I recently had the opportunity to go on a full day of snowcat skiing in the backcountry near Jones Pass, CO through Powder Addiction, based in Winter Park, CO. I hadn’t had the opportunity until now to do a snowcat trip, but I do have plenty of days logged in the backcountry. This was the last day Powder Addiction will be running operations for the season as spring is rapidly approaching. We were fortunate to enjoy amazing fresh lines all day long. This review / trip report is based from my perspective as a consistent backcountry user.
I realize that for many backcountry enthusiasts the experience of skinning up the mountain to earn our turns in the amazing alpine cannot get any better. However, sometimes you just want to make some turns – and a lot of them! In that case, keep the skins at home for a day and treat yourself to some amazing lines in the pristine area of Jones Pass proper and the North Fork area. For those of you contemplating a guided snowcat trip, I cannot say enough good things about this operation. The amount of combined avalanche, snow safety, and ski patrol knowledge in this group of guides is amazing. This isn’t a fly-by-night snowcat operation, rather one of the best guided snowcat tours you will find in the state.
Snow study is a complex science, one that is even more complex in the Continental snowpack of Colorado. Many of the same principles of snow safety and monitoring that take place in resorts are also practiced by the guides of Powder Addiction. To accomplish this, a baseline approach of monitoring the snowpack early in the season is carefully logged from snow study sites throughout the operating area. This data is monitored throughout the season so that they have a good idea of what is going on in the snowpack. While there is no fail safe way to prevent slides from happening in avalanche terrain, you can be assured you have some top-notch guides watching your back. When used in conjunction with current avalanche forecast and conditions, the hazards are greatly mitigated. This is just another example of the behind the scenes preparations that take place with this crew.
Put together, the guides at Powder Addiction have a lot of combined knowledge – probably more than you would typically see in a snowcat operation. This vast knowledge enables the guides to make careful decisions on lines so that guests can have the maximum experience travelling some amazing soft, fresh snow. The operation is calculated, professional, efficient, and most of all, fun.
As with most people that spend time in the backcountry, a certain code of ethics comes in to play. This crew is no exception and they have a great deal of respect for not only other users in the area, but also the natural resources. It goes without saying, but it should be mentioned here.
What you can expect: An easy rendezvous with the snowcat at either the trailhead, or in Winter Park and a quick shuttle to the trailhead. From there you will travel up to some amazing alpine terrain. If the visibility is good, and wind is calm you will be able to drop from 12,000 feet in either the Jones Pass proper area, or the North Fork. But not to worry, there are lots of options that this crew knows about through the trees too. Lunch is provided, as is a cool complimentary stainless water bottle. The best part of course, is the amazing terrain you will experience. For us it was fresh lines all day long. Quite an amazing day!
In all I would highly recommend anyone wanting a full day of catching fresh lines in the backcountry to look in to Powder Addiction – you will not be disappointed!
Powder Addiction has wrapped up for the 2013 season. However, when the flakes start flying next season you know where to find a top-notch snowcat operation.
Based in Winter Park, you can find them online at powderaddiction.com
I will let the photo gallery speak for itself.