• Overall Rating
Aspen Powder Tours4.5 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
 
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing
Aspen Powder Tours - Aspen Snowcat Skiing

Aspen Powder Tours Cat Skiing

Cat skiing is the ultimate activity for a powderhound. The sight of all that fresh powder ready to be shredded is enough to get a powderhound smacking their chops!

With Aspen Powder Tours you have the opportunity to ski or snowboard lots of untracked stashes on the backside of Aspen Mountain. With a backcountry powder tour there are no lift lines, no hordes to elbow aside to get the freshies, and no hiking to get to the goods. A luxury snowcat takes you to the top of the primo terrain, and once the cat is away, the powderhounds can play!

The Aspen cat skiing tours meet at 8:15am in the Silver Queen gondola building at the base of Aspen Mountain. After a gondola ride to the top, the group is provided with a safety orientation by two guides before heading out in the snowcat.

Cat Skiing Package The package includes a full day of guided cat skiing, the lift ticket for gondola access, snacks and drinks throughout the day, and use of an avalanche beacon. A hearty gourmet lunch is also included which is served in a rustic cabin in the mountains.

The use of powder skis or a powder snowboard is highly recommended. These can be rented through Gorsuch or Pomeroy Sports across the street from the Silver Queen gondola.

Aspen Powder Tours - Day Cat Skiing Tours DETAILS
DAY SNOWCAT SKIING & BOARDING ASPEN
Ski the backside of Aspen
From price based on single day mixed group cat skiing
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 449
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
Escape from the moguls and masses in Aspen this winter with a day or more of cat skiing in Aspen's backcountry. With over 1,200 skiable acres you will be sure to get plenty of fresh tracks. These tours book up early so be sure to secure your spot asap. More
View inclusions
  • Full day of guided cat skiing (Approx 10,000 vert feet)
  • Use of avalanche beacon
  • Single ride gondola lift pass
  • Gourmet lunch, snacks & beverages
  • Max 12 guests per snowcat
Location: USA | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Dates
Days
From price based on single day mixed group cat skiing
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price
We try to keep the availability as accurate as possible however things can change regularly. The following statuses roughly equate to:
  • Available = 5 or more spots
  • Filling = 3 – 5 spots
  • Almost Full = 2 or less spots

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Availability
Nov 28 - Apr 16, 2016
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Where is Aspen Cat Skiing Located?

The powder playground is located on the backside of Ajax (Aspen Mountain), one of the four ski resorts of Aspen Snowmass. Aspen Mountain sits above the town of Aspen Colorado, 220 miles southwest of Denver.


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Aspen Powder Tours Terrain

The snowcat runs along Richmond Ridge, providing access to 1,200 skiable acres (486 hectares) of terrain that drops off either side of the ridge. This is almost twice the size of the Ajax terrain, and you only have to share all that powder with a handful of other riders.

The terrain covered each day depends on the snow and weather conditions, and the group’s expertise. Aspen Powder Tours recommend a ski school level 7 as a minimum, or a strong and athletic intermediate ability level or higher.

The cat skiing terrain largely consists of open meadows and bowls that have the occasional tree. The pitch is generally the equivalent of blue and black runs at the ski resort. For advanced riders, there are also some steeper slopes and tree skiing.

On average guests bang out 10 runs and 10,000 vertical feet (about 3,000 metres) of skiing or boarding each day. There is no cap on the number of runs and a fast competent group could get in many many more turns.

The elevation for most of the skiing and snowboarding is between 10,000 and 11,500 feet (3,000 to 3,500 metres), so the fine Rocky Mountain powder is kept pristine. And the backside of Aspen Mountain typically gets bigger dumps of snow than the ski resort, so there’s a high chance you’ll really be revelling in it!

Aspen Powder Tours Terms & Conditions

CANCELLATION POLICY
If Powder Tours has to cancel a tour due to snow conditions, the guest will receive a full refund. If a guest finds it necessary to cancel reservations, the following applies: the guest will be charged a $50 per/seat rebooking fee for reservations cancelled more than 48 hours prior to the tour.

OR

The guest will be charged 100% of the cost of the tour for reservations cancelled less than 48 hours prior to the tour unless Powder Tours is able to rebook the seat, in which case a $50 per/seat rebooking fee will apply.

TICKETS
A Powder Tour ticket is valid for three seasons. Anytime during those three seasons, or upon expiration, the value of any unused ticket may be placed in the lift ticket Aspen Snowmass Guarantee account. Complimentary ski school seats do not apply to the full-cat discount.

ASPEN SNOWMASS GUARANTEE
You will receive an internal monetary credit for the per-day value of any unused days on your lift ticket. Simply bring your ticket to any ticket office or call within 14 days of expiration to receive the credit. You may use your credit in the current season or the season immediately following towards future purchases of lift tickets, lessons or equipment rentals. Sorry, your credit may not be used for purchases of merchandise or food. You may transfer your monetary credit to someone else. Just let us know who is going to use the credit and we will put it in their name.

7 AM WAKE-UP CALL
The decision to initiate the 7am wake-up call for the following day’s reservation is at the sole discretion of the Powder Tours’ office. The 7am wake-up call is subject to the Aspen Mountain Powder Tours’ cancellation policy.

Aspen Powder Tours Cat Skiing Review

It’s the responsibility of a powderhound to sniff out powder, so it only seemed proper for the Powderhounds to check out Aspen Powder Tours. Riding fresh lines in the backcountry was so much more alluring than riding all those moguls at Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands, so how could a powderhound not go cat skiing with Aspen Powder Tours?

The day out with Aspen Powder Tours was soooo much fun. There was lots of woo hooing and it seemed almost illegal to have that much fun!! If you’re on an Aspen ski vacation, we can highly recommend a day out cat skiing with Aspen Powder Tours.

Cat skiing is an amazing powder skiing experience, but no cat ski operation is completely perfect for everyone. Our review aims to cover different components of the cat skiing experience so you can decide if Aspen Powder Tours is likely to suit your needs.

Pros

  • Any cat skiing is fantastic and the opportunity to go cat skiing in Aspen is absolutely fabulous. It makes the perfect adjunct to an Aspen ski vacation. Aspen Colorado is an awesome ski town that has a great buzz about it and has world class restaurants, a vibrant nightlife, remarkable shopping, and lots of other activities.
  • Aspen cat skiing is really well suited to strong athletic intermediate riders who want to get more experience riding powder. The terrain has lots of wide open meadows where you can let those boards rip!
  • The guides are really fun and will make sure that you have an amazing day!
  • Aspen Powder Tours are really honest about the snow conditions, and if they’re not superb they either don’t go out or they provide substantial discounts.
Cons
  • The terrain size is rather small relative to other cat skiing operations.
  • As is very typical of USA cat skiing, the runs are very short (only 1,000 vertical feet on average), especially when compared to BC cat skiing or Chile cat skiing, so the fun is over way too soon.
  • Experts will find the terrain rather tame, but they’re likely to have fun in the powder anyhow.
  • Safety as a priority is not conveyed to guests, but this isn’t to say they don’t operate under safe conditions.
See how Aspen Powder Tours cat skiing compares to other cat skiing ratings for North America and Chile.
Powder Snow

They don’t get bucket loads of snow relative to Canada cat skiing and some other USA cat skiing companies, but the quantity of snow is still more than enough and the quality of the powder that falls is generally very good. Much of the terrain doesn’t have the protection of trees, so sometimes the powder is left to the mercy of the sun and wind.
Overall Terrain
The terrain runs off the sides of Richmond Ridge, a north-south running ridge out the back of Aspen Mountain ski resort. It is mostly low angle sub-alpine terrain (open meadows with a few trees) and there are also some patches of tree skiing.

Whilst the terrain size is twice that of Aspen Mountain, APT has one of the smallest cat skiing tenures in North America. The average
USA cat skiing is 5 times the size, and the average Canadian operation is about 14 times the size. Small terrain results in guides having fewer options to choose from to find optimal snow quality, and the potential to ski over old tracks. To compound the issue, there may be ski tourers using the same terrain and Aspen Powder Tours run three snowcats simultaneously. They have just enough terrain to last for three days. After that they can’t guarantee fresh tracks, but to compensate for this they provide discounts.

The vertical per run is rather short and the average vertical per day is only about 10,000 feet, the equivalent of three top to bottom runs on Aspen Mountain. The amount of skiing is not so much dependent on the power of the snowcat or the efficient placement of the snowcat roads (which are both very good), but rather the speed of the riders in the group, and this cat skiing outfit typically attracts some slower skiers. Of course if you pull together your own group of speedy Gonzales, then the world is your oyster!
Alpine Terrain
Even though the terrain is largely sub-alpine, we’ll categorise it as alpine for the sake of simplicity. The terrain is far from intimidating. It is mostly mellow and wide and has a lovely fall line. The terrain doesn’t seem to vary much, and it’s largely devoid of chutes, rock bands or other features.
Tree Skiing
The area has patches of trees that are reasonably tight and provide some good challenges. Whether you get to play in the trees may depend on the ability level of others in the snowcat, although sometimes they divide the group in half so that advanced skiers can head into the glades.
Strong Intermediate Terrain

This is Aspen Powder Tour’s forte. The terrain is mostly low angle (so you can practise your powder 11s if you wish!), and trees, other obstacles, and features are few and far between. With all this wide open space, the terrain is perfect to get more experience riding powder. Most intermediates are also probably very happy that the runs don’t go on for miles and miles.
Advanced Terrain

The west terrain is a little more challenging than the main east terrain, although access to this area may be dependent on the ability level of others in the cat. The trees are also a good place for advanced riders to play.
Expert & Extreme Terrain

There are no gnarly steeps or chutes, and there are negligible cornices, rocks or cliffs to throw yourself off.
Guiding
Both the lead and tail guide were incredibly experienced, very amicable and loads of fun. They also gave everyone the confidence that they had everything under control, and as to be expected considering the small terrain, they knew the area like the back of their hand.

The guiding was very relaxed. They didn’t give many specific instructions about where to go, and on various occasions the tail guide was down below some riders. However considering the openness of the terrain this probably didn’t matter too much.

Snowcat
All their snowcats were reasonably new and the cabins very luxurious. There were steps up to the back to make it easy to get in and out, and the cabins were heated and nicely insulated so it wasn’t noisy. The seats were very comfortable, and there were little niceties like bottle holders, other storage, a sound system, and windows in the roof so that it was possible to fully appreciate the beautiful views.

The cabins had one row of seats that faced the rear but there were kick plates that folded up, so if your foot was on one of these, you didn’t end up on someone’s lap when going up the hill (damn)! This seating arrangement also made things more sociable.


In the unlikely event of mechanical issues, they also have a backup snowcat, so there’s no risk of getting left stranded out on the hill whilst awaiting repairs.
Avalanche Mitigation Strategies

It could be assumed that Aspen Powder Tours has various avalanche mitigation strategies and safety plans in place, but these were not at all evident to guests during the day. There was no discussion with the group about avalanche forecasting, no slope stability testing was undertaken, and guest safety packs were not provided. There’s also nothing on their website about it, which could indicate that it’s not a priority. This is very common amongst USA cat skiing operations where there is not the same degree of industry regulation found in Canada.

Part of the rationale for the imperceptible safety strategies may be related to the terrain. Apparently slides are very rare, which is not surprising considering the mellow gradient, so the same degree of vigilance may not be required.

Safety Briefing

As discussed above, the industry is unregulated, and like many other USA cat skiing operations, there wasn’t much emphasis on safety. The safety briefing went for about two minutes and covered topics such as not skiing too fast. The briefing didn’t include how to use an avalanche beacon, and nothing about snowcat hazards, what to do in the event of an avalanche, or tips for not getting lost. There was no practical component to the briefing, and they were also OK with guests wearing earphones whilst riding, or drinking alcohol at lunch.
Frills

Aspen Powder Tours provide a first class experience with respect to food, akin to what you’d expect for Aspen. Bottles of water and basic snacks were provided in the snowcat, whilst lunch was an extravagant affair for cat skiing which was held in a little cabin with a roaring stove. There were also tables and chairs outside the cabin (and even bathroom facilities). Thankfully there were no soggy sandwiches, but rather a buffet gourmet spread of cold items, soup, a hot hearty dish, brownies and coffee. Guests have been known to BYO a bottle of fancy champagne to top off the lunch experience. Unlike many other cat skiing companies, there’s no photo or video service, and no après ski session where you can look at the photos and high five about having an amazing day.
Value for Money

The cost of the cat skiing is well above the average price for USA cat skiing and the use of powder skis is not included in the price. However everything in Aspen costs more, so the rates are really quite reasonable. It may cost about 4 times as much as an Aspen Snowmass lift ticket for the day, but you get one hundred times the value!

Aspen Powder Tours ensure you get good value for money because they discount seats if they know that conditions aren’t primo or they can’t ensure freshies.

Notes Regarding Review The review is largely based on our experience, but also on discussions with staff, former guests, and information available on their website. Our review has some limitations as it’s not possible to ski every run and in all possible snow and weather conditions. Every guide is not the same and we acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different. The ratings are from our perspective only.

The photos are not taken using professional riders, but rather aim to show an example of a real experience.