Here is a brief rundown of common questions asked by past clients. If you don’t see your question listed or still need clarification, please contact us via email or by phone at 650.400.4294.
How good of a skier or snowboarder do I need to be to go snowcat skiing or snowboarding?
Skiers and snowboarders need to be at least high intermediates able to link turns in all conditions and should 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 of twelve people will insure a like-minded experience as our guides have endless options to choose from each day. With a group of mixed ability the option always exists to split the group because we operate with two guides per snowcat.
How many runs does an average group get in a day? How many vertical feet?
Most groups average between 8 and 12 runs during a full day. The average run at PCS is around 1,200 vertical feet with some run options as long as 1,500 feet. This tends to equate to somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000 vertical feet over the course of a day.
Do I need fat skis or an extra-wide snowboard? Are there any other special gear requirements I should know about?
Powder skis and wide snowboards definitely offer a leg up and help conserve energy throughout a day of logging vertical. Although there are lots of options out there, one thing seems to ring true: “Once you go fat, you never go back.” As for other gear needs, simply show up dressed as you would to ski or snowboard at your favorite resort. It’s always a good idea to dress in layers as weather regularly fluctuates throughout the day.
Is it customary to give the guide and driver a gratuity?
Yes. Although the guides and drivers working at PCS love their jobs, they also greatly appreciate the generosity of clients who reward a job well done. As for the appropriate amount, it is difficult to put a dollar figure on an epic, safe adventure in the backcountry. Perhaps just keep in mind that the person that brings water to your dinner table expects 18-20%.
How dangerous is backcountry snowcat skiing or snowboarding?
As with any outdoor adventure, there are inherent risks involved in our sport. However, given PCS’s more than 16 years of experience in the industry, you can feel secure knowing you are surrounded by the best guides and drivers in the business. Every precaution is taken to insure the safety of the guests, guides, and driver. This may include cancelling 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?
When we are running more than one snowcat, we do our best to group guests with similar ability levels. To accommodate variation within a snowcat group, the tail guide will do his or her 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.
If you are concerned about holding up the group—or others holding you up—consider renting an entire snowcat for your own private party (12 maximum). When you’re familiar with the ability of everyone in the group, you won’t worry about the pace and you can focus on the pow!