March 21st, 1pm Friday afternoon I receive an e-mail from Paula Gaul the owner of Big Red Cats in Rossland, British Columbia. “We got 25cms of snow recently, You might want to come up and give it one more shot as the skiing is really good”
A little back-story on this, we had tried several times over the winter to schedule a Freeride Chronicles shoot at BRC but could never get schedule or conditions to cooperate, so when this e-mail came across my desk I immediately took a look at the weather. NOAA was calling for decent cold temps 28 degrees and Bluebird, time to get the band back together! A few phone calls later to seven of my ski buds and a little schedule adjustment on my end we pulled the trigger and decided to get er done. So on 4:30 Sunday morning we left Sandpoint, Idaho and made the 2.5 hour drive to Rossland, British Columbia.
We arrived at the BRC office which sits at the base of Red Mountain Ski resort a little tired and weary. A few of us had just participated in a 24 Hour Ski Event at our local hill and we were running on a half a tank. With paper work all filled out we made the 20 minute drive to the staging area where they keep all 5 snow cats. After a short safety/transceiver talk we loaded up and we were en route for a day of Spring powder skiing with owner and lead guide Kieren Gaul.
A short 30 minute cat ride to the top and we were up in the zone. The first stop was a nice, wide open clear-cut with a decent pitch. Since I was carrying the camera, i had to get down first (at least that’s what I tell them) It didn’t take more than a couple of turns to know we were in for something special on this day. It’s not to often that the stars align and you get Blue skies and light untracked snow. My body felt Recharged and it was now time to get after it.
On this trip we had Trisha Scott with us who was a cat skiing Virgin. With the video camera rolling, I gave the newbie honors of first dibs on this run. Trisha made it look effortless as she ripped the slope hooting and hollering one turn after the next.
The rest of the group picked out lines on either side of me which made for some great variety for filming.
We ventured around to a few different zones of their huge tenure which covers 8 peaks and over 19, 0000 acres of terrain which cater to all levels. In fact BRC is the only snowcat skiing operation in British Columbia to offer separate trips for intermediate, advanced and expert skiers and riders, (and even offer”Uber Expert” by request if your into sending it off cliffs all day).
Kieren brought us to a huge alpine bowl with a steep pitch as the entrance which feathered out into nice 35-40 degree slope the remainder of the way to the cat. Nothing better than getting a little “Pucker Factor” going.
It was 2:45 in the afternoon before we knew it and it was now time to start heading back. We made our way back up to the top, crossing the ridge dropping back down into main basin we came up originally. Kieren yelled “one more lap”. We clicked in and we were on our way down what they call Sunset, a run with nicely spaced trees, plenty of open pockets and little steeps here and there. This run you could just go and go and go with out anything getting in your way or stopping you. The only thing in our way was a big bank of trees at what we thought was the bottom of the run.
After a little poking through the trees we came into another opening which looked like a 10-year-old clear-cut with a nice 25 degree slope running about 1000 meters long . The replanted trees were sticking out of the snow about 5′-6′ and were spaced so you could use them like slalom gates. WOW! what a run to end the day.
Everyone in our group was Blown Away at how fantastic the conditions were for that time of the year. This is my 8th time visiting BRC and every time I visit I come away with an incredible experience, You should experience it to!