Off The Piste: ‘Cat Skiing Across The Nation
Loadin' up for a trip into the backcountry (Cascade Powder Hounds/Facebook)
In greater and greater numbers, skiers and snowboarders have taken to snowcat rides into powder country all across the U.S.
From the Appalachians to the Upper Peninsula to the Rockies, Cascades and Sierra, it’s a daily sight: Snowcats packed with powderhounds heading into the backcountry. Many resorts have put this off-piste option into their regular portfolios, and SnoCountry.com went looking around the country to find some of them.
Sugarloaf. Twelve-seat ‘cat runs every 20 minutes from below base of King Pine chair into 100 acres of Burnt Mountain’s mid-section glades. Two ‘cats hold 12 each to find 1,400 of vert on weekends and in vacation weeks only. Reservations can be had online.
Mount Bohemia. Only snowcat tours in Midwest, 18-person ‘cat runs up Voodoo Mountain got on Wednesdays and Saturdays. All-day tours hit about 100 acres of trees with 700 vert. – plus major view of Lake Superior.
Ski Cooper. Nearby Chicago Ridge on Continental Divide – where 10th Mountain Division trained for WWII – rises just above the ski area. In 12-person ‘cat, all-day tours bring skiers and riders up to 12,600 feet for up to 12 runs down as much as 10,000-foot long runs with 2,000 vert.
Grand Targhee. More than 600 pristine acres of powder sit amidst the Tetons. Can get up to 18,000 vert a day in glades, bowls and chutes. ‘Cats seat 12, and includes lunch and snacks.
Homewood. Rise above the Lake Tahoe mountain into more than 750 acres on Ellis Peak. All-day rides lap 2,000 vert for max of 10 people, and begin at bottom of Old Homewood Express chair.
Cascades. Snowcats haul up to 12 skiers and riders deep into Cascade Mountains for up to 10 runs a day on 1,500 acres of remote terrain. Base is appropriately named Scenic, Wash., with short ride to launch yurt. Overnight stays in yurt available.
Powder Mountain. The crown jewel of powder skiing in the West runs both a shuttle service off top of Sundown, Timberline and Hidden Lake chairs – a lift tickets gets you to 1,500 vert -- and all-day ‘cat tour in backcountry Gertsen and Davenport canyons with 3,000 vert.