Castle Mountain Resort is your #BucketlistAB full mountain experience
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The walls in the day lodge at Castle Mountain Ski Resort are lined with bold photos of skiers and riders pushing through copious amounts of powder on epic terrain. But, those photos need to change with the times. No longer is it just for folks with planks strapped to the feet, yee-hawing through the glades. It’s for snowshoes, fat tire bikes, snow cat tours and yes, some serious fine dining. It’s the full mountain experience.
Don’t get me wrong. Castle is still the place in southwest Alberta to find chutes choked with powder, glades thick with untracked glory and steep fall-lines that shake the bejeebers out of many of us. But the focus needs to broaden.
“This area has so much to offer,” says Cole Fawcett, sales and marketing coordinator for Ski Castle. “We are introducing features, adventures and events to attract the non-skiers, too. Our biggest announcement is the Scenic Snow Cat Tours offered on Saturdays. It’s only been going on a few weeks but already we are seeing positive responses.”
Scenic Snow Cat Tours opens the backcountry to non-skiers
When the Powder Stage Coach is done ferrying skiers and riders to the backcountry on Saturdays, it waits at the top of Huckleberry chair for a dozen patrons to ride up to enjoy the backcountry while the sun begins to set. No skis, no boards, just be dressed for a short winter stroll on one of Mount Haig’s highest ridges.
“It’s a pretty neat experience for the non-skier,” says Fawcett. “Many people who don’t usually experience the snow, come to experience what it’s like to stand on the ridge of a mountain and look out at some pretty impressive landscape. If the sun is setting, it’s got them speechless.”
As the heated snow cat heads for the ridge, a host explains the landscape, the ecosystem and the weather. Near the top, hot chocolate and a snack is offered before the guests step out on the ridge. The view is magnificent. Views of southern Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park, the Crown of the Continent and Montana make for stellar backdrops in photos. When the guests return to the snow cat, they are handed a $10 coupon to enjoy après at the always fun T-bar pub.
The Powder Stagecoach Cat Skiing experience has been enhanced this season. The all-day experience now includes a rib-sticking fueller of a full hot buffet breakfast. Also included in the power package is avalanche safety hear, a lunch – just in case you didn’t eat enough breakfast, a fully guided day of skiing/riding through over 900 acres of private glades and an après ski photo presentation and celebratory brew. It’s an exhausting day only offered Thursday through Saturday to guarantee the freshies.
Last Tracks Snowshoe Tours
If you like to hike through tons of snow, do it a bit easier with snowshoes and a guide. The afternoon tours are offered on Saturdays when you can expect to be out for about two hours or more. The group jumps on Huckleberry Chair to descend through the Ghost Rider Glades (Yup…down hill all the way baby!) Price for the tour depends on if you have gear and lift passes already. A $10 coupon for the T-Bar Pub is always included. Find out more about the snowshoe tours here. Fat tire biking is offered through the rental shop. Stop in there for details.
Food and good times
Check the calendar at Castle. It’s jamming up with events beyond the snow. Live music in T-Bar, weekly Tuesday Trivia nights, avalanche awareness days, torchlight parades, Valentine’s Day festivities, and something special called the Full Moon Snowshoe & Fine dining experience.
Watch the moon cycle and start booking your experience. There are three full moon experiences each season and it incorporates a nighttime cross-country tour that starts at the top of Huckleberry Chair. With headlamps lit, the group of 30 trekkers work their way down to the lodge where a six-course meal is paired with a specially selected selection of wines. Watch for Maritime Night, too. Lobster, mussels and music of the east coast make for a sold-out event.
Stay and play
There really aren’t too many places in Alberta where you can ski and stay. Castle Mountain offers something special – reasonable priced overnight accommodations. Check out Castle Mountain Central Reservations to book rooms at the ski lodge and hostel, chalets and houses.
Castle Mountain is only 45 kilometres from Pincher Creek and the great big Ramada sign glowing in the dark is a welcome site. Head there after a day of skiing or dining so you are close by for the next day on the boards. Check the Ramada webpage for ski and stay specials.
About the snow
OK, forget the snowshoes and the fine dining and focus on the big attraction. The resort sees an average of 900 cm of snow annually and offers 94 trails in eight alpine bowls on two mountains. A couple of terrain parks complete the package. This place is not fancy. It’s run by a bunch of serious skiers who want to share their love for fresh tracks. It’s the perfect time to check it out.