Backcountry snowcat skiing and boarding in the heart of Lake Tahoe - just you, your crew and our guides! Let us transport you away from the crowds into a world of untracked snow and seamingly unlimited terrain. This is a full day of backcountry skiing or snowboarding on over 3,000 acres of reserved terrain. Includes beacon, professional guides, and a cold brew for the ride back to the trailhead.
Daily during operating season
PRIVATE OPTIONSBook Now
About The TourThis is a full day of guided backcountry skiing or snowboarding that includes safety gear and training. You can expect 7 to 10 runs as we explore our exclusive use terrain of over 3000 acres and our NEW expanded terrain options. On average, our runs are between 1,000 and 1,200 feet in length with a few of our longer laps closer to 1,500 feet. Our terrain includes all the aspects of the compass and is known for our protected, steep north facing terrain. A typical day starts at 8 a.m. with a discussion of safety and proper beacon use that includes familiarization with the snowcat, loading/unloading procedures, rescue scenarios and backcountry protocols. We will typically work ski our way deeper into our backcountry zones and return to the trailhead around 5:30pm. With a Private Snowcat, your group of up to 12 people plus two guides can set a faster pace and fit more runs in the day. This is the perfect way to ensure that you get the most out of your snowcat experience. Ideally, forming your own group will insure a like-minded experience as our guides have endless options to choose from each day. Prepare as you would for a day at the resort and bring your skis/snowboard, extra layers, water, and lunch for the day. On board the snowcat, we’ll have water, small snacks, and a beer for the ride back to the trailhead. You may leave a small bag or pack on the snowcat in between runs.
Where to meet | Itinerary
LOCATIONOur trailhead is located on Cabin Creek Road, off Rt. 89. 5 miles south from downtown Truckee and approximately 7 miles north of the light at Olympic Valley Rd for Palisades Tahoe. Click here for detailed directions. Please note that our parking is limited and our guides will greet you and show you where to park.
START TIMEPlan on being ready to go at 8am
TOUR LENGTHPlan on being back at our trailhead between 5-5:30pm
SKILL LEVELAdvanced to Expert skiers and riders
Know Before You GoSkiers and snowboarders need to have advanced to expert skills, be able to confidently link turns in all conditions, and be comfortable in deep powder. PCS has the entire spectrum of terrain available for all types of skiers and snowboarders from wide, open powder bowls to steep, technical lines. We expect that you will arrive with the skills and attitude to enjoy all of the various snow conditions that can be found outside of the ski resort, which may include deep powder as well as heavier snow or crust. Our guides have an intimate knowledge of the terrain and will seek the best snow quality available on the day, but conditions change continuously, so please be prepared for any conditions. Be aware that if a person is holding the group back significantly they may be asked to skip some runs. The option of taking a rest is also available with a ride down in the snowcat. You do not need previous backcountry experience or special equipment to enjoy your day with Pacific Crest Snowcats. We will provide avalanche beacons and teach you how to use them. Our guides are experienced professionals and will assess the snowpack throughout the day to ensure every client's safety. PCS has a perfect safety record regarding clients and avalanche hazards. Please bring a lunch with you and expect to eat in between runs. This allows us to fit as many runs into the day as possible. We will have water, small snacks, and a cold beer for the hour-long cat ride back to your car at the end of the day.
EQUIPMENTPlease bring your skis/snowboard, poles, and boots. Powder skis and boards are highly recommended. Typically, 105-120mm underfoot for skis will serve you best. For snowboarders, it’s a good idea to have an adjustable ski pole for deep snow and short traverses. We do not provide any ski or snowboard equipment, you can rent equipment nearby in Truckee or Tahoe City.
- How good of a skier or snowboarder do I need to be to go snowcat skiing or snowboarding?
- Skiers and snowboarders need to have advanced skills, link turns in all conditions, and be comfortable in powder. PCS has the entire spectrum of terrain available for all types of skiers and snowboarders from wide, open powder bowls to steep, technical lines. Ideally, forming your own group will insure a like-minded experience as our guides have endless options to choose from each day.
- How many runs does an average group get in a day?
- We typically get 7 to 10 runs in a day, depending on group efficiency and snow conditions. Booking a private group will allow you to maximize your amount of runs.
- Do I need fat skis or an extra-wide snowboard?
- Are there any other special gear requirements I should know about? You are expected to arrive with Modern Powder skis, or snowboards suitable for the wide range of conditions that may exist in the backcountry including Deep Powder, firm snow, crusts, and warm snow. Please bring extra layers and gloves as well as some snacks to keep your adventure fueled up!
- Is it customary to give the guides and snowcat operator a gratuity?
- Yes. Your guides have dedicated themselves to your safety and experience and you are in highly skilled and capable hands as you expand your ski experience. Although the guides and operators working at PCS love their jobs, they also greatly appreciate the generosity of clients who reward a job well done. In service industries, gratuities of 18-20% are considered generous. All tips are shared between guides and snowcat operators.
- How dangerous is backcountry snowcat skiing or snowboarding?
- Backcountry skiing has inherent risks, but by choosing PCS you are choosing guides who have the skills and knowledge of our specific terrain to reduce those risks. You will learn from them as they describe the risks of each area, how to avoid them, and what to do if you cannot avoid them. Every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of the guests, guides, and snowcat operators. This may include canceling the trip due to inclement weather or unstable snowpack concerns. Please understand that these decisions are made for the safety of everyone involved.
- What happens if some skiers/boarders are better than others?
- Our terrain is best suited for advanced to expert skiers and riders. This is so everyone in the group is able to have fun, stay safe, and maximize efficiency. To accommodate any variation within a snowcat group, the tail guide will do their best to find an easier route for those who are challenged. PCS reserves the right to ask less proficient guests to sit out some runs if they consistently delay the group and impact the experience for others.
- Do you ever cancel trips due to weather or snow?
- Unlike ski lifts, the nice thing about snowcats is that they don't get shut down by wind or snow. We can typically run in all sorts of weather and snow conditions. We work hard to maintain our cat roads throughout storms so you can ski fresh, untracked powder.
- Road and highway closures can sometimes shut us down during storms because we cannot get to or out of our trailhead. If any major roads needed to access our trailhead close, we will be in contact with you right away.
- The avalanche danger is high, are you still running?
- Our top priority is keeping our clients and guides safe. Our guides are very skilled and knowledgeable of the terrain and will be assessing the snowpack throughout the day. If there is avalanche danger, we will be skiing terrain that cannot produce an avalanche. We want to make sure everyone is safe and has fun with us. In over 20 years of operating, we have a perfect safety record in regard to clients and avalanche hazards. If there is extreme hazard and our guides deem it unsafe to be out in the backcountry (or anywhere other than inside your home), we will contact you as soon as possible to inform you.