Pre-cursor: I was amazed to find nothing on TGR about this cat skiing location, so I thought I would fill people in…
Everyone knows of Whistler. The place is a mecca for skiing and snowboarding during the canadian winter and the last couple of winters (including the Olympics), has added to the stature—it has been fantastic up here! Obviously with a tourism destination such as Whis. come all of the operations in and around the town. It is also obvious that with a town of this nature it will have many positive, and negative attributes—one of the biggest negatives is the shear amount of people and the rush for fresh tracks, while the positive is that there is just so much terrain to ride!
After 8 years snowboarding on Whistler & Blackcomb it has become somewhat difficult to motivate to get up there at times nowadays. Thankfully there are cat skiing operations of amazing quality around the area, of which generally receive more snow than the resort when the white gold flies! This is especially true if you head 1 hr north, just to the other side of Pemberton to the base of the Hurley—a sledding and backckountry skiing haven with so much terrain it's just insane (images and video filmed in the 'Whislter Backcountry' are often in this area and nearby). Up on the top of the Hurley Pass is a cat skiing operation called Backcountry Snowcats and for the last two winters we have saved our money for 2 and 3 day trips to this winter wonderland, rather than purchasing seasons passes for Whistler Blackcomb—perhaps we are crazy, but for us, less is more and quality beats out quantity of days skied.
The terrain at Backcountry Snowcats varies greatly and really has something for everyone, big, open, alpine bowls, steep tree skiing, mellow tree skiing, cliff lines, pillow lines, you name it, you can probably find it here. In fact, on our first trip to Snowcats big mountain snowboarder, Johnavon Moore, was there shooting with Arc'teryx and hit one of the craziest, pillow/cliff lines I have seen hit—just awesome! Our favourite days involved warming up on some big open bowls in the morning, ripping faceshots, slashing lips and popping of things all the way down then moving into the trees and getting on the hunt! Pillows, drops, tight lines into open sections just waiting to have a slash layed into, it's so good! The snow has been amazing on both occasions—light enough on top to flare up at the slightest hint of movement across it's surface and firm enough deeper down to prevent hitting any of the potential boney underlayers. It is confidence inspiring!
The Snowcats location is perfect. Far enough out of Whistler to prevent the ability of day trips, meaning that you have to commit, but once you do it is more than worth it! You really are out in the mountains with nothing but surrounding you, and only you and 12 of your friends (max), or new friends if you didn't fill the cat there for good times!
I really can't say enough how good the place is and highly recommend anyone that are looking into cat skiing consider hitting the Hurley Pass with the clan from Backcountry Snowcats! They have some great videos on their site that help me to relive the great times there and get me itching for more! All the boarders out there should check out this 'Tracking Eero' episode, which a lot of was shot at Snowcats, it's sick! Also take a look at one of my favourites below, really shows the good times!