Silverton Powdercats Cat Skiing Colorado
Silverton Powdercats was formerly called El Diablo Snowcat Skiing. El Diablo translates to “the devil” and considering that there is absolutely nothing hellish about this cat ski operation, it was re-named in 2009. This guided backcountry skiing operation is now called Silverton Powdercats and it’s heaven for any powderhound.
Skiing at Silverton Mountain
is pretty good, but Silverton Powdercats has many advantages over Silverton Mountain. At Silverton Mountain, hikes of 30 to 45 minutes are generally required, which can be arduous at elevations of 13,000 plus feet; oxygen anyone?! For those who don’t want to spend time and energy hiking up a mountain and would prefer to spend more time going downhill, cat skiing at Silverton Powdercats is the perfect alternative.
Similarly skiing at the nearby ski resorts of Durango (Purgatory)
sure beats a day at work, but the experience pales into insignificance in comparison to cat skiing where there are fresh tracks galore.
Inexpensive accommodation can be found in the nearby town of Silverton, and the quiet mountain town provides a unique Colorado experience that isn’t “resortified”. There might not be a lot of nightlife or dining options, but getting away from it all is part of the experience.
Cat Skiing and Boarding Packages
SILVERTON POWDERCATS DAY CAT SKIING
Cat Skiing in the heart of the San Juans
From price based on single cat skiing day per person.
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Ability: Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
In close proximity to other ski areas and really close to Silverton Mountain, Silverton Powdercats provides the opportunity to combine some lift accessed skiing with cat skiing. More
- Full day of guided snowcat skiing (10-12 runs)
- Use of avalanche beacon
- Lunch on the mountain
Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Dec 16 - Apr 14, 2017
Where is Silverton Powdercats Located?
Silverton Powdercats is off the beaten track somewhat, but this is what makes the experience special. Amongst the San Juan Mountains, this cat ski operation is located amongst the ski mecca region of southwest Colorado, dubbed the Powderhounds Corner of Colorado. Silverton Powdercats is a 10 minute drive (6 miles / 9.6km) south of the town of Silverton, 20 minutes north of Durango Mountain Resort
, and about 1.5-2 hours from Telluride ski resort
The cat ski operation is on highway 550 atop Molas Pass, and the access road from either direction is windy and sometimes challenging in snowy conditions. Occasionally the pass is closed.
There are three regional airports in the area: Durango-La Plata County Airport; Montrose Airport and Telluride Regional Airport. Flights primarily originate from Denver, but there are also flights from other cities such as NYC, Atlanta, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.
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Silverton Powdercats Terrain
Thousands of acres of the backcountry wilderness are on offer, where the chance of crossing others tracks is kept to a minimum. There is lots of mellow terrain for powderhounds on the “L” plates as well as more challenging terrain for experienced powderhounds. The terrain includes chutes, tree skiing and bowls, and unlike many other cat ski operations, much of the terrain is only sparsely populated with trees or above the tree line.
A standard day with Silverton Powdercats includes about 9-14 runs, so you’ll finish the day feeling very satisfied.
Silverton Powdercats Terms & Conditions
Refund & Cancellation 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.
All reservations are transferable (i.e., you can re-sell or give your spot to someone else). If you can’t make it and find someone to take your spot, great! Please let us know 24 hours before your trip if someone else will be taking your spot. You are responsible for reimbursement from the person taking your place, we will not issue you a refund.
Please make sure that you understand our Minimum Guest Policy (below) 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.
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.
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.
Minimum Skier / Rider Policy
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.
Powderhounds Review of Silverton Powdercats
Silverton Powdercats Cat Skiing Review
The Powderhounds became Powdercats for the day to review Silverton Powdercats (formerly El Diablo Snowcat Skiing) and to prove that dogs and cats can in fact get along.
The review covers different aspects of their operation and you can determine if Silverton Powdercats is likely to align with your priorities. That being said, the cat skiing is incredibly enjoyable so you’ll have an awesome time regardless of your priorities!
- There’s a high probability of getting lots of skiing and boarding in with Silverton Powdercats. The cat track system is really efficient and the snowcat seems to be super charged. It powers up steep slopes that you wouldn’t think possible, and the chances of waiting for the cat at the bottom of the runs are slim.
- Considering that the operation is based atop Molas Pass, there’s only a short cat ride to get to the top of the first run. The last run of the day is skied down to the parking lot, so there are no long cat rides up or down the mountain. Apart from lots of vertical, an associated benefit is that the cat ski day doesn’t have to start at an ungodly hour and you can enjoy your Zzzzs a bit longer.
- Silverton Powdercats cater well to strong intermediate powder skiers and boarders.
- The guides are very entertaining!
- Powder ski or board hire is not included in the rates, nor available at Silverton Powdercats. Fat skis would be very beneficial for most skiers, especially considering the sometimes crusty snow, but it’s a little inconvenient to hire powder skis. There’s a ski shop in Silverton that has a few pairs of fat skis, or you could hire some from Silverton Mountain (only open Thursday to Sunday). The other option is to get ski rentals at Durango Mountain Resort.
- The actual acreage of the ski area is unknown, but it’s not particularly big. There may not be adequate terrain to keep advanced and expert riders entertained for more than a couple of days of cat skiing.
Notes Regarding Review
|Silverton Powdercats don’t provide an annual snowfall statistic (which may mean that they do measure it and are not proud of it, or they don’t measure it which means they are not monitoring their snowpack with precision). However if the amount of snowfall is anywhere in the realm of the neighbouring Silverton Mountain, then quantity of snowfall shouldn’t be an issue. And ditto for snow quality, so after a fresh snowfall, Silverton Powdercats should absolutely rock. However if it hasn’t snowed for a few days, the lack of trees to protect the powder can be a problem. When we visited, much of the snow in the open areas was rather crusty.
|It’s tricky to categorise the alpine terrain versus the tree skiing at Silverton Powdercats. One hundred plus years ago some super annoyed Ute Indians allegedly set the forest on fire as a parting gift to the whites. Now there are areas completely devoid of trees or with only the occasional tree. In other areas the trees are really widely spaced apart with a smattering of little Xmas trees, so it’s not tree skiing in its truest sense. The openness is fantastic for strong intermediates, with plenty of room for error. The downside of this can be that the snow is exposed to the elements.
|Proportionally Silverton Powdercats has a lot of “alpine terrain”, much
of which is suitable for strong intermediates. However the overall
terrain size is not particularly large so the alpine terrain lacks some
|Strong Intermediate Terrain
|Mellow terrain is an absolute strength of this cat skiing operation. With wide open gentle slopes and the occasional steeper pitch, powde skiing intermediates will be in absolute heaven. Five out of five for
this category would have been awarded if the overall terrain size was larger.
|The “real” tree skiing rocks, but there’s not enough of it. The open areas are plenty of fun for speed demons and there are interesting terrain features such as rocks and lips for some air time.
|Expert & Extreme Terrain
| Not rated
|(No rating) In the upper areas they have some hike-to terrain that is definitely for experts only. Commonly the snowpack during the regular season isn’t conducive to super steep skiing, but in spring this is a possibility so long as you book out the whole cat with your fellow expert riders.
|The size of the terrain is stated as “thousands of acres”. It’s not particularly large, especially in comparison to San Juan Ski Co down the road, or BC cat skiing operations. There’s not an abundance of variety and fresh tracks are not necessarily guaranteed. On the plus side, all the slopes have continued gradient right down to the cat track so there are no boring run-outs.
|| Not Rated
|(No rating) We were unable to review this component as we went out with Powdercats on an informal day without specific guiding. However it’s definitely possible to state that you’ll have a very entertaining day. You’ll hear lots of great stories and go home with a new vocabulary!
|The Piston Bully snowcats are fast and whizz up the slopes, and combined with the efficient cat track system, you’ll never have to wait for the cat. They also have a backup cat in the unlikely event of mechanical issues.
The internal cabin set up is good for socialising as it’s well insulated. One row of the seats faces backwards which can be a little uncomfortable when travelling up the steep hills. There is no heating in the cat, but this probably won’t be an issue. If anything it’s probably more likely to be too warm and they often travel with the back door open, so don’t fall out!
|Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
|One could only assume that Silverton Powdercats have safety protocols and avalanche mitigation strategies, because these are not evident on their website or during the experience. This seems to indicate that
they do not take pride in their approach to safety or the qualifications of the guides. This is reasonably common amongst Colorado cat skiing and other USA operations where there is not the same degree of industry regulation as found with Canada cat skiing.
|Silverton Powdercats are up there as providing one of the best lunches in the business! They fashion together a table and bench seats which is rather luxurious. Lunch consists of chips, cookies and DIY gourmet sandwiches with a range of beautiful meats, freshly cut salad ingredients, and yummy condiments including mustard that will knock your socks off. The fresh sandwiches definitely beat the soggy ones you normally get when cat or heli skiing! Strangely they don’t provide any water.
Other than the lovely lunch this is largely a no frills cat ski operation with a tent where you’ll start the day to sign waivers, no après or photography session to end the day, and no provision of powder skis.
|Value For Money
|This cat ski operation would be fantastic value for money if they included powder skis. Nevertheless it’s still reasonably priced, and the Monday to Wednesday rate is an absolute bargain basement special!
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. We acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different and the ratings are from our perspective only.
For information on the factors considered in the review, and to compare the Silverton Powdercats ratings to other cat ski operators, see our cat ski ratings