How to Have a Once-in-a-lifetime Skiing Adventure in Canada
Canada is widely known as the birthplace of snowcat and helicopter skiing. With the ranks of high peaks in interior British Columbia, legendary consistent powder, and massive amounts of snowfall, it’s easy to see why this region is so celebrated.
It also means it can get busy during winter, so now is the time to start planning for a cat- or heli-skiing adventure complete with deep snow, cozy lodges, five-star food, and renowned B.C. wine. It can get a bit overwhelming to research a trip with all the options in Canada these days, so we’ve made it easy for ski enthusiasts to choose by profiling the top operations for multi-day cat and heli skiing in this zone known for some of the best skiing on earth.
Why Mica: This operation is known for luxury small-group skiing in a spectacular alpine environment. Mica prides itself on experienced guides and savvy staff who are adept at creating a one-of-a-kind boutique heli-ski experience.
The Lodge: Imagine flying into the middle of the most stunning mountain landscape you’ve ever seen and landing at a five-star lodge perched on a cliff above the Columbia River. That’s Mica. The modern-crafted lodge hosts only 20 guests max, and boasts two rooftop hot tubs, a luxe bar, fireplace lounge, and rotating art on the walls. The dining room’s row of picture windows provides for jaw-dropping sunsets on the river and surrounding peaks, best enjoyed over Mica’s signature innovative gourmet meals.
The Terrain: Mica’s remote location gives it unparalleled terrain options in B.C.’s famous Selkirk Mountains — 500 square miles of it, to be exact. From pillow lines and gladed tree skiing to glaciers and steep alpine lines, Mica’s terrain is widely praised as a skier/snowboarder paradise. Expect anywhere from 14-18 runs per day — or as many as your legs can handle. Your guides are happy to bring some guests back to the lodge early if others are still hankering for face shots.
Get There: Fly into Kelowna, the closest airport to Mica’s headquarters in the powder mecca of Revelstoke. From there, luxury transportation is provided up the old highway on Lake Revelstoke to Mica Dam (a breathtaking journey in itself) where your helicopter meets you for transport across the Columbia.
Why Bugaboos: Founded 50 years ago, CMH is Canada’s original heli-ski operation. Now with lodges all over B.C., the magic started right here in the iconic spires of the Bugaboos. The beauty of this operation is that it also caters to non-skiers with activities like fat biking, snow shoeing, or cross-country skiing around the lodge — which means you don’t have to abandon your non-skiing partners, family, or friends for this dream vacation.
The Lodge: The lodge accommodates 44 guests, but retains a cozy log cabin feel. CMH Bugaboos is set in a sublime location looking out at the spectacular Bugaboo spires that have left mountaineers in awe for over a century — and you can see them right from the rooftop hot tub. A steam room, sauna, four-story climbing wall, and game room complete the lodge amenities designed to keep all types of guests happy.
The Terrain: CMH Bugaboos’ 235 runs are situated to take full advantage of the jaw-dropping views of unique granite spires and the glaciers spilling off them. Packages include a Powder Intro, Powder Masters, heli-assisted ski touring, and even a family package that caters to kids.
Get There: CMH Bugaboos is one of the closest heliski lodges from the Calgary airport, making it an easy adventure to access.
Why Mustang: Mustang Powder is all about the skiing. It prides itself on catering to strong skiers and snowboarders, and maximizes runs, powder, and vertical. It’s located in B.C.’s Monashee Mountains, which are legendary for receiving more snowfall than any surrounding mountain ranges.
The Lodge: A beautiful timber frame lodge with epic views out the dining room windows, Mustang is upscale while remaining warm and inviting. It’s known for its incredible selection of upwards of 120 different B.C. wines, complete with a wine pairing with a five-course meal on your last night — a perfect companion to the already-impressive culinary experience that Mustang prides itself on.
The Terrain: If you like chutes, steeps, interesting lines, and lots of powder, take advantage of Mustang’s unique Small Groups, Steep Chutes program, with a limit of six strong skiers per cat. Even its regular cat ski program promises 18,000-20,000 vertical feet of skiing per day. With a massive amount of terrain, much of it north-facing for optimal powder retention, Mustang guides very rarely ask guests to “farm snow” by keeping tracks tight – rather, they encourage skiers to take advantage of as much fresh powder as they can handle.
Get There: Mustang’s staging area is located right on the Trans-Canada highway just east of Sicamous, an easy drive from the Kelowna airport.
Why Selkirk: Selkirk Snowcats was the first cat ski operation in the world, which means that it comes with a special chunk of history. It also uniquely offers 5 day/6 night packages, which means that rather than being transported out immediately after a full day of skiing, guests can apres and relax on their last day and be transported out the following morning on a relaxed schedule.
The Lodge: Selkirk has cultivated a warm family feel with its lodge and staff. The newly-renovated guest wing accommodates 24 guests max, adding to the intimate atmosphere. Amenities include a covered hot tub, sauna, quiet room for reading, and floor-to-ceiling windows perfectly situated to watch alpine glow on the peaks at sunset.
The Terrain: The advantage of being the first catski operation in existence meant the pick of world-class terrain. With alpine bowls, well-gladed trees, and steep chutes, Selkirk offers options for all types of skiers and snowboarders. Selkirk guides excel at making guests feel comfortable while providing as challenging an experience as you’re ready for.
Get There: Selkirk Snowcats is located in the heart of the Kootenays, a region of interior B.C. with a distinct culture of art, music, relaxed time, and occasionally quirky locals. The closest airports are Kelowna or Cranbrook, and the closest big town is Nelson — also worth a stopover for its colorful culture and the skiing at Whitewater Resort.