Often viewed as the “poor person’s” heliboarding, catboarding has seen a rapid surge in popularity over the past decade. The goals of riders who go catboarding are pretty much the same as heliboarding; that is to ride untracked powder without hordes of other people around!
However, there are several differences between the two, with each having their own advantages and disadvantages. Probably the major reason that someone would chose catboarding over heliboarding is the cost. Snowcats are much cheaper to run than helicopters. The other major advantage of catboarding is that it isn’t nearly as weather dependent as heliboarding. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of riders waiting 2 weeks in places like Valdez, Alaska for the weather to clear to go heliboarding, whereas those riders who chose to go with a catboarding company usually get some runs in since the areas that catboarding companies operate in usually have large sections of below treeline terrain which provides protection from the elements.
Most of the time you will get more runs in when you go catboarding, however the runs are shorter than the average heliboarding runs.
Even though catboarding has seen a huge increase in new operations starting up, these have been mainly restricted to Canada and the US. The Great White North has the vast majority of catboarding operators, most of whom are located in the powder haven of British Columbia. Quite a few base their offices out of a ski resort, so when you are sick of riding the groomers consider spending a day catboarding!
REST OF THE WORLD
There are just a few places around the world that offer some form of catboarding. In New Zealand there is Mt Potts which offers both heliboarding and catboarding. With the weak NZ dollar it is very affordable. Another operation in the Northern Hemisphere ‘summertime’ is Ski Arpa located in the Chilean Andes. Compared to most other operators around the world, prices are extremely reasonable, especially with +1,000m descents on the menu and amazing views of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. There doesn’t seem to be any operators in Europe, except for a small company operating in Kitzbuhel, Austria.
So if you are even thinking about going catboarding, JUST DO IT!!! We promise you, you will not regret it!