Located high in the backcountry of the San Juan Mountain in Southwest Colorado near Silverton, Telluride and Durango, Silverton Powdercats’ wide variety of terrain allows us to pick and choose runs to satisfy everyone’s needs. Whether it’s ripping the steep faces of Big Mo, cruising wide open powder of Lime Creek or grooving in the trees of the Glade, our 6,000+ acres of terrain will bring a smile to everyone’s face. Hiking routes are available for those seeking a little more adventure. Click here for more info about our terrain, or see more details in our FAQ below.
We ask that all guests be able to ski or ride at an advanced-intermediate level. Our vast terrain offers an array of experiences allowing our knowledgeable staff to choose terrain that fits each group’s preferences. If you are concerned about holding up other skiers or boarders, or are concerned with being held up, consider a private cat and enjoy the day at your pace (10 person maximum).
Our day starts at 9:00 am with guest check-in. At this time guests will fill out paper work, settle any balances due and go through our safety orientation. Our goal is to leave our parking lot at 9:30 am with a short ride to our first run; no chairlift, to shuttle van to hour-long snowcat ride. We get you to the goods ASAP! From there we will tour our terrain searching out the best snow, averaging 9-14 runs per day depending on the group’s ability and conditions. We end our day by skiing our last run all the way back to our base of operation, no long cat ride home required, an attribute not many operations can tout! We try to end our day returning to home base between 3:30 and 4:00. A full lunch is provided (please let us know of any special diet needs) and served cat-side to keep you fueled for a full day of skiing and riding. Please bring a bottle or bladder of water for personal consumption. We will have limited water for refills as needed.
Avalanche beacons are provided for each guest as well as a full orientation to familiarize you with this equipment. We do not require our guests to carry probes and shovels, as we rely on our guides’ professional training and experience in backcountry procedures, in an emergency situation. You are more than welcome to bring your own shovel, probe or avy pack if you desire. Rockered / hybrid powder skis over 100cm underfoot and powder oriented snowboards are recommended, and may make your day much more enjoyable. Skis and snowboards are not provided, see the links page for local rental/retail options.
Be prepared for varied weather. We can start out the day bluebird and end in a whiteout, or vice versa, so plan accordingly. Extra googles / lenses (low and high light recommended) and a spare set of gloves is never a bad idea. Sunscreen highly recommended at high altitude. Again, please bring plenty of water.
Why Silverton Powdercats?
We can’t say enough about our terrain at Silverton Powdercats. With amazing views and a variety of aspects, we’re sure to have something for everyone, intermediate to expert. High elevations (11,000ft+) keep the snow cold and light, and a variety of aspects allow us to find quality snow, many days or even weeks after a good storm.
Our diverse group of professional guides is one of our biggest assets. Our knowledge and dedication to backcountry powder skiing and boarding ensure a safe and adventurous experience for you and your family. If you’re looking for the real tour of unfamiliar and awesome terrain, by local and friendly guides, then the Silverton Powdercats experience is for you.
Our day starts at 9:00 am with guest check-in. Our goal is to leave our parking lot at 9:30 am with a short ride to our first run; no chairlift, to shuttle van to hour-long snowcat ride. We get you to the goods ASAP! We are usually skiing in less than 15 mintues from the time we leave our base area. From there we will tour our terrain searching out the best snow, averaging 9-14 runs per day depending on the group’s desires. We end our day by skiing our last run all the way back to our base of operation, no long cat ride home required, an attribute not many operations can tout! We try to end our day returning to home base between 3:30 and 4:00. Lunch is provided and freshly prepared with high quality ingredient by our team of guides (please let us know of any special diet needs) and served cat-side to keep you fueled for a full day of skiing and riding that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Does SPC have a minimum guest policy?
Yes, we require a minimum of 5 people per cat to run a trip. We burn a lot of fuel running cats up and down the mountain, so we require at least 5 people per cat to make it worth the fuel costs.
If there are less than 5 people signed up on that day, we do not run a trip. If we do not meet our trip minimum on the day you have signed up, you can either reschedule or we will issue you a refund.
What is your payment policy?
We require 100% payment in full at the time of booking. Payment for Full / Private cats can only be made on up to 2 separate cards. Payments on more than 2 cards will be considered individual bookings and will not receive the discounted price. To split payment on two separate cards for full cat reservations, please call us.
What is your cancellation and refund policy?
You may cancel or change your reservation within 30 days of your trip. Cancellations prior to 30 days are subject to a 10% administration fee. We require payment in full at the time of your booking.
Please make sure that you have read through our this Details & FAQ Page as well as our Cancellation & Refund Policy and our Minimum Guest Policy before placing your order. We put this in multiple spots throughout the booking process, so please don’t call and say you did not see it. Failure to read our policies before booking is not our fault. We recommend purchasing trip insurance for your trip through any number of reputable insurance agencies.
Unless BOTH Molas and Red Mountain passes are closed, we will be skiing! If both passes are closed, please see our Refund Policy. If only one pass is open (Red Mountain usually closes first), then you are still expected to be there at 9am, so please plan accordingly.
All reservations are transferrable. If you cannot go and find someone to take your spot, then great! Please let us know 24 hours before your trip of any transfers. You are responsible for reimbursement from the person taking your place, we will not offer you a refund.
Double check the email confirmation to make sure that all of your contact and reservation information is correct. Please read thru all of the information below the reservation portion of the email as well as fully read thru our FAQ and Minimum Guest Policy before making your reservation. We cannot stress this enough. Thank you for understanding.
What time do I need to be there?
We ask our guests to please be at our parking lot by no later than 9am. We have a warming hut where you can put on your boots, sign waivers and get your avalanche beacon. After that we will do our safety speech, load the cat and be on our way up the mountain by 9:30am.
If you are coming from the North, please leave earlier than you think you need to as Red Mountain can be slow driving or have temporary delays due to avalanche control. If you are going to be late, please call us at 970-385-7288 to let us know.
What happens if there is a storm on the day of my trip?
Hopefully you’re excited about it! We live for fresh snow! Unless both Molas and Red Mountain passes are closed, we will be skiing! If only one pass is open (Red Mountain usually closes first), then you are still expected to be there at 9am, so please plan accordingly. If both passes are closed, please see our Refund Policy.
What is the skiing / terrain like?
Our varied terrain allows us to pick and choose runs to satisfy everyone’s desires. A lot of where we ski will be dictated by current snow conditions. We have what we consider to be the perfect cat skiing terrain. We have a variety of aspects that allow us to ski fresh powder for weeks after the last storm. A lot of our terrain is above tree-line, offering big, open faces to cruise, as well as a good selection of widely spaced pine forests that keep snow shaded and soft for days and even weeks on end.
Snow conditions will dictate exactly where we are able to ski on a day to day basis. This is true backcountry skiing and we are at will of Mother Nature. Typically, after a big storm, we stick to safer aspects (slightly lower angle faces, shorter steeps and tree lines). This is also typically when the powder skiing is the best. After the snow has a chance to settle for a few days, we can usually start working our way into steeper, bigger lines.
How many runs can I expect to make in a day with SPC?
You can normally expect 9 – 14 runs in a day, depending on the conditions and rider abilities. A major advantage of our terrain is its proximity to our base area. Once we leave our parking lot in the cat, we are skiing our first run within 15 minutes. At the end of the day, we ski all the way back to base. No long cat rides in or out, something that is quite unique to Silverton Powdercats!
Am I ready for backcountry snowcat skiing?
We ask that all guests be able to ski or ride at an advanced-intermediate level. Our vast terrain offers an array of experiences allowing our knowledgeable staff to choose terrain that fits each group’s preferences. If you are concerned about your ability, please call us to ask any specific questions you may have. You can also consider booking a private cat (up to 10 people per cat) if you are concerned about being grouped with other people above or below your ability level.
Are snowboarders welcome?
Absolutely! Please be sure to bring a powder or all mountain board.
Do you have steeps, cliffs or freestyle friendly terrain?
Yes! However, avalanche conditions dictate where we can ski on any given day. We play it safe and only push into the steeper stuff when the conditions allow. We are in the backcountry and don’t get nearly as much skier compaction as normal resorts, or even Silverton Mountain gets, so we have to play it safe. Even on less stable days, we can find plenty of fun terrain that even the most ardent chargers will enjoy. If you want to ski the REALLY steep and gnarly stuff (backcountry knowledge and cat-assist hiking required), we recommend contacting us about a custom trip in the spring when we can get into gnarlier terrain.
For freestyle lovers, some of the more rolling aspect runs in our terrain can make for great natural freestyle features and hits. If freestyle is your thing, let us know and we can let you know where some of our better features on each run are and how to hit them “safely”.
What should I bring for my day of powder skiing?
You will need to bring proper clothing (dress warm!) along with your own ski or snowboard equipment (see our links page for local rental shops). We highly recommend fat powder skis (100mm+ and rockered) or powder / all mountain snowboards. Ski poles with large powder baskets are helpful.
We will provide you with an avalanche beacon. You are not required to bring a shovel or probe, but feel free to do so. All of our guides carry shovels and probes at all times. Helmets are never a bad idea, but we do not require you to wear one. Space inside our snowcats is limited, so we ask that you please limit what you bring to one small sized day pack (not required). Please bring your own sunscreen, a bottle of water (we carry water on the cat as well), and some snacks. We provide a full lunch.
How should I dress for my day of snowcat skiing?
Our terrain is mostly at 11,000+ feet. Needless to say it can get cold. Dress as you would for a full day of skiing on a cold day at a ski resort. Wearing several layers of insulating garments underneath a shell gives you the freedom to adjust your clothes to changing weather conditions. During the cat ride, our snowcats keep you out of the elements when moving to and from each pick up to drop off. For those of you who want to bring a pack to store your layers or other gear, we ask to pack small and light. There is room in our cats to stash items, but space is limited.
Do I need fat skis?
YES! Fat powder skis are HIGHLY recommended as it makes your day that much more enjoyable. We recommend skis that are 100mm in the waist or larger. Rockered designs are also highly encouraged.
For snowboards, please bring the appropriate length backcountry, powder or larger all mountain board and mount your bindings as far back as you feel comfortable with.
Do you provide ski / snowboard rentals?
No, we require you to bring your own ski or snowboard gear. See our Links page for our recommended local ski / snowboard rental shops.
How big is the group I will ski with?
You will be skiing in groups of 5 to 10 guest with 2 on-snow guides per trip (plus a cat operator driving the cat).
How are the groups divided?
We group people based on availability. Most people willing to drop $400 on a day of cat skiing are experienced riders that won’t slow down or hold up a group. We screen our guests ahead of time with a checkout survey and encourage people who are not advanced intermediate riders to explore other options or to book a private cat. We VERY RARELY have someone make it up the hill that is under-experienced. If someone is truly hindering group progress, we will find a way to mitigate the situation.
What is the best time to come snowcat skiing?
Most seasons, prime conditions start in late December to early January and go all the way thru March. Some years we can run trips well into April.
While skiing during or directly after a storm often offers the deepest snow conditions, it also increases the avalanche hazard and limits the steepness of the terrain we can ski. As the snow settles, a week or so after a big storm, snow conditions begin to stabilize, and we start working our way into our steeper aspects. We are at the mercy of mother nature, so please check our current snow report or give us a call to inquire about current conditions.
What is the weather typically like?
Southwest Colorado is known for lots of sunny days and temperate weather, but it isn’t always that way, especially at 11,000 ft. We do have tons of bluebird days, but conditions can change at any time. We have a saying in CO, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” Weather can change quickly and without notice so please be prepared and bring ample layers. A spare set of gloves is never a bad idea.
Hows the drive from Telluride?
To be honest, it can be difficult. Red Mountain Pass is one of Colorado’s most difficult mountain passes that stays open year-round. With dry road conditions, the drive takes approximately 2 hours. Bad weather can easily add another hour. Red Mountain also closes down during dangerous avalanche conditions. For these reasons, we encourage people coming from Telluride or other locations from the north to stay in Silverton or Durango the night prior to their trip. Please see our Links page for recommendations on accommodations.
Unless both Red Mountain and Molas pass are closed, you are expected to be at our base area and ready to go by 9am. Please plan accordingly. No refunds will be given if only Red Mountain is closed.
What about road closures?
We are at the mercy of Mother Nature and CDOT, and occasionally Red Mountain (North of Silverton) and/or Molas & Coal Bank passes (South of Silverton) close due to avalanche conditions and block access to our location. Red Mountain is usually the first pass to close, so if you’re coming from Telluride or somewhere North, we recommend staying in Silverton the night before your trip if there has been significant snowfall the week prior.
If Red Mountain is closed, but Molas & Coal Bank are open, YOU ARE STILL EXPECTED TO BE THERE AT 9AM! Driving from Telluride to us thru Durango takes approx. 3 hours in good conditions.
If both Red Mountain and Molas Passes are closed, we won’t be running cats that day and will issue you a refund or rebook your trip at no cost. Please see our Cancellation Page for more info
Do you offer photography or videography services on your trips?
Yes. Please contact us for options, details and pricing. Photo / video services must be booked a week or more in advance of your trip.
What about gratuities?
Gratuities / tips are accepted in the guiding industry, including our cat skiing services. In general, a 15 – 20% gratuity is appreciated, similar to any service related industry and dependent on your budget. Our guides work very hard to make sure your day is as perfect as it can be and gratuities allow them to know that you’ve enjoyed the trip.
Are there restroom facilities?
No. We do have a Porta-John at our base area, but once we’re up on the hill, we’re out in the backcountry. For the ladies, privacy can always be created at the front of the snowcat. For more dire emergencies, we carry self-contained human waste (WAG) bags.
Are there any age restrictions?
Yes and no. If you are planning on coming by yourself without a legal guarding, you must be 18 years old.
If you are accompanying your child under the age of 18 and are confident in their abilities as an advanced intermediate skier that has experience in skiing deep powder snow, then we have no age restrictions. We’ve had 10 year olds who grew up skiing and are absolute rippers that had no problem skiing our terrain. Please use your parental judgement and call us if you have any questions or concerns.
What should I do if I require a special diet for medical reasons?
We make our lunches on the hill using fresh, quality ingredients (no pre-packed lunches here!) so we can make it to order and can accommodate most allergies or intolerances on the hill. If you have any concerns, please contact us before your trip.
How can I have someone contact me while I am skiing?
Telephone, cellular and 3/4G service is very spotty at both our base area and on the mountain. Please call 970-385-7288 and we will try our best to get in contact with trip as quickly as possible.