Don’t hide inside this winter
Big Red Cats in Rossland can bring out the adventurer in you, and help you embrace the excitement of winter recreation
Big Red Cats is owned and operated by Kieren and Paula Gaul, a husband and wife team with a huge sense of pride in their community. They have been in business since 2003, when they purchased the Red Shutter Inn, but they did not delve into snowcat-skiing until the winter of 2005/2006.
Currently, the company offers day-trip cat-skiing, and also a la carte packages that include lodging, multi-day cat-skiing, and lift tickets at the Red or Whitewater.
“We have four snowcats for customers, plus two spares, and run separate trips by ability level—expert, advanced and intermediate—so that skiers and riders can go with others who have a similar ability and outlook,” said Paula. “Big Red Cats is the only cat-skiing operation in the world running four snowcats for guests. We have a qualified lead and tail guide in each group, and often a trainee guide as well, and there is also a snow safety team of two others on the mountain at all times assessing snow conditions and able to respond to an emergency.”
The Gauls are community focused and they often work together with other resorts and cat-skiing operations in order to provide custom packages for guests.
“People can, for example, book a week-long trip with three days of cat-skiing and three days at the resort, while someone else in the same party might only opt for one day of cat-skiing,” said Paula. “Most of our guests stay at the resort at Red Mountain, and without the overhead of running a remote lodge we've been able to keep the prices very reasonable.”
Sparking an interest
Paula described a recent increase in public awareness of cat-skiing, and Big Red Cats has seen steady growth in the number of bookings made. It is more affordable than some other recreation options, such as heli-skiing, and offers the thrill of discovering untouched snow in the B.C. backcountry.
“Once people try it, they tell their friends what a great experience it is, and more people try it,” Paula said. “There has been an increase in backcountry skiing in general, with technological improvements to skis and touring bindings, but a significant number of people wouldn't feel comfortable in the backcountry without a guide, and cat-skiing gets lots of really good skiing in, as safely as possible.”
This alternative is ideal for skiers who prefer to get away from the more crowded, busy resorts and experience a more laid-back vacation activity. Big Red Cats also caters to groups hosting bachelor parties, ski reunions and other memorable gatherings.
Relishing the Rossland life
The Gauls find Rossland to be their perfect location, with its lively yet relaxed atmosphere and friendly residents—not to mention the boundless recreational features that are on all sides.
“Living in Rossland, we and our kids have endless recreational opportunities at our doorstep,” said Paula. “There is an excellent community of really involved and intelligent people, and we truly love our neighbours—who we see in the coffee shop, at the grocery store and volunteering at ski races and other events. It's a lovely town, and the ski terrain is second to none.”
Both Paula and Kieren have master’s degrees in business and finance, and their previous careers brought them more financial income. However, they would still prefer to live in Rossland, enjoying the Kootenay lifestyle and showing their children that loving what you do every day is indeed a possibility.