Shredding the Gnar! (I Think That Means Powder)
While I may not be up on my snowboarding lingo, I do know that I love riding great snow. If you do too (and really, who doesn't?) then look no futher than the Powder Stagecoach at Castle Mountain. Every year I've had the pleasure of taking part in a day of cat skiing / riding, it's always been one of, if not the best day I get in that year and this was no exception. This trip actually showed me just how great a day on the mountain can be even with no real new snow. I was out on a Wednesday and they hadn't had any new snow since the Thursday prior. As you may know, it gets a bit windy in the Pincher Creek are and the locals at Castle say the winds are their best friend and worst enemy. It might suck a little dealing with a few gusts at the top but that same wind repaired all the tracks from two previous tours the weekend before and we had nothing but fresh lines in knee deep powder all day. And if you're worried about safety, don't be. The guides are all trained in avalanche rescue and they run you through your own training before you hit the slopes with all the provided safety gear you need.
Another bonus about the Powder Stagecoach is that it's resort based which isn't the norm as well as being lift assisted. The resort part it nice because it gives you the option of maybe taking a run off in the warmth and grabbing a beer if ya need. The lift assist is great because it cuts down on the cost of operating which saves you a lot of dough. It's almost half the price of compareable cat skiing operations. Having all the runs at Castle at your disposal is a great feature to so no matter what your skill level, you'll find a run that suits you and all of your friends and family. There's even the T-Bar with all kinds of food and drinks for those in your group that might not ski or ride at all and just want to come along for the ride.
The hill is relatively close, just over 2 hours from South Calgary, but if you're looking to make it a multi-day trip they have some great accommodation right on the hill. Everything from hostels to hotel rooms to full cabins, they'll have something for ya.
And last but not least is the staff. You won't meet a better group of people that genuinely love to ride and the love the hill that they do it on. It's funny listening to them talk up their mountain. They'll be chatting up a particular feature of the hill and then follow it up with '...but shhhh, don't tell anyone' trying to keep this great place a secret for themselves. A big thank you to Andrew, Daryl (who runs the Powder Stagecoach and is pictured with his rescue dogs on the chairlift), Priscilla, Maria and everyone else who made our day such a wicked one.
You can find more information on Castle Mountain, The Powder Stagecoach and on hill accomodation here:
Have a kick ass winter!