Trip Report: Montana and Idaho – Cat Skiing in the Northern Rockies

Brent Thomas | | Trip ReportTrip Report
snow lake
One of my favorite shots from the trip. Credit: SnowBrains

Trip Report from February 7-12, 2023

Whenever you book a cat skiing trip you hope and pray that the conditions will align perfectly. 

I couldn’t have asked for anything better.


On Monday, February 6, we drove the 10 hours from home in Oregon to Whitefish, MT, and settled in. 

I wasn’t cat skiing until Wednesday, so the next morning I went to Whitefish Mountain Resort late in the morning for some warm-up turns. It started snowing while I was there, and the conditions kept getting better. I knew the next day was shaping up well.

The following morning, we met our guides at Great Northern Powder Guides and loaded the cat. 

Loading the cat at Great Northern Powder Guides with the snow still coming down. Credit: SnowBrains

At the top of our first run the lead guide measured 20 centimeters of new snow – perfect! 

top of run
Ready to go down. Credit: SnowBrains

We were on the “Steep and Deep” tour, and it lived up to its name. We skied steep tree runs as well as open glades and bowls. The powder was deep and quality. It snowed off and on the whole day.

cat ski
One of the first runs. Credit: SnowBrains
Stoked waiting for the cat after a run. Credit: SnowBrains

On the day’s last run, we party skied down a mellow slope as the sun was peeking through the clouds. 

last run
The sun setting through the clouds on the last run. Credit: SnowBrains
They had a beer fridge parked at the bottom of the last pickup. Credit: SnowBrains

The following day we headed back to Whitefish Resort for groomers and leftover pow stashes. 

You could see Glacier National Park. Credit: SnowBrains

It was absolutely beautiful with excellent snow and visibility. 

snow ghosts
Snow ghosts at Whitefish. Credit: SnowBrains


From there we traveled west to Sandpoint, ID, for our next adventure with Selkirk Powder, where we had two days of cat skiing booked. 

Selkirk still had plenty of powder from the same storm that hit Whitefish and it skied excellently. The sun came out and we skied quick laps in boot-deep powder. The views were fantastic.

selkirk powder
Our cat at Selkirk Powder on the first day. Credit: SnowBrains

For day two we headed to more north-facing terrain as the previous day’s sun had baked the more south-facing slopes.

This was the best skiing of the trip as we had long, nicely spaced tree runs through deep, light powder. The area was at the far end of their tenure, which meant it took about an hour to do each lap with the cat ride up, ski down, wait for the cat, and ride up again. But it was so worth it. 

lake cat skiing
Lake Pend Oreille in the background as our cat leaves to pick us up. Credit: SnowBrains

We had plans to ski Schweitzer Mountain Resort the next day but called an audible as they had no new snow, and back home the Pacific Northwest was supposed to get slammed with up to two feet of powder. 

Plus, we didn’t want to get attacked by coyotes. 

So, we did a powder chase back home to hit Mt Hood the next day. It was the right call as we were rewarded with 17 inches of new snow and sunny skies.

Ski trips are always fun, but they are even better when you get good snow.

bluebird powder
A bluebird powder day at Mt Hood Meadows on Valentine’s Day. 17 inches of new snow and 13 degrees. Credit: SnowBrains

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