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Frequently Asked Questions

Our snowcat operator will drive us back 6 miles away from HWY 395 to the Virginia Lakes Valley where our yurts reside. The snowcat is used as a tool to transport our groups to the best snow and ski terrain. Transport times in the snowcat also allow us to use it as a classroom, lunch shack, and resting point to refresh between runs.

We use the snowcat to go uphill, and when conditions allow we have ‘cat laps’ in which we can use the snowcat like a chairlift with no skinning whatsoever. For some runs, we’ll use the snowcat to go uphill to a drop-off then continue uphill on skins for a long run that ends at a cat pick-up. Finally, we have some straightforward backcountry skiing terrain in which the snowcat takes you to the base where we skin up and ski down. Basically, we maximize your powder turns for the minimum amount of hiking!

No worries! Our ski guides are happy to introduce you to backcountry ski gear, explain best practices with avalanche rescue equipment, and share the tips and tricks they’ve learned from years of experience in the backcountry. This is the perfect setting for you and your friends to learn how to use specialized backcountry ski equipment. For a more formal educational experience, consider making your trip an Introduction to Backcountry Course.

  • Required Avalanche Safety equipment:
    • Modern Avalanche Transceiver (3 antenna with fresh batteries)
    • Avalanche Shovel
    • Avalanche Probe
    • Back pack (Avalanche Airbag Pack recommended and available to rent)
      • We are happy to provide this avalanche rescue equipment for your group
  • Skiing/Snowboarding:
    • Alpine touring or telemark ski or splitboard equipment
    • Climbing skins – must cover full width of ski base
    • Helmets are recommended but optional
  • See “What to bring” for an extensive packing list.

Our ski guides and snowcat-operator/yurt-host aim to provide a unique and memorable backcountry experience for you and a great way to show your appreciation is tipping. The standard tip is 20% of the total trip cost and this will be split amongst the employees on your trip.

Yes, our trips accommodate a maximum of 8 people at a time and we are happy to work with you to add or subtract group members prior to your trip. The day rates at High Sierra Snowcat are set, regardless if you fill all 4 or 8 seats.

In the event that you cancel within 60 Days of your scheduled trip, you are not entitled to a refund of any sort. You may transfer the credit to different available dates during the same winter season. If you do not want to re-schedule, HSS will advertise the availability through email and online venues. If we can sell days during all or part of your trip we will refund you the cost of your trip minus the 5% non-refundable booking fee.

If you cancel more than 60 days before your trip, you will receive a full refund minus the 5% booking fee.

If High Sierra Snowcat must cancel a trip, due to weather, mechanical issues, etc. we will work with you to reschedule your trip to different dates in the same season. You would also be entitled to a refund for the cost of your trip minus the 5% non-refundable booking fee.

We recommend getting travel insurance! Why? Because life happens and you should be protected. Check out Global Rescue.

Yes. Our ski guides have a minimum requirement of a Wilderness First Responder Certification and carry first-aid kits while skiing. Additionally, our snowcats are equipped with a BLS first aid and trauma kit with oxygen, and a Cascade Toboggan in case of an emergency.

While cell service is typically reliable in the Virginia Lakes Valley, our yurts are newly equipped with Starlink Internet. Our guides carry InReach (satellite emergency locator and messenger devices) and VHF radios.

Dogs are not welcomed in the yurt for several reasons, mainly because of our aversion to leaving dogs unattended all day and our need to melt snow for drinking water.

Here is a list of local accommodations we recommend:

Buy a Gift Card to give your loved one an experience of a lifetime.

Purchase a day of skiing in the form of a gift card through the “Book Now” link. Gift Cards are valid for two years after the purchase date.