BY EMILY STIFLER | PHOTOS COURTESY OF BALDFACE LODGE
After two trips to Baldface Lodge, outside of Nelson,
British Columbia, I’m convinced: pile 500 inches
of the white fluffy stuff on 32,000 acres of kick ass
terrain, and it’s a recipe for out-of-this-world skiing.
Backing me up are the folks at Powder Magazine, who
ran a 2011 feature story describing Baldface as, “the
core of B.C.’s finest cat skiing.”
In 1999, ex-pat snowboarder, Jeff Pensiero, began
building his vision for the best cat skiing operation in
the world into a reality.
He started with consultation from snow safety
legend John Buffery and
Mark Fawcett and the
late Craig Kelly, and has
continued hiring strong,
smart, safe and witty
guides to take care of the 36 guests that cycle through
the lodge twice a week from mid December to early
This January I drove eight hours from Bozeman to
Nelson, British Columbia with a group of co-workers
and friends. We spent our fi rst day in Canada skiing at Whitewater Resort outside of Nelson. That
afternoon, we rode in an A-Star helicopter and a snow
cat up to Baldface Lodge, an elegant spread of timberframed buildings near a ridge top, overlooking mountains. In the lodge, I warmed up by the woodstove
before a delicious salmon dinner.
The day after we arrived, we sluiced fresh tracks
through heavy, creamy snow and fog. Lap after lap,
the cat grinded to a stop, and Alex, our cat driver,
climbed out of the cab cool as a cucumber, unhitched
the door from the outside, then unloaded our skis for
us. That night as the storm petered out, the temps
dropped, as did a few more centimeters of snow. Day
two cleared a bit. The runs blurred together as Courtney and I whooped at each other between glades, and
I chased Eric down an epic tree alley called Nebulizer.
By the end of the day, my legs were getting sore. At
3:45, hot soup awaited at the lodge.
As an ex ski patroller, the time I spent talking
with the guides at Baldface was valuable for me.
They were a depth of knowledge and experience
and were willing to share their thoughts. Joel McBurney, our guide, loved to crack off-color jokes.
On the third evening, I took a sauna, stretched
and hooked up to our chalet’s wireless connection. Back in the lodge, I was surprised to find
eight women lined up on the bar, dancing their
tails off before dinner. A
day’s powder skiing does
a body good.
Day three dawned clear.
Before breakfast, trees
glowed, bent over with
snow. Our cat headed to
Krustofskis, and pulled
off three brilliant pow laps under sunshine and
blue skies. When we rolled back to Cherry Tops,
Baldface’s high point, we saw views of the stunning granite in the Valhalla Range.
Day four, the 30 cm of light new snow took me
by surprise. I floated downhill, flying several
feet above the ground and watching a river of
sluff in my periphery. Our group was tired and
relaxed, and we spent the day in that mix of wild
excitement and absolute calm created by true powder skiing.
INTERESTED IN CAT SKIING IN
Contact Baldface Cat Skiing
Season: Mid December through Early April