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Catskiing FAQs

What level of skier or boarder do I need to be?

Retallack caters to strong skiers and boarders who are in good physical condition. Backcountry powder skiing and boarding does not require perfect style and technique, but it does demand manoeuvrability in deep and challenging conditions. You’ll also need to be physically fit, as finding a lost ski or recovering from a fall can be exhausting. Most of our runs have steep sections that meet or exceed “black diamond” runs at international ski resorts.

What sort of skis / boards should I bring?

We strongly recommend that skiers use wide or fat powders skis, as they help you to float and turn in deep, light powder. You’ll also need to bring your ski boots. Don’t forget to pack them in your hand luggage, just in case your checked baggage gets delayed or goes missing.

Boarders should use a special backcountry board, preferably with step-in bindings and your stance set as far back as it can go. Again, you’ll need to bring your own snowboard boots and bindings.

Can I rent skis or snowboards from Retallack?

If you don’t own wide or fat powder skis/snowboards, there’s no need to worry. Retallack offers guests a full range of the latest Armada powder skis and a limited number of snowboards for rent on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests can rent skis, poles, or snowboards at Retallack Lodge. It’s important to note that we don’t rent out ski or snowboard boots, so you’ll need to bring your own. Please request your equipment when you book your trip, as sizes and quantities are limited. If you are travelling by air, we highly recommend that you “carry-on” your boots instead of check them in just in case the airline gremlins like your boot size.

How long should I stay?

This really depends on your level of physical fitness and budget, but the majority of our guests stay for a minimum of three days. Retallack offers cat-skiing and boarding packages from anywhere between two and five days’ duration, but you can always stay for longer if you’d like!

What do you do on bad weather days?

It’s very rare that bad weather will prevent you from skiing or boarding, thanks to our outstanding location. Retallack receives typically between 7 and 13 metres (25 and 40 feet) of snow each year. Temperatures are colder than Canada’s west coast, with daytime highs remaining below 0ºC (32ºF), on northern aspects, into late spring, and milder than the Canadian Rockies to the east, with night-time lows seldom dropping below -20ºC (-4ºF). This means that we can almost guarantee continual powder skiing or boarding throughout the season, with standards ranging from very good to excellent.

However, if you don’t feel like skiing or boarding there are plenty of things to do in and around Retallack. Some of the nearby towns – such as artsy, laid-back Nelson, history-rich New Denver or up-and-coming Kaslo – are well worth a visit. Or you can take a long, relaxing soak at Ainsworth Hot Springs, visit local scenic spots such as Kootenay Lake, go snow-shoeing among our 800 year-old cedars, or just chill out at the lodge.

How do I get there?

Retallack guests have a range of options. The nearest major Canadian cities are Calgary, Alberta, to the east and Vancouver, British Columbia, to the west. Driving to Retallack on winter highways from these destinations will take you approximately eight and 10 hours respectively. If you are travelling from the US you may want to consider Spokane, Washington, which is about a five-hour drive from Retallack in winter conditions. Alternatively, you may choose to fly into a regional airport such as Castlegar (approximately two hours’ drive during winter), Trail (about a two and a half hour drive), or Kelowna (about a five hour drive). Check out our location map or our how to get here page for detailed instructions on how to find us, driving on winter highways, crossing the US/Canadian Border and chartering a private vehicle to take you to and from the airport.

What should I bring?

Unlike many other cat-skiing and boarding operations, Retallack is accessible by car on well-maintained highways – so you don’t have to worry about baggage limitations on helicopter flights, snowmobiles, or other vehicles. For detailed information on what to bring – and what not to bring – please see our winter packing checklist.

Can I bring alcohol?

Unfortunately, no. By law all alcohol on the premises must be purchased under our liquor license. However, we have a well-stocked cellar of excellent wines and serve a full selection of beers and spirits. And if you have any special requests – such as a specific bottle or wine or liquor – we are happy to accommodate wherever we can.

What communications are available at Retallack?

Retallack Lodge is equipped with wireless internet access throughout, so you can bring your laptop if you need to contact family, friends or business colleagues during your stay. We also have a satellite telephone that you can use if you need to make an urgent call. Alternatively, the nearby townships of Kaslo and New Denver have mobile phone reception.

Do I need insurance?

We strongly recommend trip cancellation, trip interruption and / or emergency evacuation insurance. We also encourage you to purchase travel or accident insurance. Your insurance broker can advise you about other types of insurance you may require, such as disability and life insurance.

Retallack is pleased to recommend a trip interruption, cancellation, and rescue insurance. Please note that insurance must be purchased when you make the deposit payment for your trip. You can access the online insurance application here.

Please note that no insurance provider currently provides an insurance policy that covers inclement weather during your catskiing or boarding trip. Retallack reserves the right to cancel at any time without notice. Under no circumstances is Retallack responsible for the guest’s inconvenience or travel expenses in this situation.