Please review our most frequently asked questions below. Do not hesitate to contact us should you require additional information.
What is included?
All guided skiing packages are priced in Canadian Dollars and include all meals (set plan), accommodation and powder ski/board rentals. There is an additional 5% GST applicable on the whole package, and 10% Hotel Tax applicable on the accommodation portion of the package. Gratuities are not included.
The Tamarack and Cedar Lodges feature 8 deluxe guest rooms each, with spacious ensuite bathrooms, a soaker tub and shower and a combination of queen and king beds. The Red Eagle Lodge has 10 cozy rooms with ensuite bathrooms.
Each of the lodges has its own outdoor sauna with stunning views of the Lizard Range. In the Red Eagle, it is located right on the main deck, off the common area, out under the wide-open sky. The Tamarack Lodge is equipped with a beautiful spa facility and the sauna is on the covered patio adjoining the spa solarium. In the Cedar Lodge the sauna is on a covered deck as well, off the main floor common area. There is also a fitness room on the lower level of the building. This room is outfitted with stretching and yoga mats, stretching charts and apparatus, as well as limited cardio equipment and free weights.
The lower level of the Bear Lodge has recently been renovated to include personal “lockers” for storing jackets, helmets, and other ski apparel over the course of your visit with us. We have also been able to provide increased space for boot and glove dryers and more seating area during peak times of use. Other popular facilities in the Bear Lodge include a pool table and foosball table in the main après-ski and bar area. Learn more about the lodges here.
There is complimentary wireless internet available in all lodges. Please feel free to bring your laptop or tablet. We also have a limited number of iPads available for guest use. There are no phones in individual rooms; should you require use of one, there is a guest phone located in the common area of each lodge.
Packages include all meals, with dinner on the first night that you arrive. The meal plan provided by our Culinary Team is a set menu and it is important for guests to inform us of any dietary restrictions and especially allergies well in advance of their arrival.
Both The Tamarack and Bear Lodges have fully licensed bars. Due to the specifics of British Columbia Liquor Laws, any alcohol on the premises must be purchased under our liquor license. As a result, any alcohol purchased outside of the lodge may not be brought onto the property. However, we have an extensive and eclectic wine library and serve a full selection of beers and spirits.
After a great day of skiing, massage will soothe tight muscles, improve range of motion and prevent injuries. Let our experienced staff ensure you feel your best for the next day on the mountain.
Island Lake Spa features six treatment rooms, with 50 minute relaxation and deep tissue massage being offered each ski day from 4:20pm-7:30pm. Please call ahead of your arrival to reserve an appointment, as treatment space is limited.
Every morning from 7:30am – 8:30am our yoga instructors will be in the Cedar Lodge basement to lead you through a stretch class and help prep your muscles for the day ahead. Classes are optional and run on a drop-in basis.
What sort of skier or rider do I need to be?
Are you thinking about booking a cat skiing trip and wondering if you are a strong enough skier / rider? You are probably more ready than you think – most people who catski at Island Lake Lodge are fit, strong intermediate to advanced skiers/riders.
You should be ready to try catskiing if:
- You are a strong intermediate/advanced skier/rider
- You are able to ski/ride in control on any terrain
- You are comfortable in a variety of snow conditions
- You are fit enough to ski/ride for consecutive days
If you are still unsure, please have a read through the Ability Levels below for detailed descriptions of the skier/rider abilities that are recommended for Island Lake Lodge. If you are still unsure, or have any concerns you can also contact our Reservations team to help determine if you are ready.
I can ski/board anything, fast, from first chair until last call. If there’s powder on the mountain, I’ll find it and ride it with ease. Deep snow, tree runs, airs and steep terrain are what I’m looking for.
I normally ski/board advanced terrain and I’m always looking for deeper snow. I don’t need to be the fastest, and air time isn’t required for my day to be a success, but I enjoy small drops. I’m fit enough for full days and I try to get as many as I can.
I can ski/board advanced terrain comfortably, in control and at a steady pace. I enjoy riding in powder and have experience. I’m physically fit enough for multiple full days on the mountain.
Having good cardiovascular fitness is important in order to enjoy the demands of playing in our snow. Prior to your trip, we recommend that you engage in some kind of exercise program for about eight to ten weeks as the fitter you are, the better you will be able to overcome any skiing challenges and avoid injuries. We also recommend several full days of lift-serviced skiing or snowboarding to help get ready for your trip. Skiing at Fernie Alpine Resort in the lead up to your trip is a great way to ‘test’ the terrain and help get you ready for catskiing.
How do you get to Island Lake Lodge?
Where should I fly?
You have three choices. If coming from the USA and looking for reasonable flights, you might want to consider Kalispell, Montana. From the airport, you will reach Island Lake in approximately two hours by car.
The closest major centre is Calgary, Alberta, three to four hours away. The beautiful drive south through the foothills of the Canadian Rockies is well worth the trip. Perhaps consider flying all the way to Cranbrook, B.C. Only one hour from Island Lake, it is the preferred choice for some. You can get to Cranbrook by connecting through either the Calgary or Vancouver airports.
Arriving in Fernie
You can rent a vehicle from Kalispell, Cranbrook and Calgary or let us book coach transportation for you from any of the above airports. Transportation to the lodge is not included in the package price. Kalispell airport works best if you are a large group. Island Lake strongly recommends that our guests arrive a day in advance to avoid any possible delays. Please call or email well in advance for any transportation or accommodation information. Our Snow Cat pickup is located 3km north of Highway #3 near Fernie. Turn north off Hwy #3 at the Lodge sign, 2km west of Fernie. The Island Lake sign at the end of the road will denote the parking lot. You need to be at the parking lot no later than 5:00pm on the evening of your arrival. Guests will be transported back to the parking lot leaving the lodge no later than 4:30 pm on the last day of the tour.
Alternative and or Late Arrival Fees
Island Lake Lodge is 8km up the Cedar Valley. Guests travel to and from the lodge via Snow Cat, which takes approximately half an hour. Guest pickup is at the parking lot at 5:00pm, the night prior to the first ski day. There will be a charge per person for late, early or alternative pickups. Please call the office if you will not be arriving at the parking lot by 5:00 pm or if your travel plans have changed.
What should I expect from a day of Catskiing?
The lodge is at the elevation of 4600 ft. The skiing starts as high as 7000 ft. The Island Lake experience includes breathtaking bowls, exciting tree runs or gentle rolling slopes with a variety of aspects and pitches. The ski day generally consists of 8-12 runs, approx. 12,000-15,000 vertical feet depending on the ability level of each group. Breakfast starts at 7am in the Tamarack Dining Room. You will be on the mountain from approximately 9:00am to 4:00pm. After skiing, there will be après-ski in the Bear Lodge bar then dinner at 7:30pm. Watch our a day in the life video to get full rundown.
Guiding & Safety
Our three Snow Cats operate with two guides in each cat of 12 guests. All guides are fully qualified as either a guide or a tail guide as defined by the BC Helicopter and Snow Cat Association. On the first morning of the tour, the guiding staff will introduce you to avalanche transceivers and search techniques. Each guest is supplied with an avalanche transceiver to wear on the mountain and a backpack containing an avalanche probe and shovel. Watch a video overview of our Safety Program
Please note that Island Lake does not allow the use of drones on our property.
Drug and Alcohol Policy
To ensure the safety of yourself and the other group members you must refrain from alcohol and drug use before and while skiing or boarding at Island Lake Catskiing. Anyone breaking this rule will be barred from skiing or boarding for the duration of the day.
Island Lake offers complete photo and video services provided by onsite professional photographers. Our photographers are seasoned pros with decades of experience and are some of the best in the industry. They will accompany you on 1 day of your tour, take pictures and then display a slideshow at the end of the day. No more having to stop and wait to snapshots of your pals, now you can focus on the good stuff! Details
What will the weather be like?
Skiing/Riding at Island Lake is good to excellent most of the time, but nothing is perfect! Conditions in the mountains can change dramatically overnight. Do not despair if you hear discouraging reports shortly before your trip, it often changes favorably at the snap of a finger. Our guides are experts at giving you a fun and safe trip in all weather and snow conditions.
Early Season Skiing in December
Though still early season, skiing in December can be fantastic. Days are typically a bit shorter and colder making the snow typically a bit drier.
Late Season Skiing in March and April
We tend to get our biggest storms of the season in March. The days are longer and the weather tends to be a bit milder.
What do I need for equipment?
Equipment & Clothing
Important items to ensure you bring along with you: Ski/snowboard boots (we do not provide these), warm clothing, day pack, camera, goggles, slippers for around the lodges, bathing suit, snow boots, sunscreen.
Our ski fleet consists of the
- Men’s DPS Foundation Lotus 124. The Foundation Lotus 124 provides performance in mixed snow. It is easy to ski when the going gets tough, yet still have the DNA to charge. The Foundation 124 greatly benefits from the planted, stable, and amazing feel of the new Foundation bamboo-popular based construction.
- Men’s DPS Foundation Wailer 112. The Wailer 112 offers superior float in powder without sacrificing performance. Plus, its Foundation construction lends it best-in-class construction with extraordinary power and dampness.
- Women’s DPS Foundation Yvette 112. The Yvette 112 is the one-quiver, do-everything ski for the fresh snow seeking skier. The Foundation construction makes it responsive thanks to a carefully layered-up combination of bamboo, poplar and carbon.
- Men’s Salomon QST 118. The QST 118 skis are an ideal weapon for crushing fresh powder. The tapered tips and tails allow for a hook-free ski experience that is super fun and easy to use. Due to the construction, shape, and rocker profile, the QST 118 offers great power and stability in powder and mixed snow and provides strength and great terrain adaption
- Women’s Salomon QST Stella 106. The QST Stella 106 has been known as the go-to powder tool providing a light and maneuverable ski. The twin rocker profile floats through light snow without sacrificing stability and power. It is light in the tip and tail for easy steering.
We also have poles, but we do not supply boots. There are snowshoes and cross country skis at the lodge, available upon request as well as a variety of other things that you may need, (or may have forgotten) at the lodge gift shop.
Salomon Sickstick, Super 8, Pillowtalk and Speedway – Surf the pow or slap the slush, the Sickstick snowboard is the deck in the quiver that can handle it all. Various sizes available from 153 cms – 162 cms. Super8 – The Super 8 Snowboard is designed with Backseat Camber that puts the power and control under your back foot, whether you’re ripping pow or laying down turns on groomers. Featuring Rocket Science—a wider design for loose and wild maneuverability, this board has power, speed, and control. Various sizes available from 154 cms – 163 cms. The Speedway is a big mountain tapered direction board with rocker. We have it in 165 and 170. Pillow Talk – (Women’s) – This powder puppy board is tailored specifically for women and endorsed by Annie Boulanger. The Pillow Talk snowboard can ride it all. Various sizes available from 143 cms – 151 cms
Atlas Spindrift – The Spindrift was designed for speed and performance on technical terrain, with an ultra-durable molded foredeck, slim profile, and aggressive traction, providing the ultimate fast and light backcountry experience.
So you want to come back next year?
Guests wishing to return the following winter have an opportunity to book their same tour for the next season within 1 month of departure. After that day, seats will be open to the public for booking. Increased demand suggests guests should call and book immediately after their tour to keep their seat(s). If you’re not sure when to book, you should be aware that Island Lake gets great snow from December through April. Each of these months is different, but not necessarily any one consistently better than the other. We can and do get 12-36 inches of snow overnight in any of these months.
What is your cancellation policy?
A 25% non-refundable deposit is required upon booking. Full payment is due 120 days in advance of your arrival. All cancellations are 100% non-refundable. Island Lake has the right to cancel unpaid bookings without notice. It is highly recommended that guests purchase travel insurance to cover their travel costs.
If a guest cancels
If a guest cancels and Island Lake is asked to find a replacement for the seat, payments will be refunded when the seat is filled with another guest – less an administration fee of $250.00.
A guest may sell their tour seat to another skier, aged 19 years or older with Island Lake Lodge’s knowledge & consent, but in order for Island Lake not to charge the $250.00 administration fee, the guest must collect the monies directly from the replacement. Island Lake will not be involved in the transaction, other than to receive the new name and contact details.
If the seat cannot be filled either by Island Lake or the canceling guest, then all payments received by Island Lake are non-refundable.
It is highly recommended that guests purchase travel insurance to cover their travel costs.
If Island Lake cancels
Island Lake Lodge reserves the right to cancel any ski tour up to 48 hours before the start of the tour. If Island Lake cancels a ski tour, guests will be given a full catski tour credit, which has to be used within 2 years of the original tour date and will be based upon availability. It is highly recommended that guests purchase travel insurance to cover their travel costs.
Island Lake runs 3 snowcats; each cat holds twelve skiers/riders. A full group of 12 friends ensures that you may choose your own level of skiing/riding.
From Our Customers
I have gone to many cat/heli operations in the past but this is the top notch!
This is my return trip to Island Lake and this time 8 from Japan have joined me. Seclusion, access to variety ski terrains, snowfall, food and the entire experiences are very well balanced, and supported by professionals.