Powderhounds Review

Powderhounds Review

9 Day British Columbia Ski Tour
World Nomads Travel Insurance
Our Cat Skiing Ratings
Powder  
Overall Terrain  
Alpine Terrain
 
Tree Skiing  
Intermediate  
Advanced  
Expert/Extreme
 
Guiding
 
Snowcat  
Avalanche Safety  
Safety Briefing  
Frills  
Value
 
Overall  


Review of Cat Skiing Revelstoke

The Powderhounds headed out with Revelstoke cat skiing for a revel in the powder for the day. Here are a few of the pros and cons of the operation:

Pros:
  • The proximity of the cat skiing to the Revelstoke ski resort and the ability to only do a single day is a major plus, as it provides flexibility to mix and match the powder experience with lift accessed riding and heli skiing.
  • Being situated next to the resort and the ability to use the lifts enables fast access up to the snowcat staging area in the morning, and a fast ski or board down at the end of the day.
  • This isn’t a hard core BC cat skiing operation, so it’s very well suited to first time cat skiers.
  • This is a finely tuned operation. It is incredibly well organised and the super friendly bookings officer and the guides do a great job of clearly outlining what the program for the day is. You certainly aren’t left wondering what is in store.
  • The price is very reasonable and includes breakfast, lunch, an après beverage, après snacks, and equipment rental, of which there is a large range to choose from.
  • Revelstoke gets lots and lots of snow.
  • From the perspective of avalanche risk, the cat skiing terrain is pretty much considered to be part of the resort, so it is not just monitored but also actively controlled through interventions such as blasting.
  • The cabin of the cat is incredibly luxurious, including comfortable fabric covered seats, heating, and steps for easy access. 
Cons:
  • The terrain size available is tiny in comparison to other cat skiing BC operations and is only about a third of the size of Whistler Blackcomb. If it hasn’t snowed for a few days, parts of the runs may be tracked out. The set up and size of the terrain is more similar to that found with US cat skiing. The up side for the small size of the terrain is that the guides know it incredibly well which improves the safety.
  • Some of the freshies are stolen by ski tourers (although if RMR gets their way, they’ll be prohibited) who can get easy access to the bowls from the resort lifts.
  • Due to the limited amount of terrain, the Revelstoke cat skiing can only run a few days a week (unless there’s been a storm) and they cancel tours on a regular basis if it hasn’t snowed for a while. Don’t make the cat skiing your primary reason for visiting Revelstoke or you may be disappointed.
  • Whilst this is great for newbies to cat skiing and it’s a lot of fun, there are much better BC cat skiing operators for hard-core expert skiers and snowboarders, with bigger terrain and more freshies on offer. 
Check out our cat skiing ratings to see how Revelstoke cat skiing fares against other North American cat ski outfits. 

A Revel in the Powder with Revelstoke Cat Skiing

My thighs were incredibly fatigued from ripping up the long groomers at the Revelstoke resort for two days. The lifts are so fast that it feels as though there is only a nano-second of respite between runs. I needed a rest day, but the lure of cat skiing was enough motivation to wake up my quadriceps and get out there to revel in the powder.

The cat ski day started at 7:30am with registration and an introductory spiel before a gondola ride up to the day lodge. Awaiting us was a breakfast of pastries and fruit, and an initial safety briefing. Another gondola ride, a chair lift ride and a quick warm up run down Hot Sauce, and we got to feel “naughty” by ducking the rope of the ski boundary. Through the trees we could see the bright yellow cat – our special chair lift for the day.

We received a comprehensive safety briefing which would have been very good delivered by anyone. But this session was given by Rochus the lead guide, and his German accent sounded just like that of Arnold Schwarzenegger. His accent reminded me of the days of ski school and being told to “bend your knees”, so the content of what he was saying seemed to hold more importance.

As I neared the cat, I realized how lavish it was. I’d never seen steps on a cat before, and as I walked into the cat I was fascinated by its luxury. Fabric covered plush Captains Chairs, carpet covered walls to dampen the noise - this was very refined. I got so comfortable sitting in my chair that when the cat stopped at the top, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get out. It was snowing lightly and the visibility up the top was dreadful, but I quickly remembered that I wasn’t here to sit in the cat. There was powder to be had.

We skied down a little way to the tree line where the visibility was much better, and I was thankful that we were booked in to cat ski today rather than heli ski. Rochus stood at the top of the tree run and said something along the lines of “follow me but leave a reasonable gap between each other”. Either his words were lost in translation, or some of the riders were just so keen to sample the powder that his comments were completely ignored by some who flew down simultaneously.

In some respects, their over-keenness was understandable because the powder was knee deep and very enjoyable. I was very thankful for the loan of some fat skis, as the powder was a little heavy in places, but excellent nonetheless. It hadn’t really snowed for about 4 days so it was great that the snow had remained reasonably fresh, and that it was untracked at the top of the run. As I carved turns around the many trees, I could hear Rochus yodeling to us to check we were OK. I couldn’t imagine that Arnie would yodel?

The next few runs in the trees were just as enjoyable, although I was a little annoyed at the lack of politeness of some of my fellow riders. One guy in particular was a complete “powder pig”. The concept of taking it in turns to get fresh tracks up the front didn’t seem to occur to them, and I felt sorry for a few unassertive people who always seemed to be the last ones to start the run. Normally it wouldn’t matter if the freshies were limitless, but the bottom parts of the runs were already tracked out from previous days. Ah, not to worry, I was still having a great time.

I have a few friends that tease me about my Lake Louise tree well whistle that I have hanging off my ski jacket, but today I felt some comfort in its presence. The trees well were rather deep, and they were also wide, so it made the trees feel closer together than they really were. My tree buddy managed to land in one of the tree wells, and as I skied up to him to provide assistance, I had to give into my initial instincts to laugh hysterically and then get the camera out. Only after I’d fired off a few shots did I agree to help him out of his little fix.

The skiing was great but it was nice to get back in the cat, warm up and have a rest. Good snacks were also being passed around the cat. There were a few girls on the trip and it was nice to have a little female company in the cat. We didn’t talk about hair and nails all day, but it was just nice that the decorum of the day was heightened through their presence. I’ve never understood why more girls don’t go cat skiing. Don’t they realise how good cat skiing is? Great powder, no cold chair lift rides, no sweaty hiking, and when the cat is as lavish as this one, it sure beats resort skiing hands down. And when you get gourmet rolls and hot chilli for lunch, why would any girl (or guy) not want to go?

After the yummy lunch the guide decided it was time for an alpine run. The visibility had improved a little bit so this was our big chance. The steep run was awesome and it was lovely to have a little more open space without the fear of coming in contact with a tree well. The snow was deep and silky, and the run was so good that I told Rochus that I wanted to kiss him for picking such a good run. Apparently that was the best compliment he’d ever received about his run selection, and I’d hoped it was an incentive for him to let us do the run again. Alas it seemed that it was a detractor because the next run was back in the trees. I had nothing against the trees, but that alpine run was just sooooo good that I wanted to do it again and again and again.

After eight runs it was time to call it quits. We did the limbo under the resort boundary rope, and flew down a long run to the day lodge for après snacks and beverages. The groomers were such a contrast to the great powder we’d been playing in earlier in the day, and an incentive to go out cat skiing again another time. It was such a fabulous experience. In the words of our guide Arnie “I’ll be back”.


150