Front Range favorite Loveland Ski Area has gotten the go-ahead from U.S. Forest Service to deliver skiers and riders into an off-resort bowl previously restricted to backcountry users.
The tours into 580-acre Dry Gulch, located in the upper northwest corner of the Colorado mountain boundaries and north of Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70, supplement Loveland's existing free snowcat service in the same area at the top of Lift 9.
Running from the top of Lift 8, 16-person snowcats with a backcountry guide will make up to two trips a day into the area. Skiers and riders can expect 5-7 runs off the ridgeline of Mt. Trelease into the gulch each trip. Snowcats will drop off passengers at one of two locations on either side of bowl, and pick all up at a single spot at the base of the bowl.
Half of the pay-to-snowcat area is already within Loveland's permit boundaries, but has been used only by backcountry skiers and 'boarders. They can still hike into the area without a guide, according to Loveland's plan.
Resort management hasn't set the price for the new snowcat service, nor the days of the week that the tours will be operating. Advanced reservations will, however, be necessary.
For the past five seasons, Loveland has stationed a snowcat on the ridge just north of top of Chair 9 on a first-come first-served basis on Wednesdays-Sundays. There is no charge other than a day or season pass, but all have to complete a waiver either online or at the base ticket office, and present a Ridge Cat Pass obtained at the ticket office.
Short haul takes up to 18 skiers and 'boarders to a half-dozen blacks and double diamond in-bounds runs that funnel into the mountain's established runs between Chair 4 and Chair 8
With paid snowcat tours, Loveland becomes the fifth Colorado resort to run snowcat tours. There also are a couple of snowcat tour companies that operate independent of ski and snowboard resorts.