Planning Your Trip - Valhalla Powdercats - Cat Skiing & Snowcat Boarding, BC, Canada

Planning Your Trip

Thank you for booking your vacation with us at Valhalla Powdercats!

This pre-trip information package is intended to answer any questions you may have and get you ready for one of the most unforgettable skiing and riding experiences of your life.

Where Are The Kootenays?

We are located just north of the US border in a region known as the West Kootenays of British Columbia.  If you like deep, dry powder, steep tree runs and a lack of crowds, you simply have to come here. Situated along the 'Powder Highway', we receive a whopping 40 ft (13 metres) of snow every winter allowing us to provide endless powder adventures all winter long.

At the core of the kootenays are the funky mountain towns of Rossland and Nelson where the common theme is a laid back vibe, good coffee and a short work week - all with the hidden agenda of living large in the mountains.  Each town has its own ski resort, testament to what this area has to offer.

Our Tenure

We operate our ski tenure on 21,000 acres (the size of whistler and Blackcomb combined) in the Valhalla Range of the Selkirk mountains. Our terrain features vast alpine bowls, beautifully spaced trees, and long uninterrupted fall lines where you'll find some of the sweetest powder on the planet.

Be prepared to get hooked for life!

How To Get Here

Due to the abundance of mountains in the Kootenays, getting here can pose its challenges - but it’s worth it. We recommend you take an extra day and come early to avoid feeling pressured by the constraints of winter weather traveling. There are several airports that you can fly into, depending on where you are coming from.

Please note: you will need a vehicle in order to get to our office each day of your trip.

Coming from the States

Most of our American guests fly to Spokane International, WA, rent a 4x4 vehicle at the airport http://spokaneairports.net/rental-cars) and make the 3 ½ hr drive north to Canada. It is the closest and most reliable airport to us. But it does require that you cross the border:

  • Crossing the Border

    Don’t mess with the border cops. They don’t like jokes, they’ll want to see every person’s passport in your vehicle, and they can see your personal history. Marijuana is legal now, but it is illegal to bring any over the border. You can buy it everywhere now locally.

  • Border Denial

    It happens EVERY winter. If you have had a prior conviction of any kind, or a DUI, it is imperative that you deal with it before arriving at the border. Please call us to discuss if this sounds like it could affect you. Valhalla Powdercats is not responsible, nor liable to refund or credit any guest who is denied access at the border.

Border Options

Nelway

3 hours from Spokane
Location: Metaline Falls/Salmo
Hours: open 8:00 a.m. – midnight

Patterson

2 hours from Spokane (if staying in Rossland)
Location: Northport, WA
Hours: open 24 hours a day

Coming from Elsewhere/Canada

Canadian or International guests usually fly to Vancouver or Calgary, rent a car and drive here. The other options is to try to fly via Air Canada to our regional airport, Castlegar, which is only 15 minutes from our base office. Due to frequent stormy winter weather and subsequent flight cancellations, we don’t advise it. If you do choose this method be sure to come at least day early to allow you options. Often warming up at local ski hill is great idea anyway to help abate jet lag etc.

You can also fly via Pacific Coastal Airlines (www.pacific-coastal.com) to Trail, BC, from the South terminal of Vancouver International Airport. This airport is 1 hour drive from our base office, but is more reliable than Castlegar when the weather is stormy (specifically 11% more). From here you would need to arrange a shuttle or rent a car.

Cranbrook and Kelowna are other international airports in BC, but direct flights from Europe do not go there. Each of these locations is 3 – 4 hours away, and require mountain pass driving to get here. But it is an option that some people choose.

Meeting Location

Valhalla base office is located at the ‘Playmor junction’ (aptly named) in an area known as South Slocan, about 20km South of Nelson. We are beside the Kootenay Smokehouse at the corner of HWY 3A and HWY 6 (towards Revelstoke).

Expect a 25 minute drive (22km) from Nelson, or 50 minutes (55km) from Rossland.

Please add more time if it’s snowing.

When You Meet Us

Arrival time is 7:30 am every morning. **Please do not be late. The bus leaves promptly at 8:00am, with or without you.

We open our doors at 7:00am. Feel free to show up early and enjoy a freshly brewed OSO Negro coffee, or juice with a morning snack. If you are staying in town, please plan your breakfast times carefully. Talk to your accommodators so as to be prepared for your early morning departure. If you are staying at the Prestige Convention Centre through us, breakfast is included at 6:30 am every morning.

There is free parking available while you are ski with us.
987 Dogwood Dr. South Slocan, BC V0G 2G0
250-259-7665

Checklist before you get here

  • Have you have signed your online waiver?

  • Have you have filled out your confirmation form?

  • Have you have let us know if you’d like any rental equipment such as ski or an airbag?
  • Is your passport up to date?

What To Bring

  • Passport.
  • Ski/Snowboard boots. - Always bring your ski boots as carry-on items on airplanes. We DO NOT rent boots.
  • Personal medications and toiletries.
  • Fat skis/snowboard/poles - unless you are renting from us.
  • Warm, weather resistant clothes. Layering works best – no cotton. Our average temperature is about - 8C or 25F.
  • Goggles.
  • If you are prone to motion sickness you may want a motion patch, Dramamine or similar.
  • Sunscreen and Sunglasses.
  • You can bring your own back and avy gear, but you will need to use our beacon in the field.

What Not To Bring

  • Your own beacon.
  • Drugs (marijuana and drugs are forbidden on your ski day).
  • Ear buds/headphones. Music is for the cat only.

What We Supply

  • Freshly brewed locally roasted OSO coffee, orange juice, fruit and croissants at our base office.
  • BCA Tracker 2 avalanche beacon and personal backpacks, each containing a probe and a shovel and personal radio. You will be responsible for the return of each - intact - to your guide at the end of each day.
  • Gourmet lunch plus snacks. Our food is nutritious and delicious. Everything is made from scratch including cookies, treats and bars.  We have several vegetarian snacks available each day as well. **Special dietary needs other than a vegetarian diet should be informed a minimum of three weeks in advance. Extra special food needs (gluten-free) may require that you bring your own lunch. 

  • Water bottles and hot drinks.
  • A Rockin good time!

Rental Equipment

If you don’t own powder skis or boards, then you should really consider renting some, as they will make life much easier in deep powder snow!
  • Powder Ski or Snowbaord Rentals $40/day - We have Burton snowboards, and Armada and Rossignol powder Skis
  • Powder Poles – $5 per day
  • BCA Airbag Rentals. These are $40 per day. We have a limited supply so pre-booking is highly advised.

A Typical Ski Day

  • You should arrive fed and ready to go for a big day in the mountains. We have coffee and snacks at the office, but you will want something substantial in your belly to keep you going!
  • Bring your ski gear & boots into the office when you arrive because you’ll be gearing up here for the day. You can leave anything you want at the office while you’re out in the field.
  • If you are renting skis/board or airbag, be sure to be here no later than 7:30. You will need time to sign the associated paperwork/ waivers, and get your gear set up.

  • Sign out your beacon, probe, shovel and radio. Your car keys will go in your beacon box for the day while you shred.
  • The lead guide will give a quick intro talk to the day about how things work, and all gear will be loaded into the bus.

  • Everyone departs at 8:00am sharp in the bus for the Valhalla tenure.
  • Arrive at cats about an hour later, have a quick safety talk about snowcats, load up and head out to the ski terrain.

  • Each person must complete the beacon/avalanche training on day 1 of your trip. If you are here for multiple days - you only have to do this once. In this case, you will get an extra run while new the new folks train and practice.

  • Let the run begin: Eat. Shred. Rest. Repeat!
  • Last run is usually around 3:00 pm. You should be back at the base by 4:30- 5:00pm.
  • This is the time come back to reality, check out the retail gift/souvenir area and rebook your spots for next year!

Accommodation

Accommodation for Valhalla is located at Nelson's Lakeside Prestige Resort and Convention Centre on the waterfront of Kootenay Lake. All trips are based on double occupancy and include a mountain view room. Upgrades to a lake view or single occupancy are available for an extra fee. Each package also includes a $15 food voucher per day for any restaurant in the Prestige - the West Coast Grill, the VAULT Sports Lounge or Le Petit Café. 10% off food in general is also added during each guest’s stay.

The prestige offers luxury sleep pillow top queen beds, 42” plasma TV, refrigerators, coffee maker, and complimentary wireless internet access in each room. The Resort also has an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, and fitness center with Shalimar Health Spa in case you need a massage!

Safety

Safety is our number one priority at Valhalla.

Skiing with a bunch of new people in unknown terrain can be as exhilarating as it is daunting. Our guides have spent years training to take you in the mountains safely, but it requires cooperation on all parts. Our guides strictly follow and exceed snowcat skiing industry standards for safety. All of our guides are ACMG, CAA, or CSGA certified and are wilderness first-aid caregivers. Guests are expected to follow the guides’ directions and act appropriately in the backcountry at all times. Following instructions and skiing or boarding with control are the best ways to prevent an injury or incident. 

We have a comprehensive and impressive training system that our guests constantly affirm is the best they’ve seen anywhere. You will receive safety briefings about snowcat protocols, how to ski in the backcountry and how to use your avalanche rescue equipment. Many people love Valhalla so much they come on multiday trips. You only have to take the training on day 1.

***The use of Drugs and/or Alcohol is strictly prohibited during the ski day and will be the immediate end of your day if consumed on the mountain.  If you appear to be 'under the influence' upon arrival, you may also be asked to sit out.

Insurance

There are a few types of insurance that we recommend.  Please be advised that we do not, under any curcustance, refund money for cancelled or missed trips.  Purchasing insurance is the ONLY way to ensure that your investmet is protected.

Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance

All our trips now include EMERGENCY MEDICAL EVACUATION COVERAGE for acute, sudden and unexpected sickness or injury for visitors and Canadians! The coverage includes ambulance evacuation to a hospital, as well as hospital and physician charges. All claims do require that you be seen by a physician before departing the Canada, and that the doctor signs the appropriate insurance forms in person. If you do not see a local doctor, you will not be covered and may have to pay for an expensive helicopter or hospital bill.

Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance

Please purchase insurance if you think you would want to get your money back in the event of virtually anything happening. What can happen? Missed connections, schedule changes, your own accident or injury, a travel companion or family member becomes ill, natural disasters, or even loss of employment. These events could cause you to cancel your trip or cause a disruption. Generally, Trip Cancellation costs about 5% of your trip cost and its worth the peace of mind. You can now easily book cancellation insurance online. We recommend using Lifestyle Financial .

Cancellation insurance will insure the non-refundable travel costs before you depart. Interruption insurance covers off your lost trip and unexpected out of pocket costs if your trip is interrupted after you start your trip.
Please note: If you have any trouble booking cancellation insurance, give us a call and we will try to assist with the process via the carrier.
Insurance providers do not offer coverage for inclement weather, poor or dangerous terrain and or conditions that prevent skiing or riding. There is no compensation for bad weather, just as there is no surcharge for incredible powder. We will always do our best with what we are given.
Please pay special attention to our Terms and Conditions to better understand what is covered.

Gratuities

People often ask us about gratuities. In Canada, tips are a customary part of this industry and are greatly appreciated by all. If you feel you received exceptional service and your trip made memorable please tip your guides and drivers. They will greatly appreciate it!

Our Partners

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