Pounce on the Opportunity to Cat Ski

Kimberly NicolettiSummit Daily News

Very few ski areas in Colorado offercat skiing, but in Summit County, tworesorts take people to the farthestreaches of the ski boundaries.The largest snowcat tour is Keystone Resort’sKAT (Keystone Adventure Tours) skiing.It sweeps skiers and riders into IndependenceBowl for a six-hour adventure,which includes a gourmet lunch of salads,soup, natural meats, fresh artisanbreads, cheeses and cookies. Skiersbegin the day by trading in any tiredequipment for primo skis: We’re talkingfat boys here. The skis are as easy to getused to as driving a Cadillac – and assmooth. Ski patrollers hand out beaconsand review safety information for thebackcountry experience. Th en, all skiershave to do is relax on the 12-passenger,comfy snowcat for a ride through thetrees and into 300 acres of bowl andopen tree skiing. The guides couldn’t be friendlier – after all, they have oneof the best jobs on the mountain, andthey know it. They allow guests to experiencepristine backcountry conditionsin a controlled environment withoutthe strenuous, high-elevation hikes.Th at’s not to say that the day itself isn’tsomewhat strenuous; guests should becomfortable with advanced, ungroomedterrain and should be well hydrated andadjusted to elevation before they go catskiing.The cost is $225. For those whowant a less expensive ride for one run,Keystone offers a $5 (cash only) shuttle in The Outback bowls from 10:30a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Meet at the OutbackBowls gate, atop Th e Outback; reservationsare not required. For those who prefer scenic cat tours, Keystone offersa ride through the back mountains ofKeystone Resort for $35 for adults and$25 for children. It includes breathtakingviews of the Continental Divide,Ten Mile Range and the Gore Range.Reservations are required; walk-ins areonly accepted if seats are available. Catsdepart at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. For moreinformation, call (970) 496-4FUN.

If you prefer to catch a free ride,check out Copper Mountain. It providesa cat from the bottom of CopperBowl to Tucker Mountain, offeringguests access to more than 270 acres and1,200 vertical feet of high alpine bowls.The only catch: Snowcat rides are on afirst -come, first-served basis. The catspick people up every 15-20 minutesand typically motor skiers and ridersup to the ridge between Copper Bowland Tucker Mountain (depending onconditions). From there, shoot down,or hike anywhere from 20-40 minutes.Tucker terrain is expert only – it’s notgroomed, and it starts above tree lineand turns into gladed runs. To reachthe Tucker Mountain Snowcat, take theAmerican Flyer lift and then catch theRendezvous lift. From there, continueon the Otto Bahn trail to the snowcatmeeting area just next to the base of theMountain Chief lift. Cats run from 10a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily, weather permitting.Cat operations, terrain openingsand conditions may vary and are subjectto change based on weather. TuckerMountain closes at 2 p.m. Ski patrol fl iesgreen flags at all duty stations (TuckerPatrol and tops of Mountain Chief,American Flyer, Resolution, Super Beeand Excelerator lifts) when the snowcatis operating.

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