Powder Addiction provides the fix
Ryan Summerlin March 15, 2012
Powder Addiction provides what no other company can: cat skiing within 45 minutes of Denver.
Now in its third year, the outfit motors skiers and riders up to 2,880 acres of varied terrain on Jones Pass. Urban and mountain dwellers access it through an approximately 10-mile drive straight off of Interstate 70, while residents on the other side of Berthoud Pass meet at Winter Park and shuttle to the cat.
Powder Addiction cat tours are designed for the true powder lover. Unlike other operations that take precious ski time out for lunch, safety talks and bathroom breaks, the guides – and clients – have one main focus: finding the best snow on which to lay down tracks.
And yet, they’re still safety conscious, the food is great – and you don’t have to hold it till day’s end. At Powder Addiction, it’s all about efficiency: Jamie Wolter or another guide will teach you about avalanche and mountain safety on the initial 4-mile cat ride up near the ridge; you’ll munch on the beefy sandwich, apple, chips and cookie in your boxed lunch in-between runs as the cat heads to more powder stashes; and you’ll either squat privately in front of the cat (if you’re a powder-addicted lady) or duck into the trees to relieve yourself.
But don’t worry: By the time it comes down to bathroom breaks, the group usually has bonded. Between watching each other carve sweet turns and chatting in the passenger cab, which is designed to increase social interaction with its facing rows (as opposed to school-bus style), people tend to drop any shyness.
Wolter has dedicated his life to mountaineering, and he’s put together an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team that sniffs out the best snow like a pack of hungry wolves. Even in the worst frozen-over spring conditions, they hike up a ridge or duck into trees to find soft snow.
The high-alpine environment allows for easy navigation across the eastern flanks of the Continental Divide, so skiers and riders can drop into the natural playground, complements of Jones Pass. Sometimes wind loads different zones throughout the area, and guides know whether to take guests into open bowls, funnels, tree runs ending in 007-like-courses or other hidden stashes.
After a day packed with as many fresh lines as possible, riders cruise a couple miles down the cat trail, and then exchange their beacon and small backpack (equipped with a light shovel and probe) for a cold beer.