Take your backcountry touring to higher elevations with our new snowcat assist “Ride And A Guide” program. An early morning snowcat bump takes you deep into the backcountry to access higher elevation touring opportunities. Our guides manage the logistics and take you to terrain you have only dreamed about.
Daily during operating season
Minimum group size of 2
About The Tour
Take your backcountry touring to another level with snowcat-assisted access and guides. We will transport you to the backdoor of the Pacific Crest and manage the hazards and logistics of getting you to terrain you have only dreamed about. Our ski zones are between Palisades Tahoe and Sugar Bowl and offer all aspects and terrain types, from wide-open runs to steep, protected chutes. This tour is designed for all levels of backcountry enthusiasts- from those with a lot of experience to those who are newer to backcountry touring and want to get more experience in bigger terrain. However, you must be comfortable skiing in all types of snow conditions- from deep powder to wet snow to icy crusts. If you have limited touring experience, we request that you put together a private group.
Where to meet | Itinerary
Our 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.
Plan on being ready to go at 6am
Advanced to Expert skiers and split boarders
Know Before You Go
Skiers and split boarders need to have advanced to expert skills, be able to confidently link turns in all conditions, and be comfortable in deep powder. 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.
Be prepared for the weather conditions. Make sure you bring plenty of layers, extra gloves, water (no hydration packs), snacks, and lunch.
Be booted up and ready to go at 6 am. Expect to return by 4 pm. Bring your own avalanche safety gear- beacon, shovel, probe, pack- or rent in nearby Truckee or Tahoe City.
Backcountry touring gear: Includes skis with all terrain bindings for touring and matching skins. You may rent a backpack with safety gear- beacon, shovel, probe for an additional cost. Your guide will let you know if there is other necessary gear for your tour, which may include ski crampons and/or boot crampons, depending on the group's objectives and the snowpack.
- How good of a backcountry skier or snowboarder do I need to be to go ski or snowboard touring with PCS?
- Skiers and snowboarders need to have advanced downhill skills and be able to link turns in all snow conditions, including deep powder, wet snow, crust and ice. 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 ensure a like-minded experience as our guides have endless options to choose from each day. If you are new to backcountry skiing, our guides can help to give you an educational experience, but this is better served with other skiers and riders of similar abilities. Give us a call to discuss your options and to let us know how best to shape your backcountry experience.
- What does a typical day look like? How many runs does an average group get in a day?
- You should be ready to go at the trailhead at 6am. Your guide will make sure everyone has everything they will need for a day of backcountry touring and then give an orientation and safety talk on the approximately 1 hour snowcat ride. The amount of runs and skiing depends on many things including the group’s objectives for the day, the physical conditioning of the overall group and the snow conditions. Expect to be back at the trailhead or your car around 3pm.
- What do I need to bring with me? Are there any other special gear requirements I should know about?
- You will need a backpack with standard avalanche safety gear, which includes a shovel, beacon, and probe. If you don’t have these items, you can rent them in Truckee. Your guide will show you how to use these tools and you will likely practice using them as a group in the field. Please bring a lunch, snacks, plenty of water, sunscreen, a warm hat and a brimmed hat. Other items that we recommend are a lightweight pair of gloves for touring, a non-insulated jacket (a shell that vents) and a lighter weight puffy jacket to layer under your shell. If your hands get cold easily, bring some glove/hand warmers.
- 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 risk, 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. 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?
- Talk to us about any concerns. Your group will be acting as one cohesive unit while on your tour. If you have concerns about your skill or experience level, let us know. It may be best to set up a tour with others of similar abilities to get more experience and confidence in your backcountry skills. Your guide will be making ski terrain decisions based on your group dynamic and skill level.