So I went back country snowboarding via snowcat with my family this past week for the first time and let me tell you it was even cooler than I thought it would be! We did the full day trip through Park City Powder Cats in Park City, Utah which was incredible. With over 43,000 acres in the Thousand Peaks Ranch, there was so much untouched pow to shred in the Uinta Mountains! 🙂
For all of my skiers and snowboarders out there, just make sure you are at least an intermediate skier or snowboarder to really enjoy this trip so if you aren’t there yet just take a few mountain trips with some lessons and work your way up! Now more importantly, why is this something that you should add to your list of adventure activities?! Well, on top of the incredible views and enjoying time in nature, here are 6 reasons why back country snowcat powder skiing / snowboarding is so sick and you need to try it!
1) It feels like you’re floating through the snow!
There is honestly nothing else like it. You are so immersed in the creamy powder that you aren’t even really on your edges so much as you are carving and linking your turns as you glide through the snow. This is the hardest one to describe so I’m going to encourage you to GO AND DO IT!!! It’s completely different from snowboarding at a typical ski resort. Rather than edging hard while you skate over corduroy groomers, you are flying through soft untouched powder. Carving your own pathway down the side of a mountain in untouched snow, you go one at a time so the entire mountain is yours to shred. The snow is dense enough to keep you from rocketing too fast down the steep terrain so you don’t feel out of control but light enough that you can still pick up a lot of speed.
2) It’s just the right amount of adrenaline rush!
It’s enough to get your nerves going a little the first time the snow cat gets to a crazy extreme incline as you climb up the mountain. Thoughts run through your mind like, holy crap, if we’re going this high up in the snowcat, we’re going to have to ride back down… Then, you step off the snowcat at the top of the mountain for the first run, grab your board and walk over to the edge to strap in. When you try to peer over the side of the mountain and realize you can barely see the run, it scares you shitless. The entire first run you are so nervous its almost a blur. But your adrenaline really kicks in and as soon as you start gliding down the mountain, you’re on such a natural high! By the second run you’re only a little bit nervous. Each run, the nerves slightly subside and your natural high increases. By the third run, you’re so comfortable knowing that you already crushed it twice, you just rock it and truly enjoy the feeling of the untouched powder.
3) Falling / wiping out has never been less painful!
It really doesn’t hurt at all because you’re falling into pillowy deep snow. There is so much powder that you could legit eat it so hard that you get snow all up in your pants and jacket and you’re still totally fine. The first fall was almost welcome because it removed the rest of the fear I had. It proved to me that the worst thing that could happen would be to fall and have to use a lot of arm and ab muscles to push myself back up in the deep powder. Knowing that wiping out didn’t even hurt, really made the experience even better. I felt invincible!
4) It’s super safe, and yes safety is cool!
It is much safer than it sounds anyway and being afraid that back country snowcat riding is unsafe is often something that holds people back from trying it. Of course I can’t promise you won’t hurt yourself if you have legit no clue what you’re doing and/or do something completely insane… but generally it is very safe. Mostly because the biggest concern would be avalanche issues, scary I know, but if you go with a legit company like Park City Powder Cats they’re extremely serious about safety. They do all sorts of checks behind the scenes before you even get out there to make sure there isn’t a risk of an avalanche while you’re on the mountain. On top of that, you have two guides with your crew, one to lead and one to close out the end of the group. Your lead always goes first and often will traverse the mountain to be 100% certain there is no risk of avalanche on the run that you are about to take.
5) There is such a sense of camaraderie and teamwork!
Since you watch everyone go one by one you are happy and excited as you live through each of their runs with them too. Everyone is just so supportive, cheering each other on, telling each other how sick their line was and what a great job they did. Having your family and loved ones cheer you on is amazing, especially when they’re calling out, “SEND IT!” But what’s even crazier is to have virtual strangers cheering for you, complementing your style and just truly being happy for you too! It’s really awesome because you’re having this amazing experience together so it bonds you pretty quickly.
6) It makes you feel like you can take on anything.
After riding down the mountain the first time, when you look up and see your beautiful squiggly line from the very top, you are in awe that you actually did that. You made it all the way down on your own and enjoyed doing it! It really gives you this confidence and the feeling like, I am freaking awesome! You feel so proud of yourself for taking on something so massive and scary and just charging it to the point where you do 9 runs in one day. The way you cheer yourself on with positive, self-love thoughts is incredible. The confidence boost, pride and belief in yourself through doing something so fun and healthy is truly powerful.