The rough concept of the nowadays highly popular winter sport called cat skiing took shape over three decades ago at Selkirk Wilderness, near Meadow Creek, in the district of BC, Canada. The pioneers of cat skiing are Brenda and Alan Drury, who decided to make use of the potential of ski hill grooming machinery so that they could access backcountry skiing terrain in an easier and convenient manner. The idea turned out to be viable, so the two concentrated their efforts towards building and expanding a specialized network of snowy access ways that could last throughout entire skiing seasons.
Since then, cat sking has grown exponentially, reaching its peak in terms of technological progress and fan popularity over the last 10 years. At present there are 15 widely renowned destinations in British Columbia, plus several other attractive options in the USA, New Zealand and Chile. However, the largest segment of the industry is still found in BC, Canada – the original birthplace of cat skiing.
With the latest technological advancements, the experience of cat skiing has gained lots of ground in many aspects. The new generation of snow vehicles is much more efficient at climbing the rough alpine terrain, thus allowing groups of skiers to access slopes that are not only steeper, but also packed with various natural obstacles, to spice up the adventure of downhill skiing. Moreover, modern snow cats can reach faster speeds, are more spacious, quieter, and not to mention very comfortable, all of which make for a more enjoyable ride.
Cat skiing services can be divided into two main categories: single-day skiing services and multi-day services, with the latter option allowing groups to explore a larger area of remote, wild skiing terrain. With most operations, cat skiing is done in a progressive manner. Therefore, the first few runs may be shorter and less challenging to allow for a proper warm up, while the last rides of the day may cover a wider skiing area and present groups with the opportunity to take on ski circuits that are more exciting. At certain operations, on the last run of the day you may even get the chance to ski all the way down to your lodge. Besides the long distances you’ll be covering during your powder catskiing endeavors, you will rarely go down the same skiing route twice, which means you can never get bored out there on the slopes.
Regular powder catskiing groups are comprised of a lead guide, tailguide, snow cat driver, and about a dozen skiers. Since remote cat skiing lodges generally send out two or three snowcats at once during trips, the usual powder catskiing squad numbers no more than 36 guests.
The type of ski terrain you get to try out mainly depends on weather conditions. For instance, on clear days you can enjoy a genuine alpine powder skiing experience out in the open, while when the weather turns bad you will probably be limited to skiing in the trees and glades. As each of these skiing options has its advantages, for the sake of diversity it may better to try out the complete cat skiing package and walk away with an eventful and memorable skiing adventure in any weather scenario.