Selkirk Powder Guides

Overall Rating

Selkirk Powder Guides

Selkirk Powder Guides4.5/55
Selkirk Powder Guides4.5 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Wagner Custom Skis
Selkirk Powder Company Cat Skiing
Avalanche Beacon Search Practice
The Selkirk Powder Snowcat
Ken Loves His Job!
Lots of Reasonably Open Areas to Let it Rip!
Selkirk Powder Cat Skiing Idaho
Silky Boot Deep Powder
Selkirk Powder Cat Skiing Terrain
Super Fun Terrain
Selkirk Powder at Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Inside the Snowcat Cabin
Tree Skiing With Lots of Variety
Plenty of Space to Open It Up
A Few Features to Keep it Interesting
Selkirk Powder - More Fun!
Selkirk Powder Cat Skiing ID
Fresh Lines of Powder Galore
A Good Mix of Mellow and Steeper Lines
Snowcat Skiing
It's Hard Not to Smile!

Selkirk Powder Guides

Overall Rating

Selkirk Powder Guides4.5/55
Selkirk Powder Guides4.5 out of 5 based on 5 reviews

Selkirk Powder Cat Skiing

The Selkirk Powder Company offers fabulous cat skiing near Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Idaho. The Selkirk Powder snowcat skiing provides a chance to ski or snowboard abundant lines of fresh snow to achieve the ultimate “powder day”. At many US ski resorts you’re lucky to get “powder hours” before the snow gets tracked out, but with this Idaho cat skiing outfit, you’ll get an amazing powder day fix without having to fossick for freshies.

Schweitzer Mountain was named after a Swiss man (Schweitzer in German) who lived a solitary life at the bottom of the basin. According to local folklore, the hermit had an affinity for stealing cats to make cat stew and the authorities put him in a psychiatric asylum. If only there had been cat skiing over a century ago. The Swiss man could have gone crazy for eating powder instead of cats!

Selkirk Powder Company Cat Skiing Packages

Selkirk Powder Company offers day cat skiing packages. Of course if you love one day of cat skiing (which you definitely will), you can do multiple days if your budget allows.

The cat skiing includes the guided snowcat skiing, a one ride lift ticket, lunch, snacks, water, and use of an avalanche transceiver.

If you don’t have your own powder skis, you can rent these from one of two Schweitzer ski shops.

You’ve also got the option of Selkirk Powder Company heli skiing.

Where is Selkirk Powder Snowcat Skiing Located?

Selkirk Powder Company is based at Schweitzer Ski Resort in the Selkirk Mountains of the northern Idaho panhandle. Schweitzer is just 12 miles from the town of Sandpoint Idaho and 94 miles northeast of the Spokane International Airport (in Washington).

The registration desk is located inside the main day lodge at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, whilst the cat skiing takes place in the backcountry behind the ski resort. The day starts with a quick ride up the mountain on the Great Escape chairlift, so there is no long snowcat ride to get to your first run.

Selkirk Powder Company is part of the Selkirk Powder Triangle along with Schweitzer, Whitewater and the cat skiing and heli skiing near Nelson, and Red Mountain and Big Red Cats. The Spokane Airport is the main gateway to all these areas, so it’s easy enough to warm up at Schweitzer before heading north to British Columbia.

Selkirk Powder Guides Cat Skiing shouldn’t be confused with Selkirk Snowcat Skiing further north in Meadow Creek British Columbia.


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Selkirk Powder Cat Ski Terrain

The Selkirk Powder Company cat skiing terrain is 4,350 acres in size and you only have to share the backcountry with up to 19 other cat skiing guests across 2 snowcats. The terrain consists of largely west and north facing slopes with elevations that range from 4,500 to 6,660 feet (1,372 to 2,030 metres). The cat skiing is below the treeline so there is lots of fabulous tree skiing, but there are also lots of open cut bowls and areas with very sparse vegetation where you can let it rip!

There are no seriously super steep slopes, but a few lines have a pitch of over 40 degrees, and there are also lots of reasonably mellow meadows. The terrain could be described as moderately difficult.

Minimum ability level is for very strong intermediate off-piste riders who are competent riding black diamond terrain, ungroomed slopes, and in amongst trees.

A day of cat skiing with Selkirk Powder Company averages about 8 to 11 runs and 10,000 vertical feet, depending on conditions and the ability of the group. The average run length is about 1,200 vertical feet (366 metres).

Powderhounds Review Selkirk Powder Cat Skiing

Some USA cat skiing operations that are attached to a ski resort are a bit ho-hum, but Selkirk Powder Company definitely isn’t one of them. We’re letting the cat out of the bag that this is one wickedly fun cat skiing operation. We had an amazing time!

Most cat skiing is fantastic, but not every cat skiing company is absolutely ideal for everyone. Our review covers different aspects of the Selkirk Powder Guides outfit so you can determine if they are 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 Selkirk Powder Guides fare against other cat ski operators.

Pros
  • The location behind Schweitzer Ski Resort is ideal so that your vacation can combine cat skiing with resort skiing. You can also go heli skiing with Selkirk Powder.
  • The co-location with Schweitzer Mountain Resort also improves safety aspects because the cat skiing operation has the backup of the resort ski patrollers if required. However it’s not like some other US resort based cat ski outfits where it seems like it’s just part of the resort. You definitely feel that you’re out in the backcountry.
  • The easy access to the Selkirk Powder cat skiing terrain is a huge bonus. Rather than a long snowcat ride, it’s just a quick trip via a chairlift to get to the top of the first run.
  • The speed of the day and the cat skiing terrain are marvellous for strong intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders.
  • The guides know the area and any potential terrain hazards like the back of their hand.
  • The maximum group size is 10 guests rather than 12 or 14. The slightly smaller group size can equate to more freshies and a more personalized experience.
  • If the conditions aren’t right, they don’t go out. Occasionally they don’t discover this until the first run, but they’ll still give you a credit for a 24 month period. So you won’t blow your dough on riding crap snow!
  • The snowcat cabin layout makes for a very social day.
Con
  • The terrain size is reasonable, but at 4,350 acres it is less than the average for USA cat skiing operations (but larger than the median). Whilst we scored plenty of fresh, we also skied a fair amount of tracked snow. And as is very common in the US, a portion of the cat ski tenure is not on private land so ski tourers can poach away.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • The terrain is mostly low angle, but many experts will find it to be a very fun day out nonetheless.
  • Those looking to score maximum vertical may come away feeling a little unsatiated.
Powder Snow
The Selkirk Powder Company cat skiing terrain receives about a third more snow than the Schweitzer ski resort, which puts the average annual snowfall at about 400 inches (10.2 metres) per season. This is about average for US cat skiing. Selkirk Powder typically doesn’t get huge dumps of snow at a time, so you’re unlikely to ski nipple deep powder, but this makes it more manageable for those that haven’t skied an abundance of deep pow.

The quality of the powder is generally very good; not superb like you’d find in Utah, but far superior to that of coastal concrete. The area is renowned for sometimes getting wet icy fog layers, and on the plus side, the slopes are largely west and north facing terrain, so lots of sun doesn’t get in there to ruin the snow, and much of the terrain is also protected by trees.

When we headed out with Selkirk Powder Company, the snow was generally gorgeous silky boot deep powder that was just a dream to ski. In a few spots there were some crusty bits.
Overall Terrain
The terrain was soooo much fun. It’s largely tree skiing and there is very good variety with respect to the spacing of the trees. And the logging gods have come into some areas, creating open fields where you can hammer it down, as well as avenues from former cable routes.

The runs are reasonably short (which is typical for US cat ski operations) and some are interrupted by a few cat tracks. A huge amount of vertical was not covered in the day and the snowcat beat us down every time. The main contributors to not getting in more skiing were: too much re-grouping; the guide waiting for guests to stop talking; the guide over-explaining runs; and the day had to finish whilst the ski resort was still open. The amount of vertical was low relative to BC cat skiing, but it was about average for US cat skiing, so the terrain is most suited to advanced and very strong intermediate riders who don’t need to rack up a wealth of vertical.

A potential limitation of the terrain is the size, so we were often crossing old tracks (some from ski tourers). Once again this is pretty typical of US cat skiing, with 13 outfits that have smaller terrain than Selkirk Powder (it’s 7 times bigger than the Grand Targhee cat skiing terrain which people go a long waitlist for!). If you want to go big, then consider going out heli skiing with Selkirk Powder.
Alpine Terrain
Selkirk Powder doesn’t have alpine terrain per se. They don’t have alpine chutes or massive bowls, but there are various areas that are very sparsely vegetated that are a lot of fun if you want to perfect your powder turns or go like Speedy Gonzales. Snowpack stability is not a major problem, so it would be pretty rare that these areas couldn’t be accessed.
Tree Skiing
The tree skiing is Selkirk Powder’s forte and it’s super enjoyable! They have loads of variety with regards to tree spacing that ranges from avenues of trees from the loggers running cables up the hill, to reasonably open burns. The tree skiing offers a moderate diversity of pitch. They’d score full marks if they also had really steep trees with more features and little drop-off treats.

Due to the profusion of trees, the cat skiing doesn’t suffer from the same foggy visibility issues that commonly afflict Schweitzer ski resort.

Strong Intermediate Terrain


This cat skiing outfit can cater for very strong intermediates (skiers would definitely need fat skis). The trees are a little tight in places and intermediates would need to take it very slowly, but much of the terrain consists of widely spaced trees and open areas on moderate pitches where strong intermediates could happily play. The speed of the day and the amount of vertical would also suit those who find powder riding a little taxing.
Advanced Terrain
This is a blissful paradise for advanced riders; just superb. Selkirk Powder Company would score full marks if there was a little more variety in the alpine and a few more steeps, but otherwise it’s awesome!
Expert & Extreme Terrain
There isn’t really any extreme terrain at Selkirk Powder; no gnarly chutes, big pillows, or cliff lines. There are a smattering of rocky drop-offs for those that love to leap but these are rarely skied due to the typical group make-up. If you’re looking for super steeps and pro-skier type terrain, you’d be advised to head elsewhere.

“Mere” experts won’t find the terrain challenging but will probably be adequately entertained whizzing around the trees and revelling in the powder. There is some potential you’ll be grouped with slower skiers and boarders, so if you want to churn up the powder, book the whole cat out with your like minded friends.
Guiding
The guides did a great job of describing any terrain hazards and they knew the terrain incredibly well; so intimately that I think they had a romance happening with the terrain! The guides were passionate, lots of fun and kept the stoke levels high. Regrouping felt too frequent and some of the instructions were very lengthy, which is hard for those of us with a short attention span! And one of the guides had a few strange ideas about the definition of “fall line”.
Snowcat
The snowcat cabin had a really unique layout that worked very well. It had two bench seats that faced each other with a big table in the middle (which is why there’s a maximum of 10 guests only), which was handy whilst eating and for laying out gear (and could double as a massage table as well!). Storage was also reasonably well thought out with various hooks and drink bottle holders.

The set up was really conducive to chit chat amongst the whole group. Usually it’s a limitation having rear facing seats, but there was a rail for your feet to prevent slipping forwards. Side entrances can also usually be a limitation, but there were good handles and the steps went out the back so it wasn’t too hard to get in and out.

The cabin had wrap-around Perspex windows so it let plenty of light in, and there were mini vents to let some air in, in case some folks get a little too sweaty!
Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
SPC have some reasonably comprehensive safety procedures, yet the safety protocols weren’t very evident to guests out in the field. The avalanche risk status wasn’t discussed, or any strategies the guides were undertaking to minimise risk. The terrain is generally very low risk with respect to avalanches, and the guides see very few natural avalanches in the tenure, which would likely account for their risk mitigations strategies not being overtly conveyed to all guests.

Whilst all guests were supplied with an avalanche beacon, only one guest safety backpack was provided to the group that contained a shovel, probe, first aid kit and radio.
Safety Briefing
Selkirk Powder Company used to show a video during registration that covered most safety aspects, albeit superficially. Now they have a video that’s been beautifully produced but doesn’t cover much information except for a quick overview of what to do in the initial stages of an avalanche.

A very short practical briefing was also conducted which didn’t really cover beacon searching except that the numbers should get lower, and nothing about probing or shovelling.

Nevertheless, this is probably the best safety briefing we’ve seen amongst the USA cat skiing operators.
Frills
They keep it reasonably simple at Selkirk Powder with a focus on the skiing and snowboarding rather than too many associated frills. Sometimes they have a photography service which is charged per photo. There was no breakfast or après ski session included, but of course you can easily DIY these aspects.

Lunch was pretty good and included hot soup, fresh bread, mini wraps with turkey or beef, mini rolls, cheese, crackers and meat. Snacks included chocolates and muesli bars, and water bottles were provided.

The day commenced with a very clear check-in process to outline the process of the day.
Value for Money
The rates are only slightly above the USA cat skiing average, but Selkirk Powder has more on offer than most of the cheaper cat skiing companies. All those delicious powder turns are a good investment!

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 not the same and we acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different. The ratings are from our perspective only.

Fun Turns

POWDERHOUNDS.COM21/07/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    5

Fun Turns

POWDERHOUNDS.COM21/07/2019
Plenty of room
Lots of widely spaced trees
Mellow trees
A unique snowcat cabin layout
The clouds were coming in and out
Many USA cat skiing operations that are attached to a ski resort are a bit ho-hum, but Selkirk Powder isn’t one of them - it’s one of the best snowcat outfits in the US. Akin to other USA cat skiing, Selkirk Powder isn’t in the same league as those high profile BC cat skiing operators that have luxury backcountry lodges, highly regulated safety procedures, and massive terrain, yet SPC still offers plenty of fun at a fraction of the investment.

Pros
- The location behind Schweitzer Ski Resort is ideal so that your vacation can combine cat skiing with resort skiing (and heli skiing).
- The easy access to the Selkirk Powder cat skiing terrain is a huge bonus. Rather than a long snowcat ride, it’s just a quick trip via a chairlift to get to the top of the first run.
- The speed of the day and the cat skiing terrain are marvellous for strong intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders.
- The guides know the area and any potential terrain hazards like the back of their hand.
- The snowcat cabin layout makes for a very social day.

Cons
- The terrain size is reasonable but not large, and we had plenty of fresh along with a good dose of tracked snow.

Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
- There’s minimal true expert terrain.
- Powder hungry skiers and snowboarders looking to score maximum vertical may not get their fill.

You can see our full Selkirk Powder Cat Skiing review for more information and also see our cat skiing ratings to see how it compares.

Awesome introduction to cat skiing!

Jennifer Weaver01/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    USA
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    5

Awesome introduction to cat skiing!

Jennifer Weaver01/03/2016
Ken describing the terrain
Snow ghosts protecting the open terrain
My trip with Selkirk Powder Company in late February 2016 was my first cat ski adventure and was instantly one of my favorite experiences in my 25 years of skiing.

I was initially nervous (remember, first timer), but our guide, Ken, was outstanding and quickly put me at ease. He was full of energy ("right on!"), excited to introduce us to his mountains. He knew a ton about the area; in addition to providing helpful guidance about what to expect with the terrain ahead, he also gave us historical and geographical lessons - it's cool to learn about the area you're skiing. He really could not have been nicer or more encouraging.

The rest of the crew was great, too. Our booking and check-in experience was very smooth. The snacks and lunch they provided were tasty. And our cat driver was chill and safely/quickly transported us from the end of our runs up to various drop in points.

We had a beautiful bluebird day, so the views were terrific. Even though it had been a few days since the last snow, we had plenty of opportunity to lay down fresh tracks. Ken was great about tailoring the trip to his clients' skill level and interests.

This quote from Ken really summed up the attitude with which we attacked the day: "It's a big wide world, let's all go grab a slice of it and have a good time."

What a Great Trip(s)

Jamie Holliday22/12/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Home Country
    United States
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    5

What a Great Trip(s)

Jamie Holliday22/12/2015
I have skied with Selkirk Powder Company numerous times and it is consistently the best off piste skiing experience you can count on. They are friendly, happy to show off their vast terrain; they feed you (piping hot pizza if you want it) too! The logistics are the best I've experienced, you get your beacon and training in the main Lodge (Schweitzer Mountain Resort), jump on the Great Escape Quad zooming to the top of the Resort, then after counting heads and testing beacons you get to go through Selkirk Powder Company Gates onto the untouched shaded and gladed backside of the resort. Normally off piste, it's now yours, and just a few of your friends. This is a wonderful opportunity to see what all the fuss is about getting first tracks all day long, with no lines, no hurries and no worries. You will love this if it's your first experience in the back country, or one in a long list of great places to make deep turns. I'm booked for this year, watching videos from past trips, already excited for what will surely be another Great Trip with Selkirk Powder Company!

Selkirks Powder

Ken01/03/2013
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    N/A
  • Rider Level
    N/A
  • Rider Age
    N/A
  • Admin Rating
    5

Selkirks Powder

Ken01/03/2013
Kens Review of Selkrik Powder
SPC offers a complete backcountry experience. Access is super easy -- no long ride in on a bumpy cat road, just a quick ride up Schweitzer Mountain Resort's Great Escape high speed quad. At the top, you meet your guide and the day begins, ducking through a backcountry gate into SPC's vast acreage.

SPC'S terrain is primarily forested glades, both densely wooded and thinly wooded. While not offering any super steep terrain, SPC makes up for it with tremendously fun terrain, a virtual natural terrain park. There are no long traverses and boarders and skiers alike may have a pleasurable experience.

Guides are very familiar with the terrain and maximize the experience. The guides are enthusiastic backcountry riders and enhance the riding. As is true with all cat skiing operations, a group of good skiers will beat the cat down.

In six consecutive years of visits, snow quality has been consistently excellent. The guides are proficient at maximizing the fresh snow. Even after a week of no new snow, plenty of untracked can be found.

Insider tip: have the hot, pizza lunch delivered by skier to the snow cat for consumption on the ride back up. No wasted time, one more run in SPC's delicious powder!!

Silky Powder Turns

POWDERHOUNDS.COM01/03/2013
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Admin Rating
    5

Silky Powder Turns

POWDERHOUNDS.COM01/03/2013
Powderhounds Review of Selkirk Powder
Selkirk Powder Company is up there as one of the best cat skiing outfits in the USA. If you’re trying to decide on your next ski vacation destination in the US, I’d head to Schweitzer just so that you can go cat skiing!

Like other USA cat skiing operations, it’s not in the same league as most of the Canada cat skiing companies with regards to terrain size, run length and safety regulations, but it’s still a pretty remarkable experience.

We had such a great day out cat skiing with Selkirk Powder. None of the terrain was particularly challenging and the snow was delightfully silky, so it was fabulous for a relatively cruisy experience and a lot of fun.

Major pros of Selkirk Powder include: the guides know the terrain and all its intricacies really well; tree skiing with lots of variety in tree spacing; and fast easy access to the cat skiing terrain.

For more detail, see our Selkirk Powder Company review and our heli and cat ski ratings.

Ski tours


Powderhounds Review of Selkirk Powder
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Selkirk Powder - Day Cat Skiing DETAILS
Price p/p From price based on single day per person.
Base/invoice currency is in USD ex 6% tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 460

SELKIRK POWDER DAY CAT SKIING
Schweitzer Mountain Idaho

Location: USA | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Price p/p From price based on single day per person.
Base/invoice currency is in USD ex 6% tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 460
If you are heading to Schweitzer Mountain or to Northern Idaho you can't go past a fabulous day of snowcat skiing with Selkirk Powder. The day includes guiding, use of avalanche beacon, lunch & snacks and is great value! More
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