• Overall Rating
Big Red Cats4.6 out of 5 based on 20 reviews
Wagner Custom Skis
 
Big Red Cats - located near Read Mountain, Rossland BC Canada
Big Red Cats - located near Read Mountain, Rossland BC Canada
Big Red Cats runs 5 snowcats enabling them to split groups by ability
Big Red Cats runs 5 snowcats enabling them to split groups by ability
Big Red Cats has some nice steep alpine terrain
Big Red Cats has some nice steep alpine terrain
The powder at Big Red Cats can be light and dry
The powder at Big Red Cats can be light and dry
Kieren Gaul is the founder and owner operator of Big Red Cats with his wife Paula Gaul
Kieren Gaul is the founder and owner operator of Big Red Cats with his wife Paula Gaul
There is lots of this type of terrain at Big Red Cats
There is lots of this type of terrain at Big Red Cats
There is also some nicely gladed tree areas at Big Red Cats
There is also some nicely gladed tree areas at Big Red Cats
Spectacular sun rise at Big Red Cats
Spectacular sun rise at Big Red Cats
Big Red Cats have had years to develop their very comfortable and spacious cabs
Big Red Cats have had years to develop their very comfortable and spacious cabs
Big Red Cats also operate a budget-style lodge called "Red Shutter Inn" located in the Red Mountain Village
Big Red Cats also operate a budget-style lodge called

Big Red Cats

Like other cat skiing BC, Big Red Cats offers paradise for powderhounds. Big Red Cat Skiing serves up freshies galore! If you’re planning a ski trip to Red Mountain you should definitely add cat skiing to your itinerary. Or the lure of riding fresh tracks all day should make cat skiing your primary reason to head to Rossland!

With access to eight mountains and over 500 runs on 19,300 acres (7,810 hectares), Big Red Cats has plenty of cat skiing terrain to choose from so you definitely won't get bored! This is the equivalent of having access to 2.3 times the size of Whistler Blackcomb ski resort, and only having to share it with a small group, rather than thousands of other skiers who steal all your fresh lines.

Add to this 5 well decked out snowcats and this makes Big Red Cats one of the largest cat ski operations in the world!

Here is a great little video production by Peak Media that will get the juices flowing.....



Big Red Cat Skiing PackagesBig Red Cats provide the option of one day trips, so if your time and/or budget are limited you don't have to miss out on the joy that is cat skiing. However it is likely that after one day of cat skiing you’ll only want to do more, so there is also the option of several multi-day packages with BRC.

One of the major benefits of packages with Big Red Cats is that you can choose from a range of Red Mountain accommodation that varies from budget to luxurious.

Big Red Cats - Day Cat Skiing DETAILS
GUIDED DAY CAT SKIING
6+ Runs | Various Group Abilities
From price based on 1 day of cat skiing in low season
Base/invoice currency is in CAD ex taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 299
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
If you're heading to Rossland / Red Mountain you can't go past a day with Big Red Cats. You can join a group or bring together up to 11 of your friends to make a private catskiing adventure to remember. Spoil yourself to some untracked Kootenay cold smoke this winter!! More
View inclusions
  • Full day of cat skiing (6 - 16 runs)
  • Use of avalanche safety gear & tuition on how to use it
  • Guiding by qualified guides (max 6:1 ratio)
  • Daily transport to/from Red Mountain to snowcat staging area
  • Lunch, water & snacks during the day
Location: Canada | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Custom Booking Period
Min Days
Price
Availability
Mar 03 - Mar 06, 2017
From 1
Enquire
Sold Out
Mar 07 - Mar 09, 2017
From 1
Enquire
Almost Full
Mar 10 - Mar 10, 2017
From 1
Enquire
Sold Out
Mar 11 - Apr 09, 2017
From 1
Enquire
Almost Full
Jan 01 - Mar 31, 2016
From 1
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Available
Big Red Cats - Multi-Day Packages DETAILS
GUIDED CAT SKIING PACKAGES
3 Nights | 3 Days Snowcat Sking
From price based low season, 3 nights/3 days package, twin/double-share lodging.
Base/invoice currency is in CAD ex taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,049
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
This sample tour includes 3 nights of accommodation at Red Shutter Inn located in the heart of Red Mountain village plus 3 days of awesome cat skiing. There are a variety of accommodation standards to choose and packages from 3 nights / 2 days cat skiing. More
View inclusions
  • 3 nights twin share rustic lodge-style accommodation
  • 3 full days of guided snowcat skiing
  • Use of avalanche safety gear & tuition on how to use it
  • Daily cooked breakfast (Red Shutter Inn Option)
  • Daily transport fro Red Mountain to snowcat staging area
Location: Canada | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Custom Booking Period
Min Days
Price
Availability
Feb 27 - Mar 02, 2017
From 1
Enquire
Almost Full
Mar 03 - Mar 06, 2017
From 1
Enquire
Sold Out
Mar 07 - Mar 09, 2017
From 1
Enquire
Almost Full
Mar 10 - Mar 10, 2017
From 1
Enquire
Sold Out
Mar 11 - Apr 09, 2017
From 1
Enquire
Filling
Jan 01 - Mar 31, 2017
From 2
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Available
1Total Results: 2Total Pages: 1

Where is Big Red Cats Located?

Big Red Cats is based at Red Mountain Resort near Rossland, British Columbia. It is not far from the US border and just 2.5 hours north of Spokane International Airport, from where there are various shuttle services. The closest airport is at Castlegar which is only half an hour away, but flights here have the risk of being cancelled due to low visibility. Castlegar is unaffectionately known as “Cancelgar&rrdquo;. The other option is to fly into Kelowna, which is 3.5 hours away.

Even though BRC is based at Red Mountain the actual terrain utilised is about 15 minutes drive from the ski resort.


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Big Red Cat Ski Terrain

The operation is large and with up to 4 snowcats operating each day, Big Red Cats can provide separate trips that specifically cater to intermediates, advanced riders, experts and also uber-experts (those that love to get cliffed out).

The first person to make a booking for a snowcat trip determines the ability categorization of that cat. Enquire to check for availability by ability type and also to check that you’re the ability level you think you are!

The terrain varies significantly and includes mellow meadows, gentle gladed runs, steep trees, alpine bowls, pillow lines, mushroom tripping, and plenty of other launching pads.

Powderhounds Review

Big Red Cats - Cat Skiing OperationThe big powder hounds have set out a couple of times to review the big red cats. Cat skiing with BRC definitely got our powderhound tails wagging – it was difficult not to have a fun time!

As a guide to the review ratings below, a 5/5 equates to absolutely phenomenal, 4/5 is excellent, whilst 3/5 is still a very good score. You can check out our cat ski ratings to see how Big Red Cats compares to other mechanized backcountry operations.

Pros

  • Big Red cat skiing can cater very well to differing ability levels due to the separate snowcat trips. You can ride the terrain that’s most appropriate for you at a speed that suits you. This is a phenomenal stand-out feature of this operation, because getting stuck with guests of a different proficiency can ruin your day of cat skiing (of course there’s no guarantee that someone won’t embellish their ability level!).
  • Don’t believe any rumours that the terrain is a bit gentle for advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders – it’s not true! There are plenty of “sweaty palm” steeps and treats to huck off.
  • This is a large and slick operation that is tightly and professionally managed.
  • Safety is a priority. The guides are highly experienced and qualified, and in addition to 2-3 guides per group there is an extra snow safety officer on a snowmobile for backup. This guide assists in scoping out appropriate runs, snow testing, and provision of support in the event of any incidents.
  • Multi-day cat skiing packages that include accommodation provide great value for money.
  • The flexibility is fabulous. You can choose a level of accommodation that suits your budget, and decide how much cat skiing versus resort skiing you want to do.

Cons 
  • The area around Rossland typically doesn’t receive as much snowfall as other regions in BC. On the plus side, BRC will be honest about the snow conditions. They won’t BS you that there’s awesome powder when there’s not, and they offer “snow checks” when required.
  • One of the snowcats takes up to 14 guests. Sure this is only 2 more than most snowcat operations, but it seems to make a difference with respect to the likelihood of getting freshies and the speed of the day. Of course the perfect antidote to this is to take up the option for the small group cat skiing!
Powder Snow
The snow quality and quantity at Big Red Cats is very good, but it’s not stupendous like it is with some other BC cat skiing operations. The volume of annual snowfall is below average for BC snowcat skiing, so they tend to get “dump-ettes” and a lower frequency of powder top-ups.

On the plus side, the terrain has a variety of aspects so the guides can generally fossick around if it hasn’t snowed in a while, and there are plenty of trees to protect the snow from the sun. On the downside the top elevation is only 2,200 metres (versus an average of 2,380 metres for BC cat skiing) and they seem to have more wind events and warm temp episodes than some other BC cat skiing further north.
Overall Terrain
The size of the terrain is a little above average for BC cat skiing tenures. The size is generally way more than adequate, but with up to 4 snowcats going out each day, it only becomes a problem if there hasn’t been recent snow. Whilst we always had fresh lines at the top of the run, there were times when further down we had to ski over tracked snow.

The variety of terrain is impressive, both in terms of the type of terrain as well as the degree of challenge it provides. The unique characteristic of providing different snowcat trips for different ability levels is a major advantage. This gives intermediates an opportunity to go cat skiing, whilst experts can definitely go for it without being relegated to mellow slopes or a slow pace. Despite being a day operator where you can’t ski to and from the lodge, expert groups are still able to cover a decent amount of vertical.
Alpine Terrain
The alpine pitches are fairly short before it changes to sub-alpine terrain. Nevertheless Big Red Cats has a decent amount of alpine terrain for a North American cat ski outfit. The alpine terrain is generally steep and littered with lots of treats such as chutes, jumps and other rocky features. Even if the avalanche risk is somewhat high, the shape of the terrain and the presence of various ridges tend to allow access to parts of the alpine areas.
Tree Skiing
BRC has plenty of variety with respect to the tree spacing. Some areas have sparse vegetation where you can let the boards fly, some areas have tight trees to make it adequately challenging, whilst other zones are a happy medium with gladed trees. The pitch also varies significantly.

Strong Intermediate Terrain


Big Red Cats has a decent range of mellow terrain that’s not too heavily wooded that’s perfect for novice powder hounds. The segregated trips by skill level are an absolute super bonus for intermediates. The only downside is that the majority of the trips are allocated to advanced and expert riders with only a handful of intermediate trips per season. This is only the product of who books in first, so intermediates, get in and book your cat skiing nice and early!
Advanced Terrain
There is an abundance of fantastic tree skiing and alpine terrain for advanced riders. It’s absolute ecstasy!
Expert & Extreme Terrain
Because Big Red Cats can cater so well to intermediates, it seems to attract a reputation amongst some cat skiers as having lame terrain. All fool them because this rep is eons away from reality. BRC has an abundance of steep gnarly terrain that will adequately challenge experts. Some short pitches fall into the “holy fxxx” category, and there are chutes and lots of features for air-time. The only downside is that the steeps are over all too soon, and many of the runs mellow out to a flat commute back to the snowcat road.

Once again the ability delineation is fantastic for experts. Sure there’s the chance that some bloke will overestimate his talents, but the chances of being disadvantaged by slow skiers or boarders is pretty slim.

Expert groups are very common. Generally these include a good amount of hucking terrain but cliff jumping isn’t mandatory. Uber-expert groups tend to have a much greater focus on leaping off little cliffs and other features. These uber snowcat trips are generally less frequent, so get in early or pull together your own posse.
Guiding
Big Red Cats have a huge number of guides and they all differ somewhat. They often need to pull in casual guides who aren’t that familiar with the terrain. Conversely some of the old hands know the terrain intimately and all the nooks and crannies. The guides are generally fantastic at picking the right lines dependent upon the conditions of the snow and snowpack.

We had high levels of confidence in the lead guides with regards to safety aspects and provision of clear and concise instructions. A little more PR mingling with the guests would probably have heightened the experience further.
Snowcat
The snowcats are powerful and without heavy arses on them, they purr very quickly up the hill. The cat tracks are also efficiently placed which contributes to a faster uphill commute.

The cabin interior had a few rows of seats so some guests had to sit facing backwards. Other minor shortcomings were a side entrance so you had to get in and out via the tracks, there was no stereo, and it felt a bit sterile. On the plus side, the cabin was bright and airy with great windows to appreciate the amazing views, the snowcat had insulation so we could chitchat to our heart’s content, and there were good storage facilities and gadgets.
Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
As is common with the high profile BC cat skiing operators, the emphasis on safety and avalanche risk minimisation at BRC was very apparent to guests in the field. Having at least one guide out there on a snowmobile testing snowpack stability and the like is really impressive (and the snow pit analysis doesn’t cut into precious skiing time).
Safety Briefing
The non-practical component of the BRC safety briefing used to include a fabulous video that guests watched at base camp. This is no longer the case and guides now utilise the time on the bus out to the staging area to do the safety talk. The briefing lacked the structure that it used to have, but it covered most aspects and is now more interactive. If you’re keen for a video, you can always watch the safety vid on the BRC website.

Once at the staging area we did a quick beacon search session but no probe and shovel practice, which is somewhat typical of a day operator.
Frills
Lunch consisted of nice wraps and rolls. Water, granola bars and the infamous cookies were also provided during the day, but no hot beverages.

Other than having ski rentals, they don’t provide any other frills such as breakfast or morning coffee, an après session with beers, or a photography service. On the plus side, you don’t have to pay for frivolities that you don’t necessarily need.
Value for Money
The rates for day skiing in high season are slightly higher than the average for Canada cat skiing companies, whilst low season prices are a little less than the average. Rental powder skis attract an additional charge, and besides lunch, you don’t get too many other added extras.

Where BRC comes to the fore with respect to value for money is with multi-day packages. Firstly the day skiing is significantly discounted for 3 days or more, and the accommodation rates vary from budget to reasonable. Either way, the accommodation value is much better than what you get with a backcountry cat skiing lodge.

The other bonus is that you don’t have to rent a car to get to BRC, unlike with some cat ski operations that are trickier to get to.

Notes Regarding Review
The review is largely based on our experience, but also on discussions with staff, former guests, and information available on their website. Our review has some limitations as it’s not possible to ski every run and in all possible snow and weather conditions. Every guide is somewhat different and we acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different. The ratings are from our perspective only.

 

More Reasons To Go Snowcat Skiing With Big Red Cats Cat skiing anywhere in BC Canada is pretty good, but Big Red Cats has some elements that make it distinctive.

Big Red Cats is the only BC cat skiing outfit to offer separate trips for different ability levels. This separation allows everyone to ride terrain that appropriately challenges them. Also intermediates need not suffer from performance anxiety and experts won’t be held up by slow pokes.

Of course, another advantage of cat skiing with Big Red Cats is that you can flexibly combine some cat skiing with resort skiing at Red Mountain.

Big Red Cats are a reputable operator, and have a good emphasis on safety and the environment. The cat skiing is good value for money, especially for multi-day packages that include accommodation. They also offer special rates for students and teenagers making it affordable for the whole family to join in on the fun.