Steaming growth in backcountry skiing has prompted two resorts to add new snowcat programs this winter. But not where you might expect. Upper Michigan launched the first cat skiing in the Midwest while California’s new snowcat operation provides the first rimming Lake Tahoe. Both of their adventures claim stunning lake views during descents.
Voodoo Mountain at Mt. Bohemia, Michigan
Perched on the tip of Keweenaw Peninsula, Mount Bohemia created the first cat skiing in the Midwest. It’s a logical step for the resort that caters to intermediate and advanced skiers with more vertical and natural slopes. Skiers and riders sail through lake effect powder without the artifice of groomed corduroy.
Bohemia’s snowcat terrain sits a 20-minute bus ride away on Voodoo Mountain. Designed, cut runs plunge through the forest from Peak Three, one of Voodoo’s summits where a 360-degree view takes in the immensity of Lake Superior surrounding the peninsula. “You’re just out there with 17 people, and that’s it,” says spokesperson Stacy Kremer. “You really feel like you’re out in the wilderness and definitely off the grid. It’s just you, the mountains and the lake.”
Snowboarders descend Voodoo Mountain with the sun on Lake Superior.
Copyright: Louise Kremer/Voodoo Mountain
Once at Voodoo, the cat carries 20 people, including the driver and two guides, to the summit. From there, a combination of runs, intermediate to advanced, descend 700 vertical feet. Steeper, open glades flank the upper portion, while the bottom flairs into four wide lower-angled runs.
“Snowcat skiing is the path less taken,” adds Kremer. “It’s very unique to our area, and it can make for the best ski day of your life.”
Bohemia plans to add more days to the snowcat schedule after cutting additional runs this coming summer. Future plans entail expansion across the other peaks on Voodoo for 1,200 acres of cat terrain.
For this winter, Bohemia’s cat trips go out Wednesdays and Saturdays. Spots can be reserved online for trips through March 19. The $150 per person fee includes lunch. Call 906-289-4105 for more information.
Homewood's snowcat perched above Lake Tahoe.
Copyright: Homewood Mountain Resort
Homewood Mountain Resort, California
At Lake Tahoe, Homewood celebrated a grand opening party on Presidents Day for their new snowcat program. The new cat trips tour backcountry terrain on Ellis Peak, located above the resort’s ski area boundary. The 750 acres of backcountry yields a variety of descents, with the longest run at 1,828 vertical feet from the top of the peak.
Due to Homewood’s location on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, descending some inbounds runs gives the illusion of plunging right into the lake. Cat skiing elevates that experience, with broadening the view to take in the entire lake from the summit of Ellis Peak. Views also extend southward into the glacier-carved, granite peaks of the Desolation Wilderness. “[It] is some of the most desirable backcountry skiing and riding on the West Shore,” says General Manager Kevin Mitchell.
Ten skiers or riders can go each day on the cat. Guides lead the group down through tree runs, big bowls and steeps. The longest route feeds back inside the boundary of the resort to the Old Homewood Express chairlift. The lift hauls participants back up to meet the cat. For that reason, a lift ticket is included in the rate for cat skiing.
Homewood’s trips cost $399 per person. Lunch and safety gear are included. Trips go out three days per week. Book cat trips by calling Homewood's Guest Services office at 530-525-2992.
Snowcat area on Ellis Peak at Homewood Mountain Resort.
Copyright: Homewood Mountain Resort