Winter FAQs

You have questions - we have the answers!

Packages

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.

Accommodation

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 Tamarack Lodge includes an impressive 60 seat dining room, a state of the art kitchen and our spa facility.  The Red Eagle Lodge has 10 cozy rooms with ensuite bathrooms.  This lodge is equipped with a combination of single, double, queen and king beds and there are comfortable living rooms on both the upper and main floor.

Amenities

Each of the lodges has its own outdoor hot-tub 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 hot-tub is on the covered patio adjoining the spa solarium. In the Cedar Lodge the hot-tub 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. 

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.

Meal Plan

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.

British Columbia Liquor Laws

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.

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.

Your Catskiing Day

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.

Weather & Snow Conditions

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 dryer.

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 more mild.

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.

Powder Skis/Snowboards

We provide skis and snowboards as part of your tour price.  Our fleet consists of Solomon Rocker 2 (122) and Rockette’s for the ladies. 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.  For Snowboards we carry Prior – Kyber and Spearhead boards.  Both are fantastic big mountain snowboards.

Cancellation

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 cancelling 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.

Groups

Island Lake runs 3 snowcats; each cat holds twelve skiers/riders. A full group of 12 friends insures that you may choose your own level of skiing/riding.

Ability Levels

Island Lake adventurers should be confident, strong intermediate to advanced level skiers/snowboarders in good physical condition.  All guests should be aware that slopes are not groomed and many runs have trees on them. We have powder skis available that make the transition into backcountry skiing easy and enjoyable.

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.

Photographer/Videographer

Island Lake offers complete photo and video services provided by onsite professional photographers.  They will accompany you on 1 day of your tour and take pictures.  No more having to stop and wait to snap shots of your pals, now you can focus on the good stuff!  Details

Returning Guests & Rebooking

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 over night in any of these months.

Spa

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 60 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.

Stretch Classes

Every morning from 7:30-8:30am 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.

Breakdown of the day – Here is an example tour intinerary.

Release of Liability

A “Release of Liability, Waiver of Claims, Assumption of Risk and Indemnity Agreement” is required to be signed prior to skiing or riding. Anyone under 19 years of age- must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian.  Included in your package is a sample of the waiver form.  Please make sure that you and all members of your party review this prior to arrival. It will be signed and witnessed by our staff once you have completed our Transceiver and Safety Training.  Read the Full Waiver –  IL Release 2016

Waiver

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.

Ike Miyan - Tokyo, Japan