were often super sporty with little shrubs and alder in tight gullies/creeks. Yet it was worth it for the privilege of riding the phenomenal upper terrain!
Alpine Terrain
Like a lot of BC cat skiing, Keefer Lake doesn’t have a lot of alpine terrain. There’s a very tasty bowl with alpine chutes as well as steep pitches that have scant trees more akin to sub-alpine. These lines are reasonably short but very sweet. The very top of the Keefer terrain has some open rolling slopes which are good for fast fun. Whilst not true alpine, the tenure also has some open spaces including avi paths and a few cut blocks.
Tree Skiing
What a joy! Steep tree skiing is Keefer’s absolute specialty. No two runs felt the same and we were impressed with the variety of tree runs. Some are super steep where the trees form mini spines, some just steep, and some parts have rolly terrain. A few areas had been gladed, some are naturally gladed, some parts have nice corridors, whilst some spots are just tight.

Strong Intermediate Terrain


This is not the cat skiing outfit for intermediate powder skiers and snowboarders. Whilst small parts of a run were open and mellow enough for a strong intermediate, there is not one run that in its entirety would be appropriate.
Advanced Terrain
The terrain is ideally suited to upper advanced skiers and snowboarders who are incredibly comfortable in steep tight trees, not your garden-variety-type advanced rider. Much of the upper terrain would be too steep for low-end advanced riders and many of the challenging exits are for experts only.
Expert & Extreme Terrain

Ooh how delightful! Experts will adore Keefer Lake Cat Skiing. There are plenty of challenging lines and some tree chutes, and lots of steeps. Some steep zones have consistent fall-line whilst there are others that are short-lived before they flatten out a bit.

For uber-experts, there isn’t much extreme terrain and whilst there were an adequate number of launching pads, the terrain we saw wasn’t littered with rock features as you find at a couple of other cat outfits.

A huge plus for Keefer Lake Cat Skiing is that it doesn’t attract newbies to powder skiing or intermediates that will hamper the run choice, so experts can play unimpeded.
Guiding
The guiding was incredibly impressive and professional, and the coordination between the lead and tail guide was particularly remarkable. The lead guide instructions were clear and concise and the tail guide consistently conveyed the same message, reinforced the importance of tree buddies a lot, and ensured everyone took it in turns to get fresh tracks. We particularly liked that the guides found a happy medium between allowing everyone to spread out to get freshies, and keeping the group tight enough for safety. The tail guide didn’t socialise much with guests in the snowcat to ensure that stoke levels remained high, but luckily everyone was geed up anyhow.
Snowcat
Jeff Gostlin’s many years of snowcat skiing experience are very apparent in the snowcat design, which was pretty much perfect (except the side windows which were taped shut and didn’t quite seal the gaps). The back steps enabled really easy access and there was no need to “dismount” on the way out, the seats all faced forward and there were 4 view seats on the mezzanine level. The seating wasn’t squishy and the storage solutions were exceptional with lots of hooks, cup holders, cubicles under the top steps, and little overhead storage compartments for gloves and helmets with heating outlets (it was bliss to head out with dry warm gloves!). The new snowcats were fast.
Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
As in commonplace with BC mechanized skiing outfits, there were excellent procedures in place for avalanche forecasting, sharing of information, and guide meetings. Snow stability testing was evident in the field, and whilst the guides talked a little about sluff management, they didn’t discuss avalanche risk much with guests. Every guest had a beacon, airbag backpack with shovel and probe, whistle and radio.
Safety Briefing
The safety briefing covered the basics but a few elements could have been more detailed such as what to do if you witness an avalanche, if someone gets caught in a tree well, and individual practice with the beacon. The briefing was undertaken on the first morning, whilst a little lecture the prior evening might have allowed more detail without cutting into precious skiing time.
Frills
The trappings of the cat skiing experience were superb (as were the accommodation trimmings – see below) and there was plenty of attention to detail. Frills provided included clear information about the daily proceedings, powder skis, and a photography service with some pics shown as after dinner mints. You got to pre-order from a lunch selection and the food was magnificent (particularly the soups), including the snacks. On arrival back at the lodge, hot aromatherapy towels were provided so you could wipe the smile off your face!

Accommodation

Keefer Lake Lodge is not an uber luxury lodge akin to that of Skeena Heli Skiing or the like, but it’s adequately deluxe. Every guest room had an ensuite and there were plenty of single rooms. Apparently a bit of noise travels into the rooms of Black Bear Lodge (the main lodge) due to the vaulted ceilings and lots of glass, whilst over in the Pinnacle Lodge it was incredibly quiet. And it was nice that there were covered walkways between the buildings.

The communal space in Black Bear Lodge has been beautifully fitted out, and whilst the lounge area wasn’t huge, there were plenty of seats near the bar, and for quiet chill out time there was always the option of the little lounge areas in Pinnacle. The games room downstairs was also popular, as was the hot tub.

You don’t expect good wifi from a satellite service in a remote location, but the wifi was reasonable in the main lodge. There was no wifi in the Pinnacle Lodge, so if you did have to catch up on emails, it was hard to find a quiet spot to do it.

The stand out features of Keefer Lake Lodge were the food and service. Most cat ski operations have really nice food, but this was exceptional to-die-for cuisine. Gourmet hot breakfasts were made to order along with some buffet items. Après- ski appetizers were hedonistically good and filling, whilst the delicately prepared dinners were sensational. The wine list was also very good.

The service was outstanding without being intrusive. From the full valet and luggage service on arrival, to water bottles being left in our car on departure, everything was very well thought through. Every staff member knew everyone’s names and other lovely little touches included tissues being left for each female in their ski room cubby.

The design of the ski rooms was impressive and likely testament to Jeff’s long history of knowing how tangled up everyone can get on lodge departure/arrival and the need to dry boots and gear.
Value for Money
It’s always hard to put a price on powder happiness! The rates are a fraction higher than the average for multi-day BC cat skiing (see the Canada cat skiing statistics) but Keefer Lake is truly amazing and you get value from the both the high quality on-snow and off-snow experience. You can’t BYO alcohol and it was rather expensive. You never quite know the value of wine, but the beer prices in particular seemed rather inflated.

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.

Bookings

Click here to make a booking request

Keefer Lake Cat Skiing Safety

Keefer Lake Cat Skiing has a team of experienced and certified guides, and ensures an ego-free operating culture. Some features of the safety program:
  • Avalanche transceivers, safety training, and daily briefings.
  • All guests are supplied with ABS airbag backpack with shovel and probe.
  • Active participation in professional guiding and avalanche awareness communities.
  • Regular equipment maintenance.
  • Safety and first aid equipment on site and in all snowcats.
  • Helicopter assisted emergency evacuation.
  • Backup snowcats and equipment.
All of the Keefer Lake guides are members of the Canadian Ski Guide Association (CSGA) and the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA). Many have been guiding for over 20 years.

Risk avoidance is about planning, preparing, and practising. The guides train and practise year-round. Guides constantly update their first aid training, guiding, and avalanche rescue skills. The guides check conditions daily and hold multiple daily guide briefings, and check and contribute to avalanche safety bulletins. Every season the guides practise large scale avalanche rescue and other emergency scenarios so they can respond to any situation.

As a voluntary member of HeliCat Canada, Keefer Lake Cat Skiing also follows a strict set of operational guidelines to optimise safety. All guests have a radio with them at all times out in the field to communicate with the guides, other guests, or the lodge.

All guests are supplied with Avalanche transceivers and given basic training. All guests are supplied with ABS airbag backpack. Each backpack has a collapsible shovel and avalanche probe.

You may have “fat skis” that are still not fat enough to safely ski the deep snow in the Monashees. If your skis or snowboard are not suitable for conditions, equipment is available onsite.

On the first day you will have a safety briefing before heading out to your first peak. The guides will cover important rules to stay safe around the snowcats and learn how to keep each other safe in the mountains. The group will then head outside for transceiver training and beacon-finding practice until each guest is confident and every radio has been tested.

Keefer Lake Lodge

Bob Legasa02/03/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    51-65
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    USA

Keefer Lake Lodge

Bob Legasa02/03/2019
I have had the pleasure to experience Keefer Lake Lodge from its early infancy days to complete build out. I am blown away with the attention to detail Jeff Gostlin has put into this lodge, snowcats and glading the vast terrain.

From the moment you pull up under the porte-cochère, David the lodge manger is there to greet you while other staff members are shuttling your luggage to your beautifully appointed room. The lodge is a mix of modern and mountain and its quite spacious.

Keefer Lake Lodge is located deep in the legendary Monashee Mountains. This zone is world renowned for its light and abundant powder. Short rides in the custom designed snow cats bring you to some of the most enjoyable powder skiing I've ever encountered. Each year it gets better and better as Jeff and his crew go through and work on the glading opening up areas and putting in new roads. The terrain at Keefer Lake has something for just about every rider from Intermediate to Expert. If you like getting after it, there's plenty of drops, steeps and chutes that will get your heart pumping.

Apres at the lodge starts the moment you pull in from your day of slaying powder with a nice spread of appies and adult beverages waiting for you in the bar area. The bar is custom made from huge logs and timbers and it's a one of a kind setting you would see in an Architectural magazine. Gorgeous! The food is over the top good with a team of Culinary artisans who knock one out of the park night after night.

Keefer Lake Lodge is the real deal and it will not disappoint.

Here's a video from our visit in January 2019. https://vimeo.com/312306620

Phenomenal Time

POWDERHOUNDS.COM28/02/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert

Phenomenal Time

POWDERHOUNDS.COM28/02/2019
Amazing powder skiing
Gorgeous snow!
Fully pimped out snowcats
Celebrating the joys of powder
Fabulous terrain

We had an absolutely phenomenal time with Keefer Lake Cat Skiing!

Pros

  • The snow was phenomenally deep and dry. The only downside was that my tree buddy left big clouds of cold smoke in his wake when he was out in front and it was hard to see (not really a problem!!).
  • Keefer Lake Cat Skiing has plenty of steep terrain and some very steep terrain, and unlike some BC cat skiing outfits, the slopes don’t bench out to boring mellow slopes before you hit the cat track.
  • Whilst all the terrain is below the treeline (with a little sub-alpine terrain), the runs are all very varied and you won’t suffer from déjà vu.
  • The two lodges are new and lovely, and single rooms with ensuite are available for those who don’t want to listen to someone else snoring. The lodge design has been really well thought out, and the ski rooms are very cleverly laid out.
  • The lodge staff provided exceptional levels of service, and there was superb attention to detail.
  • The snowcats are new and fast and the snowcat cabins are very well designed with attention to detail. As one example there are individual overhead storage compartments with heating outlets so you can dry your gloves and helmet/goggles between runs.
  • Whilst the operation is very new, the owner came with extensive experience with a very reputable BC snowcat skiing operation. The guides are very proficient and professional.

Cons

  • A degree of glading and alder clearing has been undertaken, but the exits from some of the runs were a bit heinous. Additional glading over time will enhance the lower parts of the terrain.
Also see our more detailed review of Keefer Lake Cat Skiing and our little video of Keefer Lake

Great Cat Skiing Program

Brent30/01/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    Canada

Great Cat Skiing Program

Brent30/01/2019
We had an incredible 3 day trip at Keefer Lake in January. This was my second time at this operation and it keeps getting better. From the first rate lodge to the steep tree runs, everything at Keefer is top notch. Food was incredible, rooms are very nice - even the cats have glove warmers and low profile leather seats. Easy access from Kelowna airport makes this a great choice for a cat skiing trip. Limited high alpine terrain, mostly tree skiing. They continue to do summer glading to improve the tree runs - which is awesome! The snow here is also world class BC interior champagne powder. Highly recommend.

Superb Service and Phenomenal Powder

Simon11/01/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Expert

Superb Service and Phenomenal Powder

Simon11/01/2019
I just finished a phenomenal ski experience at Keefer Lake! Jeff and his crew really put together the perfect program. Before you arrive even arrive, the service is top notch. Nicole has called to make sure you are prepared the trip, the skiing and logistics to get there. From the moment you arrive to the minute you leave you want for nothing. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is fun and non stop. Keefer's team has thought of just about everything, even making ordering drinks from the hot tub possible!

But we were really there for the skiing, and they did not disappoint! The guides are fun and friendly, and know their stuff. They are super knowledgeable about the terrain and found us incredible snow to ski the entire time. The blow powder was endless and deep. The face shot filled runs left everyone in our cat arguing about which run was best, or who got the best line.

And the cats are luxurious! They feel very custom and include a glove warmer in everyone's personal onboard cubby. Every little detail has been well thought out.

Keefer is worth checking out if you like to luxuriate and crush powder after powder run!
Keefer Lake Lodge Cat Skiing Packages
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Keefer Lake Packages DETAILS
Price p/p From price based on 3-day package which includes 3 days cat skiing & 3 nights lodging in shoulder season
Base/invoice currency is in CAD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,516

KEEFER LAKE CAT SKIING PACKAGES
3-4 nights | 3-4 days cat skiing

Location: Canada | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Price p/p From price based on 3-day package which includes 3 days cat skiing & 3 nights lodging in shoulder season
Base/invoice currency is in CAD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,516
Keefer Lake Lodge offers 3 & 4 day cat skiing packages inclusive of guided snowcat skiing, accommodation (rooms with ensuite) in lovely lodges, meals, snacks and use of safety equipment, including airbag backpack. More
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Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
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Custom Booking Period: Jan 03 - Mar 31, 2020
Min Days: From 3
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