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Snow Cat Skiing

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/19/2007 | Sports

What in the world is snow cat skiing? Are you picturing yourself hanging on tight as a giant snow cat drags you around on skis? Well, thats not what snow cat skiing is exactly. Instead, it is pretty much the same as heli-skiing, except it is cheaper and more reliable, since snow cats are not affected by the weather.

Here is how it works. You ride inside of a snow cat that takes you to a specific destination, which is determined by the snow cat operator and/or company. When you arrive at that destination, you get out of the snow cat and you ski unmarked, untracked terrain that is not accessible by any means other than a snow cat or helicopter. The snow cats are heated, and typically seat ten to twelve people, including the operator and at least one guide, and possibly two guides.

Snow cat skiing is only available in areas that get actual snowfall during the spring and winter, since these areas are inaccessible, and cannot be reached by man made snow machines. Snow cat skiing is associated with touring, because of the solitude one experiences while doing it. You dont have to deal with over tracked slopes or trails, long lift lines, or crowds of people.

While helicopters may be able to take you to higher altitudes, with that altitude comes higher risk, such as avalanche. Snow cats dont take you to higher altitudes; they just take you to better snow, where there are not crowds. In fact, the only people you will see are the people that go with you.

Heli-skiing can cost upwards of a thousand dollars for a day of skiing. Snow cat skiing costs anywhere from 300 to 600 for a day and this typically includes all transportation, lodging, meals, and the cost of the guide.

Also, while heli-skiing isnt always suitable for intermediate skiers, snow cat skiing almost always is suitable for intermediate skiers as well as advanced skiers. In fact, it can even be suitable for beginners who have the basics of skiing down, since it is most often done in a group with a guide.

Snow cat skiing offers skiers different views, different snow, and different challenges. This is essential when you get tired of skiing down the same trodden trails each day of your ski vacation. If you compare the cost of lift tickets to the cost of the snow cat, split among your entire group, you will find that the cost is comparable. If you are the only skier, of course, it is more expensive than purchasing lift tickets.

Overall, whether snow cat skiing is worth it to you or not will depend greatly on how much you desire those untracked trails that are away from the crowds. To some, the cost for such a treat is very low, and for others, it simply isnt something that they are willing to pay for. You have to decide for yourself, but one thing is certain snow cat skiing can become quite addictive very fast!