Always wanted to try cat skiing but can’t justify the cost? Well, for those of us lucky enough to live in the Elk Valley, day trips to Island Lake Catskiing are an option – endless powder runs without the expense of lodging.
And spring is the perfect time to get on a cat and get your last fix of powder to get you through summer.
I headed up on Sunday to see what all the fuss is about. Meeting the cat at Island Lake parking lot at 7:30 a.m. is the hardest part of the day – getting up early is not something I relish. Luckily, once at the lodge, there was plenty of coffee, along with fruit and croissants. I perked up. We then went through some basic avalanche rescue training – essential for anybody heading out into the backcountry. Although the terrain at Island Lake is controlled (there was heli-bombing being carried out while we were there) safety is the priority, and no chances are taken.
We ended up with a perfect blue bird day. The group I was with were all experts and wanted to get as many runs as possible. In the end we did around 12, but nobody was really counting. For all of us snow snobs, cat skiing can bring out a whole new level of fussiness. A couple of runs had a slight sun crust on the snow. No big deal, but when you are getting used to runs of soft, fluffy untracked champagne powder, your standards are suddenly elevated to a ridiculous level. Luckily, our guides Steve and Mel knew where to take us to find the snow that the sun hadn’t reached, and pretty soon there was really nothing we could complain about. The day flew by and before we knew it we were enjoying apres-ski at the lodge before heading down to the parking lot again, and I headed home to sleep in my own bed.
It’s good to be local!
To find out more about cat skiing and Island Lake Catskiing’s day trips for $419 per person, call 1-888-422-8754. Sign up for the waiting list for day cat skiing at www.islandlakecatskiing.com or drop by the office downtown.