Want to experience some Siberian Cats? We’re not talking about the stripy kind either. We’ve been checking out a set up called PriFreerideCompany based in the heart of the Siberian wilderness – they specialise in catskiing experiences and have been established for 12 years now.
Story by Mark Barber and Rob Stewart
We’ve been lucky enough to travel to some pretty cool places over the years, but this one really does look like a true adventure, with some top class freeriding thrown in for good measure too.
So what is catskiing? Most of you would have seen footage of skiers or snowboarders being dropped out of helicopters onto the top of mountains such as at the beginning of BBC’s Ski Sunday. Or the platoon of helicopters dropping pro-boarders off onto unchartered powder in the film Art of Flight. The scenes of which would make any action movie proud.
Heliskiing is certainly popular but also needs the budget of a small country’s economy. catskiing can give the same experience of untouched powder back-country but is a lot more affordable.
With catskiing you are transported up a mountain in a snow cat (piste basher). Snowcats are comfortable, convenient and can usually carry up to 14 people. They are also a lot friendlier on the environment than helicopters. Let’s face it, Helicopters are cool but leave a carbon footprint bigger than a Yeti!
Catskiing In Siberia With PriFreerideCompany
Based in Siberia, the Pri Freeride organisation has been offering professional catskiing and freeride experiences in the mountains of Kuznetsk Alatau for over 11 years. They are located in the village of Priiskovy, Republic of Khakassia.
Pri Freeride Adventure run a slick operation with their own hotel in Priiskovy, a restaurant, a sauna, and the uber cool micro-club ‘Makhorka’. They also have the grand total of 5 snowcats. Not only will these be used to whisk you up the mountain, they will also pick you up at the bottom.
They not only give you the transportation, Pri Freeride Adventure also offer freeride guides to get you back down. These guys are the locals so you are in safe hands and their track record is excellent.
Siberian Kuznetsk Alatau Mountain Range
The beautiful wilderness of the Kuznetsk Alatau mountain range is paradise for powder hounds and the small village of Priiskovy is the perfect golden gateway to it.
The winters are long in Siberia and the powder is deep. The Kuznetsk Alatau is as isolated as it is stunning. Catskiing opens up this terrain to the land of freeride opportunities. If you are a dog-eared adrenaline freeride junkie then consider this the next frontier!
Up until 1996 this small village of 700 habitants used to be a gold-mining community. It’s not like the typical ski resort villages you would find in The Alps, in fact far from it – compared to them, it’s pretty basic, but for many it will seem pretty exotic as a location.
Put it this way, you will not find a Starbucks here, but what you will find is a real slice of Siberian mountain life.
PriFreerideCompany– What The Package Includes
You certainly will be well looked after, starting with transfers to and from the airport. You will also be treated to full-board accommodation at their hotel, staying in a double or twin room.
Also included in the package is use of the sauna which is available every evening. A great way to unwind after a hard day surfing powder giving those sore muscles some relief.
You will not have to worry about slugging all that avalanche gear through airport security as full hire of the equipment is available. Probably a sensible option. Although, if you do decide to take your own you needn’t worry as you will be picked up from the airport in a 19-seater Mercedes Sprinter.
As mentioned, the Siberian winters are long. What this means is that PriFreeride start their catskiing trips during early October, and they run all the way through to June, conditions permitting.
What it Costs
For a five day adventure (Monday to Friday) prices start at €1.000 per person including transfers, full-board accommodation on a twin / double basis, catskiing and guiding. A full week starts at €1.400 euros per person.
There’s also have a day rate of €200. If you are travelling all the way from the UK I don’t suppose you will want to stay for just a few days, but the extra days can be considered for a bolt-on option.
How To Get There
There are no direct international flights from the UK to the local Krasnoyarsk airport. Flights to here would be from Moscow.
The transfer time to and from the airport is a whopping 6-8 hours drive. But, as said this is a remote location and not a commercialised European resort. This is the real deal and that is why you want to go.
Flights From The UK
Aeroflot fly from London Heathrow to Krasnoyarsk via Moscow throughout the winter season most days of the week, including Saturdays and Sundays. Prices start from around £500 return: aeroflot.ru
Included In The Price
Transfer from Krasnoyarsk airport and back
Meals (large breakfast, rich snack on the mountain, extensive dinner)
Tour guide services
Avalanche equipment rent (beeper, shovel, probe)
Sauna (every evening)
Furako (twice a week)
Set of souvenirs
Welcome gift at check-in
Not Included In The Price
Clothing and accessories such as backpack for freeriding
Avalanche airbag system, portable radio (not mandatory)
Alcohol, extra meals
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)