At the end of an incredible week in Colorado's San Juan mountains, and after an epic guided day's skiing on Silverton Mountain we still had a whole day of adventuring to come with Silverton powder cats.... the icing on an already very delicious cake!
We were on such a high after our day at Silverton Mountain, but I think we all agreed that we'd have struggled to do another days hiking - no amount of wall squats can prepare you for a full day of skiing and climbing at 12,000 feet when you spend the rest of the year in an office job at sea level! So cat skiing was just what the doctor ordered - it's the perfect thing for people who want to ski untracked powder without having to sell a kidney to afford a day in a helicopter, or sweating it out trekking uphill
The way it works is you basically hire a snow cat (piste basher in European ski speak) to take you around a mountain all day and access untouched terrain. The powerful machines can't access the super steeps like a helicopter can, but in many ways they have some other unique advantages - they're not affected by weather so while hell's are stuck on their pads, cat skiers can be gorging on face shots all day long. Cat skiing is also more environmentally friendly than heliskiing and it's more chilled out - The cabin is warm and dry so you can relax, chat to your friends and munch a couple of snacks on the way up to each run. Not to mention it's at least half the price for a full day! Bonus!
Silverton Powder Cats operate two vehicles in an area just a few miles outside Silverton and after a quick safety briefing we loaded up, climbed aboard and go ready to rumble!
As we started to climb we took in the incredible views from the comfort of the cabin and waited excitedly for our first run!
Each ride takes about 10 minutes and before long we were at the top of our first descent.
And from the on in, it was powder run after powder run - all day long.
With a short stop for a picnic lunch served on a snowbank carved (by the cat, of course) into the side of the mountain.
Before we set off again.
We didn't see any other people all day. We were on our private mountain and it was magical.
Exhilarated and exhausted we finished up back at base with a few beers before heading back into town for our last night of holiday - finished our stay in Silverton where it started - at the Rum bar!
If you're a powder hound, love skiing and want to try something that's a little bit off the beaten track, put Telluride and Silverton on your list. And if my rambling blog posts haven't convinced you, perhaps this video will.