This past long Easter weekend, Allan and I headed out to Mustang Powder for some freaking incredible catskiing. We had 3 days of amazing untouched powder and pretty much snowboarded until our legs fell off. Oh — and we took TONS of video footage… so stay tuned for that video coming soon. I also have a contest in this post for THREE full-day lift tickets to Grouse Mountain, so keep reading.
What is catskiing or catboarding you ask?
Well, you load all your gear into the bus…
… then you head up the mountain on a “snowcat”… which is a huge machine with a cab for twelve people that can take you up and down the mountain.
You arrive at the lodge, in the middle of nowhere with gorgeous mountain ranges all around. Yes, you are living and sleeping right at the top of the mountains. Allan and I were very fortunate. I won a contest to go to Mustang Powder (although Allan paid for his full trip)… so we didn’t really know what to expect. It was my first time EVER going catboarding.
The rooms are comfortable with their own private bathrooms… but to be fair, you almost never spend any time in them.
The lodge is soooooo amazing. Vaulted ceilings, all wood beams, and they didn’t use a single nail (apparently it’s some kind of peg system?). There’s enough room for 24 guests there, but since it was the end of the season they only ran one cat… so 12 guests.
The lodge really is in the middle of the mountains.
And there was a HECK of a lot of snow. It had been snowing all week and we got a few feet of fresh powder the day we arrived.
Their terrain is pretty incredible. Allan has gone catboarding before and he said it was the best operation he’s ever been to. The amount of terrain they have above the tree line is breathtaking.
Yep, you couldn’t wipe the grins off our faces. It was ridiculous.
We were riding in waist and knee deep snow the entire trip. We hooked up the GoPro HD for a few shots by sticking it on a pole to get a better wide angle. Worked pretty well!
The gladed runs were probably my favourite. They have a ton of old growth trees, but also some great runs with new baby trees that were fantastic.
The food. MAN. I did NOT expect this kind of food. It was gourmet meals every day for breakfast and dinner, not to mention a huge lunch spread to make your own.
Meals included chicken with beurre blanc sauce and capers, lamb osso bucco, a huge piece of bison tenderloin, fresh homemade pastry for lemon meringue, cheesecakes, carrot and coconut soup, broccoli cheddar soup, beautiful salads, and fresh blueberry pancakes for breakfast! My only complaint was that they didn’t seem to get the allergy concerns we listed on the admission sheet, so my recommendation is to make sure the kitchen receives your concerns on the very first day.
There’s a lot to do in the lodge too. There’s a full bar with premium liquors, a huuuuuuuuge outdoor hot tub, and a games room with pool and foosball and books.
One of the days I also got to go out on a snowmobile and do a private film shoot with one of their ski stars, Bruno. It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to show you the video footage.
It was great to make new friends in the group, and I hope we all stay in touch.
This is one of my FAVOURITE photos from the whole trip. Check out our lines in the snow. Check out the incredible terrain. Holy crap, yes, that was a LOT of powder this past weekend.
The snowcats were brand new too, so they were super fast and we rarely ever had to wait for the cats to pick us up and bring us up and down the mountains. They have over 30,000 acres of terrain, so there was always a new untouched run to do.
The group we had was fantastic… 11 guests and a couple staff members to guide and help out. I can’t say how awesome the guides were (thanks for helping to carry my camera gear and dig me out on multiple occasions!) and the group was a really fun mix of people who were all friendly, and good skiers and snowboarders! From left to right back to front: Garrett, Roger, Dell, Kieran, Gail, Paula, Allan, Nigel, Ben, Greg, Bruno, Cam, and me. Kieran and Paula are owners and operators of Big Red Cats, so it was neat to see them there too and talk about their operation as well.
Our group had a pretty fast pace and on one of the days we managed to cover 22,000 vertical feet! Yes, that is for ONE day of skiing! It was surreal to look back up at our tracks.
At the end of each day, I felt exactly like this dog. I was exhausted. But I was also very, very happy. By the end of the third day I was actually getting my legs underneath me and I think I’ll be a lot more prepared for next time.
Nick and Ali Holmes-Smith are the owners and operators of Mustang Powder, and they are one of the nicest couples you will ever meet. I gotta say they have a pretty charmed life with their three girls, dogs, catskiing operation for the winter and summer farm with horses for the summer. Crazy, eh? They invited us back for next year and I CAN’T WAIT!
It was the end of the season so the entire group of guests plus all the staff said their goodbyes. It was sad when it was over. It was the best snowboarding trip we’ve ever gone on, and without a doubt we’ll be back next year. Stay tuned for videos!
GROUSE MOUNTAIN LIFT TICKET CONTEST
I am also giving away THREE full-day lift tickets courtesy of Grouse Mountain here in Vancouver, BC. You’ll have to use them before the end of the season, but considering the amount of snow we are getting, you could very well have a powder weekend!
What: Three, full-day lift tickets for Grouse Mountain that must be used before April 30, 2010.
How: Just leave a comment on this blog post and you’ll be entered!
When: I will draw the winner on Saturday, April 10th at 10:00 PM. (So you can use them on Sunday if you want)
Good luck, thanks for reading