It’s full-on backcountry winter conditions in the Southern San Juan Mountains and the San Juan Ski Company, Colorado’s largest snowcat operation, is reaping the benefits of the bountiful snow that fell last week.
The storm that blew in February 2 kept on giving for four days. Almost a foot of snow fell Thursday night, followed by four inches Friday, four more on Saturday and eight inches Sunday night. The storm moved out Monday night, but more snow is predicted in this area later this week.
The 36,000 acres of terrain accessed by SJSC snowcats has received almost five feet of snow in the past three weeks. In fact, the area around Durango Mountain Resort, where the snowcat operation is based, has received so much snow that the SJSC has snowcat skiing bragging rights to the deepest base and best snow in the state.
Bob Rule, owner and lead guide, said snow conditions are better than they have been for almost eight years, due in part, to light winds. “We are skiing some terrain that we usually can’t ski since wind often blows the snow off these areas,” he said.
According to Rule, the backcountry terrain around his snowcat operation has received 130-plus inches this year.
The SJSC started the season with one of the deeper snowpacks in Colorado which allowed it to get its roads built before the warm, windy and dry spell hit the state and grounded all snowcat operations to a halt. The early snow also allowed the SJSC to open before than any other snowcat operation in the U.S.
Whereas several Colorado snowcat companies are still struggling to build roads or aren’t open due to lack of snow, The SJSC is guiding trips in all of its zones – including alpine bowls and lower elevation trees – seven days a week.
For details, visit www.sanjuanski.com