Ski Season Starts

My first trip to the mountains this year is to go cat skiing. There is not much snow in the Rockies so it has not been worth the trouble to travel that far. I have stayed home and cross country skied since the beginning of December.

One of the local ski shops, Sundance Ski and Snowboard Shop, is running a trip to Valemount, BC to cat ski. For those unfamiliar, cat skiing is like backcountry skiing without the walking. A snow cat, with us as passengers, makes the up track and we make the down tracks. Way more expensive but also way more productive as far as powder skied in a day. The couple of times I have participated in the past I think I skied 8 or 9 times the vertical of a day on foot in the backcountry.

According to Environment Canada the weekend is suppose to be warm so clothing should not be difficult. I dress more like a day at a resort with insulated pants and a heavier jacket. More than I would wear touring. One produces a lot more heat climbing the side of a mountain than with a cat doing the uphill part. Skiing down is not enough work to keep one warm on a cold day. I plan on taking lots of cold weather gear because we all know how trustworthy the weather forecast can be and I do not want to get caught out. I would rather be far to warm than too cold.

backcountry ski boots

My backcountry ski boots

I am taking my backcountry ski gear though. I have a pair of fat skis that, because of the weight, I rarely hike with. So I am going to use those this weekend. They have reverse camber tip and tail that I find useless on the piste so hopefully there is a ton of snow to make use of their ability to float.

backcountry skis

My backcountry skis for this trip

I will also dispense with a lot of the other gear I usually carry up the mountain. In my backcountry pack I carry things useful if we get caught and have to spend the night out of doors. Things like a silver blanket, matches and candles, a sweater, a bivy sack, and extra power bars. These will all remain at home. I will however carry my probe and shovel, if there is a snow slide and I am fortunate enough to be on the topside I will feel useless if I cannot help to extricate someone that has been covered.

Off I go.

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