Snowcat Skiing + Boarding
San Juan MountainsThe San Juan Ski Company provides Snowcat Skiing and Snowboarding in the rugged and remote San Juan National Forest of Southwestern Colorado. Intermediate, advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders can now explore this fabulous backcountry terrain with the San Juan Ski Company. Based at Durango Mountain Ski Resort, we are only 30 minutes from Silverton Mountain Ski Area and 2 hours from both Telluride and Wolf Creek Ski Resorts.
With 35,000 acres of breathtaking terrain in the heart of the West San Juan Mountains, The San Juan Ski Company is Colorado's largest Cat Skiing operation. Escorted by our experienced guides, guests will find untracked bowls, chutes, ridges, glades and treed slopes in an area that receives between 20 and 30 feet of snow each season. Elevations in our permit area range from 8,800 at Durango Mountain Resorts base to 12,500 feet at the summit of Greyrock Peak.
Our skiers and riders are transported by powerful Bombardier BR 400+ snowcats with custom designed, totally enclosed and heated coaches. The snowcat rides of 15-30 minutes between runs gives you time to relax, clean off your goggles, and keep warm. And, unlike heli-skiing the snowcat always goes regardless of the weather. Even on the stormiest of days you'll be out enjoying the fresh powder.
All Snow Cat guests need to meet at the San Juan Ski Company counter at 8:00 a.m. for orientation, and to sign a liability release form. Our counter is located inside with Gold Metal Sports located on the plaza level of the Purgatory Lodge at Durango Mountain Resort.
|Private Cat Rental (up to 12 guests)||$3500*|
Season: December 1st to May 7th
Price includes lunch, snack, powder skis/snowboards, avalanche safety gear, (BCA Tracker beacon, shovel and shovel pack), souvenir water bottle and water. Rates do not include gratuity. We do not provide boots.
To sign up for this trip, choose a trip from the option box and press the submit button above. You will then be presented with dates that are available. Once you are registered, you will get a confirmation email from San Juan Ski Company for your trip.This Backcountry Adventure requires that you be
A proficient skier or snowboarder - comfortable on advanced or expert runs.
In good physical condition.
Prepared for a variety of high mountain snow and weather conditions.
Responsible for all personal gear.
Please make your reservations early.
All Snow Cat guests need to meet at the San Juan Ski Company counter at 8:00 a.m. for orientation, and to sign a liability release form. Our counter is located on the 2nd level of the Village Center at Durango Mountain Resort.
Skip the lift lines and eat your lunch at 12000 feet.
"If you enjoy snowboarding serious powder, this is the trip for you. My father and I took the cat up for the day over Christmas break, and it was perhaps the greatest experience ever!"
What level of skiing ability is required?
You should be a comfortable intermediate skier or above and able to ski in control. We provide wide powder skis, not only will it make the transition to powder skiing easier and more enjoyable but you won't tire you as quickly.
What happens if some skiers are better than others?
We ski as one group. If there is a difference in skiing abilities within the group, the sweep guide will do his or her best to find an easier route for those that need it. If you are concerned about holding up other skiers or are concerned about being held up, consider renting the entire cat for your own private group (12 max). If you know how everyone skis/boards, you won't have to worry about the pace. SJSC reserves the right to ask less proficient skiers to sit out some runs if they are consistently holding up the group and affecting the experience for the other guests.
What happens if the weather is bad on the day of my trip?
Unlike helicopter skiing the snowcat can run on snowy or cloudy days.
What is the terrain like?
Our terrain is so large and varied, you will find every type of skiing and boarding imaginable. Above tree line bowls, gladed meadows, cliffs, cornices, chutes, gullies, trees and even a natural half pipe. You name it we got it.
How big are the groups?
Minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12.
How many runs per day?
6 to 12 depending on the groups ability and fitness levels.
Do we need to bring food?
No, we supply lunch and beverages.
What kind of clothing is best?
Guests are on the mountain all day long and should be dressed for cold weather. Layering clothes is advisable so that extra layers may be removed and left with the snowcat. Goggles should be double lens and anti fog. An extra pair of gloves is a good idea. Don't forget the sunscreen.
Where do you ski?
Our 35,000 acres of permitted terrain is located north of Durango Mountain Resort in the West San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado. We are only 25 miles from Silverton Mountain and 90 miles from Telluride and Wolf Creek Resorts.
What is the schedule for a typical day?
We meet at our counter on the 2nd level of the Village Center at Durango Mountain Resort (Purgatory Ski Resort) ready to ski at 8:00 am. Upon checking in you will sign a Release of Liability form and pick up your ticket. Your guide will conduct an important safety meeting, which will include information about the day's weather, avalanche hazard, snowcat safety and backcountry protocol. At 8:30 am we will load the chairlift for the ride to the snow cat. During the cat ride you will be issued an Ortovox avalanche transceiver, a shovel pack, and will be instructed in their use.
Are there any age restrictions?
Yes, we cannot accept anyone under 12 years of age.
The morning sky sparkles with remnants of last night's snow. The early morning alpenglow has left the high peaks and everyone is feeling the anxiety of being at the bottom of the mountain on a powder day. The group is listening to the guide as he explains the use of avalanche transceivers, but attention is divided. Some attention is focused on that ache for that first turn. Some attention is focused on the other members of the group - strangers sizing up strangers before spending the day in a shared experience. Then the guide brings the attention back to the task at hand - back country protocol.
The chair lift isn't moving fast enough - the first chair lift of the day never does. Exiting the chair and being on the snow chases some of the anxiousness away. The ski to the snowcat rendezvous is not exciting, but it is relaxing. At the 'cat' the guides and the driver are smiling and joking.
The snowcat is warm and comfortable, and soon the conversation and the scenery chases away the desire for instant 'beam-me-up' powder gratification. A window is opened and the clear fresh mountain air fills the cat. The guides are deciding if the warm up run will be on 'The Milk Run' or in ' Bubba's Bowl.' Suddenly the 'cat' slows, makes a big looping turn, and comes to a stop. Eyes seem to brighten and smiles widen.
The Milk Run
a sparsely treed glade of mostly medium angle, with a 5 foot base holds a topping of more than twelve inches of soft, dry powder. The group floats down through the trees. An occasional 'whoop' and more than a few giggles float up into the clear blue mountain sky. One skier barrels off the last roll and hits the cat road a little too straight on, earning big style points with a world class face plant. The rest of the group is quiet until he emerges from the snow grinning goggle strap to goggle strap.
The ride back up is filled with laughter and smiles. The guides are happy with the group's ability. The 'cat' climbs past the first drop off where the road skirts the edge of a steep pitch. The 'cat' lists to right, producing nervous smiles from the group. The guides, more acquainted with the roads and the 'cat's' ability, are unaffected. The 'cat' drops its passengers at the top of 'The Upper Glades' This run faces more to the north and is steeper and deeper. The trees are well spaced and there are rolls and big, soft looking bumps, providing the opportunity for 'air' and soft landings. And so the day goes - one fabulous run after another - "One legged Harry's , Short Eddie's, Pasture Creek, STS." Afraid of missing out on any turns at all, the group decides to eat lunch in the 'cat' on the way back up. Fueled by fresh deli sandwiches and soft drinks, the skiers carve up the afternoon into big soft floating turns and face shots.
At four o'clock the group, tired but wanting more, is dropped off at the edge of Purgatory Ski Resort. Although they are back on 'the groomed, ' the ski out and down to the base area is the proper way to end a perfect day of skiing.
Our trips leave promptly. If is unfair to other guests to have them wait for stragglers. Make good lodging decisions. And call if you have questions. Don't trust the guy in the bar.
Durango is 30 minutes from the ski area. It may take over an hour of travel time in bad weather.
Wolf Creek and Pagosa Springs are 2 hours away, longer if it is snowing.
If you choose to stay in Silverton, remember that the passes close constantly in winter.
If you think you can get here from Telluride, think again. In the winter it is at least a 4 hour drive, and you have 3 11,000 foot passes to cross, which are mostly closed. The route through Dolores is your best bet and rarely closes. You will not be refunded unless you call us at least 24 hours in advance.
You can search all the trips that we offer:
In the rare case that your trip must be cancelled due to circumstances outside of your own (e.g. mechanical, weather, poor skiing conditions or minimum group size not met) we will work with you to reschedule for no extra fees. If rescheduling is not possible, you will be reimbursed the total amount of your purchase. We do not provide refunds for health-related issues or cancellations due to family emergencies or injuries. We reserve the right to cancel a package at any time and full refunds will be given in full.
We also guarantee powder. If we cannot deliver the “goods,” we will cancel and refund your trip. (We like to ski powder as much as you do.)
In the unlikely event that the trip is cut short due to circumstances outside of your own (e.g. mechanical, weather, injury) we will prorate the day based on the # of runs that were completed. Any refund will be applied as a credit towards another snowcat trip. We cannot be held responsible for any client’s personal inconvenience or travel expenses.
If you cancel your reservation outside of 14 days you will forfeit a $50 handling fee per seat reserved. If you cancel within 14 days, you will lose 50% of the cost of the trip. If you cancel within 3 days, you will lose 100% of the cost of the trip.
Please understand our cancellation policy and respect our mutual commitment. We are reserving seats on our snowcats for you and your group, turning away potential guests on the day of your reservation. The San Juan Ski Company reserves the right to cancel trips at which time a full refund will be given to guests.