Aching for a fresh take on alpine skiing? Craving pristine runs? The Canadian Rocky Mountains are legendary for powder and here’s a novel way of experiencing it: cat skiing. There are only two cat ski operators in Alberta and they’re waiting to show off their mountains. So grab your fat powder skis and make this winter all about cat skiing adventures.
Imagine this: Huge snowflakes fell all night. Frozen evergreens look like overgrown cotton balls and the mountain’s glistening, shimmering and completely untouched. The cat heaves and lumbers up a steep pitch as you ascend with your small group. Riding in a grooming machine sure beats waiting in the lift line. This is backcountry luxury, folks. Skiing in Alberta takes on new meaning when the mountain’s all for you.
Royal Treatment at Castle Mountain
I felt like a queen as the Powder Stagecoach rolled our small group up Haig Mountain. Like me, this group of skiers and snowboarders wanted a different experience, a day of uncompromised turns and big mountain lines.
The cat parked at the top and out we stepped, a colourful group in down jackets and graphic powder skis. The lead guide set first tracks and then I was up. I turned my skis, let them glide and soon I was floating on the marshmallow-like surface. There’s nothing like the feeling of freshly fallen powder. I wasn’t skiing. I was flying.
Castle Mountain has over 1,416 skiable hectares (3,500 acres) and 610 m (2,000 ft) of vertical. Tall pines and rugged peaks give it a serene, ethereal feeling, as if everyone else was stuck at school and the mountain was left just for us. This is where the term “snow day” takes on a whole new meaning.
Enter the Fortress
Whether you like wide bowls, studded glades, or views that will make you cry with joy, Fortress Mountain Cat Skiing – affectionately known as KPOW for Kananaskis Powder – beckons. The mountain is located just over an hour west of Calgary in the heart of Kananaskis Country. It’s a full day, all-inclusive, professionally guided experience that you can book as an individual or privately with a group of friends.
The Fortress cat opens up unbelievable terrain with no crowds and no tracks. The only waiting you’ll do is when the cat takes you up the mountain for another run. And trust me, you’ll need the rest. Warm up your feet and eat an energy bar because during an experience like this your adrenaline will outlast your body every time.