"Send the Telemarkers First"

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

You could see it on our guide's face.

The three of us had just finished signing liability waivers at the front desk and were heading back outside when he first laid eyes on us. The rest of the day's crew had already assembled, and it was clear they were going to be good. High end gear, physically fit, and not a gaper gap in sight. They were going to ski fast and hard, and our guide was excited about it. Although a consummate professional, his transition from excitement to apprehension as the three of us waddled up with our telemark gear was poorly hidden.

We later discovered that it wasn't common for telemarkers to join up with the "Expert" cat skiing groups at Big Red Cats in Rossland, BC. Located at the base of Red Mountain, a sleepy, old, and frankly fantastic ski resort tucked near the U.S. border in the Kootenays, British Columbia, Big Red Cats offers skiers and riders access to a vast network of BRC maintained trails with some of the best skiing in the region. Red Mountain is the kind of place that the stereotype of the telemarker was born and is still no stranger to members of the tribe today. But it was clear that the pinheads didn't often stumble into the cat skiing outfit. Most of them were probably out earning their turns, but that weekend we decided to pay for our potential energy... and we were not disappointed.

That was an understatement. The skiing was amazing.

Photo Credit: Lauren Powers (@laurenpowers.photography)

Photo Credit: Lauren Powers (@laurenpowers.photography)

What we found waiting for us was mile after mile of spectacular gladed wilderness. We all went "Mach Chicken" down steep, pillowy goodness, sending everything from massive powder fields to deep and tricky, yet send-able steeps. We paused only for the occasional biff and for our guide to commit to some "Jungle Warfare" as he carefully picked tight, windy paths through the trees back to the cat.

Photo Credit: Lauren Powers (@laurenpowers.photography)

Photo Credit: Lauren Powers (@laurenpowers.photography)

Photo Credit: Lauren Powers (@laurenpowers.photography)

Our guide confessed later in the day that he was worried we weren't going to be able to hang. Not only did we "hang", but we even proved useful. Telemarkers of the world, uphill travel is undoubtedly a benefit of freeing the heel, but sometimes it's good to help out our snowboard and alpine buddies. Sometimes it's good to join the masses and show off our skills outside of creating sexy turns. Big Red Cats had cut a new trail in the Kootenay wilderness the previous summer and, considering all the snow, our guide thought it a great day for a maiden voyage.

We got to the bottom of the pitch only for him to realize that it wasn't a trivial traverse out. He set off breaking trail back to the cat, and about ten minutes later radioed back to the group, "the track's ok, but.... uh.... send the telemarkers first." I think the group would still be stuck in the wilderness trying to muck through the deep snow if it weren't for our beautiful bindings.

Photo Credit: Lauren Powers (@laurenpowers.photography)

As our day of hiding knees in the powder came to a close, it was only right to finish off with some

post-cat pitchers at the aptly named Rafters, a few more pints down in the pit at Rossland Beer Company, and a final sore (yet satisfied) stumble back to yet more drinks at The Flying Steamshovel where, mercifully, our bedroom was just upstairs. A quick game of dice to settle sleeping arrangements later, we were all quickly asleep, content, and dreading the next day's inevitable hangover. Would we do it again?

Hell yes.

More information for trips at Big Red Cats:


More epic photography from Lauren Powers:


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