Brundage Cat Skiing with your Kids

Epic …the word is so overdone these days. But cat skiing at Brundage Idaho is just that.

Picture a private snow cat, your million dollar mountain limousine for the day, delivering you and seven lucky skiers to slope after slope of open snow bowls, gorgeous deep and steep runs amid a scenic national forest. Big fat powder skis are provided so you can float over fresh powder with the least effort. And best of all, you can bring your kids cat skiing – provided they are expert skiers (15+ recommended).

Idaho’s sunrise over the Salmon River Mountains was 8am, as our two guides debriefed us  about snow safety, avalanche peeps and protocol. All the while, the snow cat is rumbling up steep, un-skied terrain. No lifts, no lodges – just you, your ride and your two expert guides.

17,900-acres of the Payette National Forest is accessible with Brundage ski area’s exclusive cat ski operation. This would be our snowy playground for the day, adjacent to the inbound skiing of Brundage ski area.

Our first few runs were about 800 vertical each of fluffy Idaho snow in open bowls funneling to glittery glades that we threaded down to a snow covered lake. Our cat fetched us up promptly, giving us time to rest, snack, and suppress our huge smiles till we climbed in our snow cat to another peak to repeat.

The rumble of the cat during each ascent was in stark contrast to the serene silence when we were left on top of panoramic Granite Mountain 8,478 and stunning Slab Butte 8,225. The sweet sound of a million snow crystals surrendering under skis as we descend in deep billowing snow was occasionally interrupted by the hoot and holler from our ecstatic ski buddies in our tight group.

I can’t describe to you each run (there were 10 all scoring 10), we bounced down beautiful snow soaked backcountry slopes, some steep and deep, others wide open with pitch just perfect for powder shot turns. I didn’t intend to fly off that fluffy knoll but the landing was so soft I swore – in a good way.

The last 1,800 vertical run remains top in my memory, as do the smiling faces of my cat ski friends. My son was beaming (and he witnessed Mom’s big jump).

The camaraderie that developed within our cat was unquantifiable. A desire for trust and a deep love of deep snow proved quick cement (okay bad choice of words in snow country). Our alpine-style tank miles from safety and civilization created inceredible bonds of adventure and adrenaline. First track powder privileges circled politely through our private group.

Idaho’s magnificent mountains are outstanding, and the cat is where its at to ski the pristine powder beyond Brundage’s ski area boundaries.

Only downside to all this upcountry skiing, snowmobilers are also stomping this snowy stash. We hit a few hard snowmobile tracks dissecting our otherwise perfectly fluffy untracked runs. Today’s sophisticated sleds ascend seriously steep terrain. The Idaho Park Service is working to find a compromise between cat skiing and snow-machining, since this clash of winter sports could cause safety issues, never mind the obvious virgin snow wars.

Cat skiing is cool, call it poor man’s heli skiing at  $3500 for a full of day for up to six people, with a catered lunch in a cozy 7,800 mountaintop wood fired yurt. You can sneak a day into your Idaho ski trip without booking a big ticket heli-trip. Also, unlike heli-skiing, you can bring your kids if they are expert skiers (of course you run the risk of spoiling them with an expensive addiction).

Cat skiing in Idaho with fresh snow, new found friends and fantastic scenery – Epic. See our Review of skiing Brundage Mountain Ski Area in Idaho

See our Review of Utah cat skiing at Whisper Ridge near Powder Mountain and Snowbasin too. For a cat ski trip, Monashee Powder Cats in Canada is amazing, remote and worth the trip.