• Overall Rating
Powder Stagecoach4.6 out of 5 based on 3 reviews
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Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing

Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing

Dubbed the Powder Stagecoach, the Castle Mountain cat skiing outfit is located adjacent to the Castle Mountain Ski Resort. It’s very rare for a Canadian cat ski operation to be co-located with a ski resort, and this provides many benefits if you want to mix and match resort and cat skiing, and if members of your group or family aren’t quite ready to go cat skiing. They can lap the groomers at the resort whilst you lap up the powder whilst cat skiing.

This is the best cat skiing in Alberta Canada. Sure there’s only one other Alberta cat skiing outfit called Kpow, but true Ca-pow (Castle powder or Canadian powder) is far superior! With the Powder Stagecoach it’s easy to feel like a powder king or queen in your own castle!

Castle Cat Skiing Terrain

The 800 acres of terrain (324 hectares) sits adjacent to the Huckleberry chair lift which is used each run to provide lift-assisted cat skiing (the snowcat provides transport for the top section) and to keep costs down. The terrain is outside the resort boundaries and is sort of like sidecountry, although it’s somewhat controlled by the patrollers including some avalanche blasting.

The terrain has a mixture of wide bowls, glades, and some chutes, and it caters to a minimum ability level of strong intermediate for skiers and advanced for snowboarders. Some runs provide 2,000 feet of vertical powder bliss, and depending on conditions and the ability of the group, you can expect to cover about 11,000 – 16,000 feet (3,350 – 4,980m) of vert for the day.

The Castle Cat Skiing terrain is blessed with about 10 metres of powder on average per season.

Cat Skiing Alberta Packages

Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing offers single day snowcat skiing trips (see below for details). Group cat skiing where you just buy a seat operates on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, although if you rent out a snowcat or two for your own posse (up to 12 guests per snowcat), you can go snowcat skiing any day of the week (pending availability).

Get on the Powder Stagecoach before you turn into a pumpkin!
Powder Stagecoach - Day Cat Skiing DETAILS
CASTLE MOUNTAIN DAY CAT SKIING
Single-Day Cat Skiing Adventure
From price based on single day of cat skiing per person.
Base/invoice currency is in CAD ex 5% GST.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
From price based on single day of cat skiing per person.
Base/invoice currency is in CAD ex 5% GST.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 319
To be eligible for any advertised specials you must book & pay the required deposit by the last day of the promotion...no exceptions. Conditions apply...please enquire for an accurate quote.
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing offer single day snowcat skiing trips for mixed groups (where you can buy individual seats) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Breakfast, lunch & apres drink included. Prior bookings are essential. More
View inclusions & Add-ons
Inclusions
  • Full day of guided cat skiing (11,000 to 16,000 vert.ft)
  • Use of avalanche safety equipment & safety briefing
  • Hot buffet breakfast, bagged lunch
  • Single lift pass to access snowcat
  • Apres ski drink
Add-ons
  • Powder ski rentals
  • Photos of your cat skiing day
Location: Canada | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
You can request a custom tour for your own private group within the date period shown Custom Booking Period
The number of days for this tour can be customised however must be a minimum as shown below Min Days
Please enquire for a price for your custom tour Price
It is not possible to know the exact availability for custom tours so please enquire here and the operator will let you know of their availability. If the availability is flagged as "Filling", "Almost Full", or "Sold Out", it means that dates are filling up or are fully booked. Availability
Dec 28 - Mar 17, 2018
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Where is Castle Mountain Cat Skiing?

The Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing is located adjacent to Castle Mountain Ski Resort, which is 45km southwest of the town of Pincher Creek, a drive that takes approximately 35-40 minutes. Castle is situated in the southwest corner of Alberta Canada, just east of the Continental Divide and 136km southeast of Fernie BC. Castle is 250km south of Calgary (267km from Calgary International Airport). You’ll need a car to get to Castle.

The Castle Mountain Resort shouldn’t be confused with Castle Mountain in the Banff National Park.


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Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing Review

The Powderhounds were fortunate enough to head to the ball in a powder stagecoach! And what a ball we had! If you’re staying at Castle Mountain, definitely include a day or two of cat skiing. Or if you’re on a road trip of southern BC or the Banff area, consider adding the Powder Stagecoach cat skiing to your itinerary.

For the ratings in this review, Powder Stagecoach was compared to other mechanized backcountry ski operations, however of course Powder Stagecoach is incredibly different to other Canada snowcat outfits (and has some similarities to many USA cat skiing outfits). It is lift-assisted cat skiing whereby half of the ascent utilises a chair lift, and part of the terrain is repetitively skied. So it’s definitely not in the same league as most BC cat skiing, yet it’s also priced accordingly.

Of course even though we think that Powder Stagecoach is a great operation, the cat skiing may not be ideal for everyone. Our review covers different aspects of the operation and hopefully you can determine if the Castle Mountain cat skiing is likely to align with your priorities. As a guide to the 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 Powder Stagecoach fares against other mechanized backcountry operations.

Pros
  • It’s very unique for Canada to have a cat skiing outfit co-located with a ski resort, and Powder Stagecoach and Castle Mountain Resort make a great combo. You can do some riding at the resort and then add on a day or two of snowcat skiing.
  • This is the cheapest cat skiing in Canada. Staying at Castle Mountain is also very affordable.
  • The Castle Powder Stagecoach is ideal if you are new to the backcountry and a first time cat skier or boarder (beware though – once you go cat skiing, you’ll long to do it again and again!) and you’re not sure how you’ll go energy-wise. You can stop and rest in the day lodge for a while if needs be.
  • The terrain is avalanche controlled by the Castle Mountain ski patrol, and in the event of an emergency, the cat skiing outfit would have the full assistance of the ski patrollers and other resort safety procedures.
  • The scenic views from the top are pretty impressive.
  • Whilst some of the high profile Canada cat skiing operations are sold out for the following season by March or April, you can leaving booking your Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing until a little later.
Cons
  • The terrain size is small so you’re unlikely to get fresh tracks on every run and for most of each run. The cat skiing is ideally suited to storm riding.
  • You get a serious case of déjà vu after heading along the egress cat track multiple times to get back to the chair lift.

Powder Snow
The Powder Stagecoach tenure at Castle Mountain receives approximately 9 to 10 metres of snowfall per season. This is very respectable although it is less than the average for Canadian cat skiing operations. The snow tends to fall in small top-ups rather than massive dumps, so the likelihood of riding knee to waist deep powder is not high. Powder Stagecoach also gets regular resets from the wind buff ie wind blown snow.

The slopes are mostly southeast facing, which is ideal for capturing the usual wind buff, but it’s not ideal for snow quality if the wind blows from the other direction or the sun’s out. Much of the terrain is open or has only a smattering of trees, so the snow is not protected from the sun and wind.
Overall Terrain
The small size of the terrain is the main shortcoming. It’s only 800 hectares, which is 73 times smaller than the largest Canadian cat skiing operation and 20 times smaller than the average tenure of Canada cat skiing operations. To further shrink the terrain size at Powder Stagecoach, there are some dense treed areas and rocky cliff zones that aren’t usually skiable.

The small terrain size limited the amount of fresh tracks we scored, and particularly towards the bottom of the runs, we always skied chowder. Due to its proximity to the ski resort and that it’s essentially sidecountry terrain, virgin snow can also be poached by others. The resort is pretty strict about not allowing tourers into the area on some days, but ski tourers are allowed 2 days a week, so if there’s no reset prior to a cat skiing day, some of the freshies may have been taken.

Of course it’s all relative when it comes to fresh tracks (and I’m a tad spoiled). Inside the Castle Mountain ski resort, the fresh tracks are gobbled up pretty quickly, and if you compared it to those busy I-70 Colorado ski resorts, then Powder Stagecoach may comparatively seem like you’re getting fresh powder.

The small terrain size also limited the run variation. We often skied the same slope at the top which was a bit repetitive, but it wasn’t as tedious as the long cat track out at the bottom to return to the chair lift.

Runs were between 2,190 metres and 1,382 metres of elevation, with vertical up to 808 metres, which is quite respectable for a cat skiing operation (although a small portion of the vertical was the cat track). The cat/lift accessed skiing was also reasonably efficient and you could get in a decent amount of vertical each day.
Alpine Terrain
Powder Stagecoach doesn’t have true alpine terrain. The upper part of the runs tended to have wide open areas with smatterings of trees. These areas were really enjoyable and allowed everyone to open ‘er up, but there wasn’t a lot of run variety.
Tree Skiing
The cat skiing terrain didn’t really offer true tree skiing amongst old growth forests that Canadian cat skiing is so famous for. Part way down the runs there were often small Xmas trees, which offered a lot of fun. Further down the hill there were lots of heavily treed areas (that were mostly too tight to ski) interspersed with open areas that were former avalanche paths or cleared by humans (like you’d see at a ski resort).

A disadvantage of the lower terrain was that it funneled everyone into the “piste” run. There wasn’t enough space to allow freshies for all 12 guests, and when a snowboarder in our group went down the run first, there were only freshies for 1 guest!

A nice pro of the lower terrain was that it was nicely pitched in places with some 40 plus degree slopes. It was mellower in other parts, so it provided some nice terrain variety.

Strong Intermediate Terrain


If you had a private group with riders all of strong intermediate ability, then the guides could probably make it work. The lower terrain is generally too steep for intermediate riders and the chowder makes it challenging, so it would be possible but potentially really slow going.

A pro of the operation is that if you’re exhausted after the first three runs, you can head to the resort day lodge for a while to take a breather (but you can’t sit in the snowcat).
Advanced Terrain
The pitch of the terrain, the open zones and the fun mini trees, made the terrain ideal for advanced skiers and snowboarders. If only there was more terrain, it would be amazing!
Expert & Extreme Terrain
The steep pitches were a good plus. Most of the terrain was reasonably feature-less, with not a lot of rocks or cornices for experts to huck off. Similarly there was no particularly technical terrain such as tight chutes or steep tight trees (without being too tight to ride).

There was an incredibly tasty looking area in the terrain that had cliffs and rock features. Unfortunately this gnarly area rarely has enough snow cover so the chances of riding it may be very slim.
Guiding
It’s a small area with mostly open or lightly treed areas, so you’d be unlikely to fall in a tree well or get lost unless you crossed the cat track. This might partly explain the laissez faire and loose nature of the lead guiding. The top areas were sometimes very tracked and considering the lack of instructions, it made it difficult at times for the second rider to figure out where the guide had gone. When the tail guide led the runs it was a great experience and during the cat rides, both of our guides contributed to a fun experience with plenty of tales.

Another limitation of the lead guide was the lack of communication with the lead guide of the other group. There were a couple of times when we got to the top of a slope and our guide was disappointed that the other group had already been there and tracked it out – not sure why he didn’t use his radio to communicate with his colleague to plan run choices to maximise our likelihood of scoring fresh tracks.
Cat
The snowcat powered from the top of the chair lift up the steep track in only 10-15 minutes. One limitation was that two groups were using the same snowcat and the other group was a little slower, so there were times when we had to wait 5-10 minutes for the snowcat to arrive.

The snowcat cabin set-up was very good with steps up the back, all forward facing seats in a nice sociable set-up, and plenty of windows (some that opened). Some hooks for storing clothing would have made the set up ideal.
Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
Whilst not really conveyed to guests whilst out in the field, Castle Mountain puts a lot of effort into cat skiing risk strategies. The terrain is partially avalanche controlled by ski patrol and in the event of an incident, the cat skiing outfit would have the full support of ski patrol (including avalanche dogs) and the ski resort.
Safety Briefing
Everything seemed a bit disorganised during the morning preparations and the safety briefing was no exception. The safety briefing covered a lot of content necessary for a day operator but with the guide’s slow drawl, inefficient way of saying things, and skipping back and forth between topics, it felt like the same information could have been covered in a third of the time. The guide would also refer to something such as the buddy system or a practical demonstration of shovelling and state “I’ll explain that later” but then he didn’t. Conversely the briefing conducted by the cat driver about safety around the snowcat efficiently covered all the required information.
Frills
Without being super luxurious (for which you’d have to pay a pretty penny), the day package offered some good frills. Breakfast was more than adequate and lunch consisted of a simple pack lunch with a roll, muesli bar, cookies and water. At the end of the day the après ski session was great, and it was nice to be provided with a beer.

The photography service was probably a highlight of the frills. The photographer came out for most of the day, acted like an extra guide, and also took great photos. We watched the slide show during après ski, and the photos were very inexpensive to purchase.

Fat ski/snowboard rentals were not included in the package, but some guests found powder skis really easy to come by at the shop adjacent to the day lodge.
Value for Money
Value is always a tricky one to judge. The cat skiing is certainly very inexpensive relative to other Canadian cat ski operators, but the product is not the same (e.g. lift assisted) and the larger (and more expensive) outfits offer bigger and varied terrain, more vertical, and more freshies. I’d probably prefer to pay a little more to get additional fresh tracks, but it certainly was incredibly fun out with Powder Stagecoach.

Notes Regarding Review The review was 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. You can also look at the readers’ reviews of Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing for other perspectives.

The photos have not been shot using professional riders; they aim to show an example of a real experience.

Reviews

Great Adjunct to Castle Mountain

POWDERHOUNDS.COM
21/05/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month:
    January
Cat skiing terrain to the left Photo credit: Alan Heidel Fun day! A little bit tracked at the top The snowcat had a great set-up
The Powderhounds were fortunate enough to head to the ball in a powder stagecoach! And what a ball we had! If you’re staying at Castle Mountain, definitely include a day or two of cat skiing. Or if you’re on a road trip of southeast British Columbia or the Banff area, consider adding this to your itinerary.

Powder Stagecoach isn’t your typical cat skiing operation, because it’s co-located with a ski resort and it’s only partial snowcat skiing because a chair lift is also used to gain transport up the hill. We’ve rated Powder Stagecoach against other cat skiing outfits around the world, so it may not score as well on some elements, but keep in mind that it’s a different product (and significantly cheaper).

Other pros: staying at Castle Mountain is inexpensive; Castle Mountain is uncrowded, especially on weekdays, so it makes a nice adjunct to the cat skiing; and it’s ideal for first time cat skiers and boarders who aren’t sure whether they’ll have the energy for a full day of cat skiing (you can retreat to the resort day lodge if needs be).

The main con of this operation is that there isn’t a lot of gladed tree skiing and the terrain size is small, so riding virgin snow is far from guaranteed.

You can check out our more detailed review of Powder Stagecoach for more information, and our cat skiing ratings to see how the Castle Mountain cat skiing compares to other operators.

Cheap n deep

Ryan
09/02/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    Canada

Castle Mountain Resort's Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing is simply cheap n deep. I've cat skied at a number of places including Revy, Valhalla, Monashee Powder SnowCats and heli skied at Selkirk Tangiers. All the terrain in these operations are very similar. Cruisy slopes, gladed tree skiing, open bowls up high...all the same stuff.

If you hit Castle on a good day the snow is simply unreal. You'll find that classic cold smoke champagne powder that's absolutely blower. I got pretty lucky on a blue bird pow day and about 30cm fresh.

Worth a visit and cheaper than anyone else.

Love the Powder StageCoach!

Larry Kopstein
06/02/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Home Country
    Canada

A great day from start to finish when you go on the Powder Stagecoach. Starting with coffee and muffins, the briefing then up top for Avy training.

Great terrain, light and fluffy Castle snow and lots of fun. Finish it off with a beer and the photos. Epic!