Powderhounds Review

Powderhounds Review

Wagner Custome Skis

Powder Mountain Cat Skiing ReviewPowder Mountain cat skiing and cat boarding conjures up thoughts of deep, deep powder and our experiences at Powder Mountain have not disappointed! Powder Mountain cat skiing was initially reviewed by one of our correspondents (a cat skiing virgin – you can see his cat skiing experience here) and more recently by the owners of Powderhounds.com (we’re definitely not virgins, more like cat skiing hussies!).

We had an absolute ball out with Powder Mountain Cat Skiing. Of course even though we had a super fun day, no cat skiing company is absolutely perfect for everyone. Our review covers different aspects of their operation so you can determine if PM is likely to align with your needs.

As a guide to ratings, 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 Powder Mountain compares to other mechanized backcountry operations (where you’ll note that no operator gets perfect scores).


  • The proximity to Whistler Blackcomb is a major plus for those who want to combine cat skiing with some resort skiing.
  • Powder Mountain receives much more snowfall than Whistler-Blackcomb so there is a reasonably high chance of skiing or boarding in deep powder.
  • This cat skiing is incredibly well suited to first time cat skiers and those who haven’t had a lot of powder skiing experience.
  • Riding fresh powder is fun but the guides make the whole day super fun!
  • The new snowcats are comfortable and have plenty of frills, including steps for easy access, luxurious bucket coach seats, heating and tunes.
  • As with most Whistler activities, a Whistler currency exchange is in play and it’s a little more expensive than other day cat skiing operators. 
Pro and Con
  • Powder Mountain has a strong niche in the cat skiing market for those with limited powder riding or cat skiing experience, so if you’ve never been cat skiing before, this is the perfect place to try it (be careful though, it’s highly likely to become an addiction!). On the flip side, experienced cat skiers may find the pace a little slow and the terrain a little easy relative to some other Canada cat skiing outfits (unless they book out a private cat with their like-minded mates). Of course a day riding fresh powder is still far superior to a day riding at a tracked out ski resort! 
Powder Snow
On our last visit it snowed 25cm overnight at Whistler, whilst it dumped 50-60cm at Powder Mountain. It’s clearly not called Powder Mountain for nothing! Whistler gets 11.2 metres of snow per season so a guesstimate would put Powder Mountain in the realm of about 18-20 metres, which is a mountain of powder!

The only downside is that it’s Whistler-type snow, so sometimes the snow quality is great but it can be very inconsistent and it has a tendency towards being wet. You definitely want to use powder skis or a powder specific snowboard.
Overall Terrain
Powder Mountain has a reasonable range of terrain including some open alpine areas, mellow cut blocks below the treeline, sub-alpine areas with sparse vegetation, and some tight trees. Strong intermediate and advanced riders will find the terrain an absolute blast.

The acreage of the terrain is small in comparison to other Canada cat ski operations. It’s only about half the size of Whistler-Blackcomb, which in the cat skiing fraternity is petite and can potentially limit terrain choice when snow conditions aren’t ideal.

Otherwise Powder Mountain only loses points for factors that are highly unlikely to bother inexperienced cat skiers.

Many of the runs are quite short (an average of about 1,000 feet of vertical) and at the bottom of some runs it really mellows out. The length of the runs is perfect for those still mastering the art of deep powder skiing, and we found that some of the riders were truly exhausted at the bottom of each run.

It depends on the ability and speed of the group on any given day, but generally Powder Mountain only covers about 7,000 to 10,000 vertical feet per day (less than two top to bottom runs at Whistler), which is significantly less than many other Canada cat skiing operations. However we found on both trips that this amount of vertical was more than enough for most of the group. Some were shattered from riding all that deep powder, and a few had to sit out some runs for a rest.

On some days they take out three snowcats and try to group the cats according to ability level (as perceived by the guest). When this occurs, strong advanced and expert riders are more likely to get additional vertical and more challenging terrain.
Alpine Terrain
Powder Mountain has a degree of alpine terrain, and due to the maritime snowpack, there is a reasonable likelihood of being able to ride it compared to some of the BC interior snowcat operations.
Tree Skiing
The treed terrain varies from mellow to moderate pitch, and very wide open cut blocks to reasonably spaced trees.

Strong Intermediate Terrain

The terrain has lots of great open meadows and sparsely vegetated areas that are perfect for strong intermediate riders. Sometimes the terrain drops into steeper pitches for a short while or the trees close in a little, but there’s no terrain that’s super scary. Even if parts of the terrain are a little challenging, the huge advantage of Powder Mountain is that there’s a high likelihood of being grouped with others that aren’t pro-skiers. The pace should be pretty slow and if you fall over 30 times, chances are you won’t hold up the group. The guides can double as ski instructors and they are soooooo patient, and the tail guide is very adept at picking up yard sales!
Advanced Terrain
Advanced riders are highly likely to have a blast at Powder Mountain. Some of the terrain will be adequately challenging, whilst a few mellow meadows may not be, and the terrain doesn’t have much steep tight tree skiing for upper end advanced riders.
Expert & Extreme Terrain
This is probably not Powder Mountain’s forte, but that’s not to say that experts won’t still have fun ripping about in all that powder! The terrain has some short steep pitches and features for hucking off, but the guides generally need to cater to slower skiers so the chances of accessing this terrain may be low (unless of course you pull your own group together).
The guiding was very impressive and we felt confident that they had our backs with respect to safety. The lead guide didn’t always provide specific instructions but this wasn’t necessary because many of the areas were open and the runs somewhat short, so there was little chance of getting lost. The emphasis was on the tail guide who had to work really hard to pick up guests who were submarined in the super deep powder.

Don’s charisma and sense of humour was amazing and the love for his job was infectious. It would be impossible to not have a really fun day, even if there was no skiing or snowboarding!
The snowcat we rode in had a fantastic setup with a little bit of storage, all seats facing forwards, and a door at the rear for easy entry and exit. One of the other snowcats had a setup with some seats facing backwards, which is rather sociable, but not as comfortable when the snowcat is climbing uphill.

Considering the amount of snow they get at Powder Mountain, a major pro is that they take a snowcat out in the morning before the guests arrive to groom the cat tracks. This results in the snowcat being able to move faster which means more skiing and snowboarding!
Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
The Powder Mountain website does not include much information about what they do to mitigate avalanche risk, but out in the field the guides discussed snowpack stability and explained a couple of their strategies. The lead guide dug a snow pit and explained the findings to guests. A few safety backpacks (with shovel and probe) were provided for guests to use.
Safety Briefing
Part of the safety briefing was conducted during the snowcat trip up the mountain. The briefing was reasonably comprehensive, particularly for a day cat ski operation. Most things were covered except what to do if you were the victim caught in an avalanche. The beacon search practice was only conducted as a group rather than individually, and there was no practice with the shovel and probe, just a demonstration of how they fit together.
The frills associated with the day were pretty good. In addition to simple snacks, a lunch of awesome wraps was provided, and they thankfully weren’t soggy like they are with some pre-made sandwiches! No soup or hot drinks were provided.

Powder skis and snowboards aren’t available for use (these need to be rented from one of the Whistler ski shops), but generally they have a photography service. The photos can be viewed during the après ski session (where you can partake in a special Powder Mountain beer!) and you can buy a CD for some visual reminders of a great powder day.
Value for Money
Powder Mountain cat skiing is a little more expensive than other North American day cat skiing operators, and powder skis and snowboard rental isn’t included in the rates. However this is Whistler where lift tickets and many other aspects of a ski holiday are more expensive than other parts of Canada. Of course it’s worth paying the money to get away from the crowds at Whistler ski resort! The amount of powder skiing possible in one day of cat skiing is surely superior to a week’s lift ticket at the resort?!

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. The photos have not been taken using professional riders. They aim to show an example of a “real” experience.