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Snowcat Skiing, Riding Limited In Colorado This Season

Purgatory-Snow-Cats Though cut back this season, snowcat tours still run deep into the Colorado back country for never-to-be-forgotten powder runs. (Purgatory Snowcat Adventures/Facebook)

Hoppin' a ride on a snowcat to get off the piste and into the powder stashes of the backcountry is a popular pastime at Colorado resorts. But this season, there are fewer options than normal.

Due to virus concerns, tours on a snowcat into the backcountry have been canceled -- so far for this season -- at Ski Cooper, Keystone, and Loveland. Others have made changes.

At Monarch, 'cat skiing covers 1,600-plus acres along Continental Divide to the north of ski area. One 6-person run per weekday for $3,600, two 'cats paired for two trips for 12 total on weekends. Due to Covid, reservations for entire six-seat 'cat only, either traveling/household members or those comfortable sitting close by. Food and drink afterward only.

Aspen Snowmass snowcats hit 1,500 acres of backcountry behind Aspen Mountain. 'Cats and guides head to terrain most applicable to skiers and riders on board. Lunch in a mountain cabin. Eight is the recommended capacity this season, and no individual seats will be sold for now -- nor will transferable tickets be accepted.

Up at Steamboat, a half-hour shuttle ride gets powderhounds to Buffalo Pass area for a full day. Ability levels dictate terrain, and box lunch provided. Private 'cats for up to six ($7,200 max) for now; if conditions improve, individual seats may be available, but no Alpenglow tours this season. For health, pre-tour screening and temp check.

In southwest Colorado, Purgatory will run snowcats into its massive 35,000-acre San Juan Mountains permit area. Operating on Friday-Monday only, starting Jan. 15. Private 'cats only with up to 10 from the same household for $3,999. Pre-arrival "symptom tracker" required.

Nearby, Silverton Powdercats make daily trips off Molas Pass south of Silverton. Booking 48 hours beforehand. Lunch provided. Because of Covid, private parties up to a limit of five skiers/riders go for $2,500.

At Crested Butte, as of Jan. 5, Irwin Guides renowned snowcat skiing is on hold for all but visitors staying in resort lodging. Operators hope to expand to full buyout tours in near future. Call (970) 349-5430, email info@irwinguides.com or check the website for updates.


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