I skied with Park City Powder Cats about four or five years ago. I’ve been meaning to get back out again for some time now and today was finally the day! I was a bit leary as we drove out this morning, partly because it hadn’t snowed much for the past week and also because the day was starting out cloudy without any blue sky poking out anywhere. However, once we pulled into the cabin in the beautiful Thousand Peaks Ranch, that serves as the base camp for the Park City Powder Cats, I started to get a good vibe – helped along no doubt, by the views of the magnificent bowls that we’d soon be riding!
After a quick safety briefing from lead guide Johnny, some tasty muffins and a last minute shot of coffee, we clambered into our chariot for the day, ably driven by Jacon, along with our two guides Megan and Jason. Dropping into Giant Steps for our ‘warm up’ run, we all could sense that this would turn out to be a great day. The wind had been whipping along the ridge before we dropped in, but once we started making turns we enjoyed a healthy serving of a few inches of fresh Utah powder piled upon a nice and supportable base.
After this first run, our guides seemed to be happy with our riding abilities and we quickly moved into territory that was steeper and deeper. That along with a clearing sky made the day zoom past. By the time we were snacking on a few delicious cookies for desert and heading out to No Name Bowl for our last run, the clouds were again closing in, but with all the blue sky, powder – and some corn that we got to play in all day, it almost seemed a fitting close to have the skies darkening again.
As I sit on my couch relishing the great day, I wanted to jot down a couple of quick tips for anyone thinking of booking a cat skiing trip:
- If it hasn’t snowed for a few days prior to your trip, don’t worry. There is lots of terrain at snowcat operations. For instance, Park City Powder Cats has over 40,000 acres of terrain in the private ranch that they operate on. Since they only run a maximum of two cats per day with each cat making from 8-12 runs per day, their terrain can offer virgin powder runs for days and sometimes even weeks after a storm!
- Try to book with a group of friends if you can, because cat skiing is an experience that is best when shared.
- A day in a snowcat can usually beat a heli day (for a fraction of the cost). You can’t ground a snowcat due to weather – you realize that it’s cloudy when it snows?! The snowcat will often beat you down to the bottom of the run and since it’s only for your group, you can leave packs and other items in the cat for the ride back up. Plus, you can get about as much skiing and riding in with a snowcat as you can with a helicopter because your day usually lasts longer and is more uninterrupted.
- Snowcat trips are also not just for hardcore skier and riders, if you feel comfortable riding advanced terrain in a variety of conditions, you’ll have an absolutely fantastic time. Remember, there are no crowds on the slopes and no lift lines!
Finally, for some ‘eye candy’, I’ve embedded a slideshow with pix of our trip below, (click here if the Vopod player isn’t loading the content):
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