Pay To Play: Guided Snowcat Tours Adding To Loveland Offerings
Loveland Ski Area -- the only resort in the West to include snowcat rides in the day ticket -- plans to fire up pay-per-ride snowcat tours next season to bring skiers and 'boarders deeper into the backcountry.
A proposal to run guided tours from to the top of Lift 8 into Dry Gulch has gotten U.S. Forest Service approval, and now is waiting out the 45-day public comment period before a final decision.
As proposed, the snowcat operation will run a max of two trips per day into 580 acres of Dry Gulch, which is on the north side of the resort and the Eisenhower Tunnel of I-70 along the ridgeline of Mt. Trelease. Two dropoff points have been picked on either side of the gulch, and terrain funnels skiers and riders into a single pickup point for a ride back to the top or to the ski mountain at the end of the day.
Skiers and riders are expected to get 5-7 runs per day, with a capacity of 16 in each snowcat tour. A backcountry guide will oversee each run. For more hardy backcountry skiers and riders, the area will still be open without the need of a guide.
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 the Ridge Cat snowcat on the ridge just north of the 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.
A short-haul takes up to 18 skiers and 'boarders to a half-dozen blacks and double diamond in-bounds runs that funnel into the mountains 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 independently of ski and snowboard resorts.