Ben Clatworthy was determined to go heli-skiing or cat-skiing. His only problem was his budget, which was, erm, C$10.

If there's one adventure every ski fanatic has on their bucket list, it's to jump in a helicopter, be whisked to a remote mountain and make virgin tracks in waist-deep powder. Of course this comes with a hefty price tag. The cheaper alternative - swapping the chopper for a snow cat detracts a little from the James Bond appeal, but more importantly will still put a dent in your wallet. You have to part with C$500 a day in many resorts. 

There is, however, a way to get a taste of the dream. Red Mountain offers cat skiing for a mere C$10 per descent. This season the snow cat moves to a new sector, opening up 200 acres of tree skiing, previously reserved for those willing to take on a challenging hike.

The service, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday on a first-come, first-served basis, whisks skiers on a ten-minute ascent from Grey Mountain up 500m (1, 600ft) to the top of Mount Kirkup. From its peak you choose whether to tackle the powder on either intermediate or advanced slopes.

I hopped on the cat earlier this year in its temporary home serving the terrain of White Wolf Ridge.

"Hey, don't tell your friends in Europe about this, will you?" said the cheery operator when I handed him a crisp C$10 bill. I had become accustomed to being greeted this way at Red. This is a local's paradise, and they like it that way.

There were just a handful of fellow skiers milling around at the pickup area, allowing us to fit comfortably in the 12-seat cat. Leaving every 20 minutes, it rarely has long queues. There can be some hanging around during a dry spell or after a big snow dump when the lift-served powder is tracked. But, as a European holidaymaker of the sort the resort is keen to attract, I had a natural advantage. I could go on a quiet weekday morning when most locals are hard at work.

Overnight, we had been treated to just enough fresh snow to replenish the tracked-out areas, and by the morning we had blue skies. At the peak, the race is on: click, I'm in my bindings and away, making huge, swooping turns in a bowl of knee deep powder.

Of course, you're restricted to skiing a pre-defined route, and the cat doesn't deviate from this, in the way it would if we were seeking out the best snow on a day-long excursion. Similarly, you are not taken into the vast backcountry wilderness, or offered a picnic in a remote log cabin. But I amnot looking for that - I'm just looking for a taste of proper powder.

Half way down we stop to catch our breath. "Again?" I ask my snow host. It seems churlish not to. Anyway, it'll be a while before I've coughed up C$500.

Where else to find affordable cat adventures

If you search long and hard, you can find similar deals, perfect for those bitten by the cat skiing bug. Utah's Powder Mountain ( offers snow cat access to Lightning Ridge and 700 acres of powder from $15.

Loveland (, in Colorado, offers a short, free cat ride. The ten-minute trip opens up the North View bowl, and a wonderful descent, aptly named the 'Field of Dreams'.

Although a rarity in Europe, there is a sizable cat skiing outfit in... the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. Eskimo Snowcat Freeriding (, based in the Sharr mountain range, has packages from €200 per person, per day, which includes cat rides, safety equipment hire, accommodation and all food.

The Ski Club's Freshtracks holidays also offer cat and heliskiing.