Tucked in the Canadian Rockies two and half hours south of Calgary is Alberta’s mountain with the largest snowfall in Alberta, Castle Mountain Ski Resort. It also happens to be the closest mountain ski resort to Saskatoon and Regina at just over seven hours away.
This is the second time our family has been to Castle. Each time we come, the warm local vibe and truly community-run resort draws us in. We love that it is less touristy with very little lines but has diverse runs for the whole family. The epic chutes at the top of Tamarack Chair fuel my adventurous soul while the Green and Huckleberry chair offers entertaining runs for our four and six-year-old.
As a family, we are staying at the Castle Ski Lodge hotel that is also located steps from the lifts. It is found in the same building as the hostel but on the top floor. Before arriving, I had reservations that it would be noisy and stuffy. Although it is not a “luxury resort”, our room is quiet, spacious, clean, decorated nicely and the beds are comfortable.
At just over $150 a night, the Castle Ski Lodge hotel is an affordable option for families that want to stay steps away from the ski lift and have the option of using the hostel’s kitchen to cook some meals.
We spent our first day at Castle shredding as a family but my husband Cam and I are spending one whole day without the kids. We are trying out Castle Mountain’s cat skiing operation. Snowboarding was something that connected my husband and me at 19 years old. All I could think about was that this was going to be one epic shred date.
One of the best and most notable bonuses about cat skiing at Castle Mountain is that at $499 it is considerably less expensive than many other cat skiing operations. It also includes a hot breakfast, lunch, and digital copies of the professional photos taken while you’re snowboarding or skiing.
Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Castle Mountain Ski Resort however all views and opinions are my own.
It’s 7:45 am and my husband and I walk into Joe’s Café to meet the cat skiing crew.
I shake hands with our guides, sign the consent form, and then grab a coffee even though I already feel buzzed. Cat skiing has been on my bucket list since I was 14 years old!
After indulging in the hot breakfast, our guides educate us on the area we are going to be snowboarding and then how to use our gear in case there is an avalanche.
I start to worry a little bit and rethink my decision to go cat skiing.
I am pretty sure that before kids I would not have felt this concerned. Thankfully, our confident yet serious guide reassures me that although we are snowboarding in a low-risk area, we will be taking every precaution on the mountain to mitigate risk.
The avalanche brief ends and I walk to the bathroom for one quick break before strapping on my snowboard to head up the Huckleberry Chairlift. The cat skiing operation starts at the top of the lift.
This feature makes cat skiing at Castle Mountain possible for moms that are still breastfeeding.
If you have someone watching your child but are still breastfeeding, or want to check up on them, then you can between runs. Unfortunately, childcare does not open until 9:30 am which would make it tricky to put the kids in childcare while you and your partner cat ski.
As I slide off the Huckleberry chair lift, I notice that the cat ski is waiting for us. I walk to the side of the cat ski and our guide takes us through the avalanche beacons one more time. Although the risk of avalanche is low today, I am thankful that they take these risks seriously.
It is time to head up the mountain and I follow Cam onto the cat ski. I can’t help smiling from ear to ear. I am pumped.
I start reminiscing about the last time we were at Castle Mountain. There was so much snow that every time I turned; powder sprayed my face. This time, Castle Mountain had experienced a few days without snow, so I did not expect to find a lot of powder.
I hop off the cat ski. One by one I watch the skiers and snowboarders drop into the bowl. Then, it is my turn. As I carve down the mountain, I am elated. It feels so good to be here. The snow is not perfect but a mix of powder with some blocky chunks. I keep going and meet up with our group. They start to make their way through the trees.
Our guide is in search of better snow.
I burst out of the trees and a massive smile pops onto my face. As I look down, I see that our guide has found us some white, powdery, fluffy snow to shred even though there has been a week of no snow.
I wait to see who is going first when a skier says, “Hey Annika, you lead us down”. Excitement fills me up but so do the nerves. I was about to have the first tracks on some of the best snow of the day. I did not want to mess it up!
I drop down and let myself go. I surprise myself as I start flying down the mountain carving. Soon, the snow starts spraying all around me. I am lost in the moment and notice I am about to reach a little bump in the snow. I have a decision to make. I reach the snowy bump, let go and allow myself to fly. It is only a little bit of air, but it feels so good.
I love being a mother, but I don’t often have a chance to push myself snowboarding. It looks like for the rest of the day; I will be able to find that part of myself once again.