Yes. While we don't have a remote lodge, we do have a 6-bedroom "Big Red Lodge" if you have a group of 12, and most of the guests at the Red Shutter Inn and many at the Ram's Head Inn are catskiers, so there is plenty of opportunity to socialize. Dinners may also be catered in for your group by pre-arrangement, if you don't want to eat out at restaurants every night.
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.
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. 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 able to ski the killing fields of Red's "Cambodia" before considering an Expert tour. If you aren't sure, it is better to underestimate your ability than to over-estimate.
Yes! Our private cat pricing is around 10% off in high season (6000 - or 500/seat), and 5000/day or 4500/day/multi-day (399-417/seat in low season).
12 seats is considered a full cat, but you can squeeze a 13th in the private cat for $399, high or low season
Yes, we have a large fleet of skis, but it's best to book the skis when you book your trip, to request the style and size that you prefer. That way, if a shortage is foreseen, we can make arrangements to get more skis. Ski rental is $39 for a day, including poles. Click for more info
We take your safety, and ours, seriously, and our safety record speaks for itself. BRC has never had a fatality - while it would be hubris to assume that it is all due to skill, we try to reduce the risks as much as possible by having good procedures and a highly qualified team. That said, there is always risk in the back-country because we are dealing with a natural and uncontrolled environment. We think that 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:
- We use only qualifed guides:
Supervising Guides must be ACMG Ski Guides or Canada Ski Guide Level 3 qualified
Lead Guides must be Canada Ski Guide Level 2 qualified or ACMG assistant guides.
Tail Guides - must have at a minimum their CAA 1 and a 40 Hour wilderness first aid, but often have CSGA1 and additional avalanche and first aid qualifications.
- We have a safety and support team out on the mountains almost every day - they are mobile on snowmobiles, doing stability testing and providing rapid extra assistance if required.
- We use our own radio repeater - that gives us constant communications in the whole area. We also have a satellite phone, and cell phone coverage in half of the area.
- We do snow testing and take weather observations every day.
- We are part of Infoex for the CAA - this means that share information with about 100 other operations in Canada every day in relation to avalanche and weather observations
- We have rescue caches in the snowcats and at our base.
- We use what we think are the best transceivers - the Mammut "Pulse"
- Our terrain and cat roads allow us to get to the top of all the mountains that we ski - this is helpful as it means that we do not have large uncontrollable avalanche slopes hanging above us
You'll need to be at the BRC office at the base of Red Mountain ski resort at 0800. It is at 2-4430 Red Mountain Road, in the Red Robs condo building. If you are renting skis, you'll need to arrive ten to fifteen minutes earlier. Even if you have pre-arranged ski rental, you'll have to fill in and sign the ski rental form and waiver.
You'll sign your waivers and you can self-drive or we can take you by bus out to our snowcat staging area.
If you are traveling in from Nelson or points west for the day, you may arrange to meet us directly at the staging area. From the Nancy Greene Junction of highways 3 and 3B, travel 400m south on 3B towards Rossland. Then turn left (east) and go in about 500m to the parking area. If you want to meet here instead, it must be arranged in advance, and you must arrive by 0845.