Lunch is included for you and we will accommodate all dietary needs/requests as long as it's noted on your waiver form.
It's usually a mix of wraps/sandwhiches and home baked goods. Water and tea is available, but we recommend bringing a personal water bottle. Coffee is not provided, so you may like to bring your own.
Yes! 12 is the minimum age, and students age 12-17 must ski with a parent. Age 12-18 the parent must still cosign the liability waiver and accept responsibility.
If you are a strong intermediate skier or boarder, able to ski with confidence on blue (red in Europe) runs at ski resorts in varying snow conditions (not necessarily powder), you are then ready for snowcat skiing with us in an Intermediate group. You should have been skiing actively for several consecutive years. Backcountry snowcat skiing is not for beginner skiers. As a local rule of thumb, you should be able to ski Red's Paradise "Mini-Bowls" before signing up for an Intermediate tour, you should be comfortable in the "Powderfields" before signing up for an Advanced tour, and you should be enjoying to ski in the trees at Captain Jack's or Cambodia before considering an Expert tour. If you aren't sure, it is better to underestimate your ability than to over-estimate.
No, of course not!
It is not permitted to drink alcohol or use any non-prescription drugs during your cat skiing day. It is permitted to bring a can (cans only please) of beer to enjoy after you have completed your final run of the day, and what you do in the evenings is your own business, but there can be no drinking during the day, as your inability to focus on instructions may impact the safety of yourself and others in the group. If you are found to be doing either of the above, you will be "benched" - told to sit in the snowcat for the rest of the day and discontinue skiing. If you request to be removed from the area, there is a $50 charge. If you must smoke cigarettes, please consider others and position yourself downwind, so that they can enjoy the fresh air in the great outdoors.
Layers are best! In general, temperatures range between -1 and -10. However, prior to mid February we potentially can get brief periods of very cold arctic air with temperatures in the range of -20 to -30 Celsius. Please be prepared for all mountain weather conditions. We recommend that you bring a face mask or a snorkel for those days when the powder is so deep the every few turns you have a mouthful of snow.
Big Red Cats has very quick and easy access to its ski terrain, which makes a multi-day experience simple and painless, even while staying at the resort. It is about a 25-30 minute highway drive from our meeting point at Red Mountain Resort to our snowcat shed. Because the highway takes us all the way up to 1500m, it is a simple and quick process. You can take our shuttle bus, or there is parking for your own vehicle if you prefer. The daily avalanche training is performed there, and from the cat shed, it is only 40 minutes to the top of the first run.
Note: If you are a part of a multi-day full-cat group booking, you only need to do the safety briefing on the first day, and can arrange for the quick program on subsequent days. In that case, it is just a 12-15 minute drive to the close highway drop, and only 20 minutes in the snowcat before your first run - not significantly different than the first-run travel time if staying at a remote lodge! Only one of the 3 cats can do the quick drop, and the group heads out to the more remote terrain at Mt Mackie, Venus, and Claw - skiing on the way out and in on Mt Crowe and Neptune.
We take your safety, and ours, seriously. BRC has never had a fatality but there is always risk of injury and possible death in the back-country because we are dealing with a natural and uncontrolled environment.
Over our 15 year history there have been two avalanches involving a full avalanche burial, with one person sustaining long-term injury. Injuries, especiially to knees, resulting from falls and impacts with trees and rocks, are more common.
The level of risk is similar to driving your car on a snow covered road for the day. Over a 40 year period of cat skiing in BC there have been 2 avalanche fatalities this is out of an estimated 1.2 million skier days. This graph below from the Utah avalanche centre provides some perspective. We think this is about right - that if you come cat skiing that it is about half the risk of going parachuting, and about half the risk of running a marathon.
In addition to the lead and tail guide, we believe that we are the only cat skiing operation of have a mobile safety team on the mountain almost every day. During our ski guide training course, we will often have a 3rd tail guide with the group.
Some of the many steps that we take to help manage this risk are: