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Cat Skiing

Powder Addiction for Cat-skiing Addicts
Powder Addiction for Cat-skiing Addicts

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Cat skiing or snowcat skiing takes skiers up a mountain using a snowcat as transportation instead of the usual ski lift. The idea behind cat skiing is to enable skiing in a more 'natural' environment than the heavily sculpted trails at resorts, but without the effort that would be required from hiking up into the wilderness.

Cat Skiing at Jones Pass?

Jones Pass is the closest cat skiing to Denver. The surrounding peaks are visually stunning — and even more amazing to ski. It’s located about 10 miles off of exit 232 from Interstate 70. (Residents on the other side of Berthoud Pass can meet at Winter Park and ride a shuttle to the cat at Jones Pass.)

The high-alpine environment is chock full of varied terrain. Eastern flanks of the Continental Divide allow snowboarders to easily traverse from one region to another. From there, riders duck into funnels, tree runs ending in 007-like trails, open bowls and other hidden stashes.

Powder Addiction

Now in its third year, Powder Addiction has a knowledgeable and enthusiastic team that knows every nook and cranny of the Jones Pass area

Guides like Jamie Wolter have dedicated their lives to mountaineering and they can find the best snow on the 2,880 acres they access. In spring conditions, the guides know how to avoid frozen-over zones. After winter storms, they know where the wind has loaded snow or blown it away — and they take guests to the softest, deepest snow possible.

Cat Skiing Experience

The cat initially motors riders about 4 miles up, near the Continental Divide ridge. During the ride, the lead guide gives a safety talk and passes out small, light backpacks, each containing a shovel and collapsible probe. Though the team is extremely safety conscious, no precious ski time is wasted talking; that’s efficiently done during the cat ride.

Likewise, unless a group really wants to sit out a run and eat, there’s no designated lunch break. Instead, everyone is free to munch on a boxed lunch anytime the cat heads to the next powder stash. Lunch consists of a sandwich, cookie, apple and chips.

Most skiers use the company’s complementary Liberty skis which allow them to float in powder. Those not used to fat skis though would need make sure it truly is a powder day. It wouldn't be a good idea to get stuck skiing a fat ski in 2 inches of snow, or on harder pack, if it hasn’t snowed for a while. After a full day packed with as many fresh lines as possible, riders cruise a couple miles down the wide cat trail, then turn in their beacon and pack for a cold brew.

Powder Addition Info

Where: Jones Pass; I-70 to exit 232 (US-40 W toward Empire/Granby). Drive about 10
miles to Jones Pass, or meet at Winter Park Ski Resort and shuttle to Jones Pass
Cost: Dec. 1 to Jan. 8 and March 28 to April 22 — $350
Jan. 9 to March 27 — $400 (not including tip)
More info: (970) 726-5442, Powder Addiction

By Kimberly Nicoletti

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