The only thing more sublime than skiing completely untracked backcountry powder on a sunny day… is not having to walk uphill to get to it. I was treated to such a thing by my friend’s Jeff and Claire, who invited myself and another friend, Heather, for a day of guided backcountry catskiing with Powder Addiction in the Jone’s Pass area.
The first lap was mellow, but super fun and gave us a good idea of what Powder Addiction had in store for us on the day.
Though we were catskiing, there was still some walking to be done to get to the goods. Powder Addiction did a great job of assessing everyone’s ski abilities and risk tolerance, as well as showing us great lines while keeping us safe.
As we settled in to the rhythm of cat ride, walk, ski, repeat we started getting in to more complex and untracked terrain. After a few laps we were able to start opening it and ripping the slopes.
For our last run of the day, Powder Addiction took us to a line they had dubbed “Slayer” or some such nonsense. The line hadn’t yet been skied this season, the snowpack wasn’t stable enough prior to us getting on it. We’d had some recent snow, but the warming temps of March and letting it settle for a few days allowed the conditions to be prime.
It’s not the steepest line I’ve ever dropped in to, but it was by no means shallow. With a tapered cornice overhanging the bowl-shaped line, it was super aesthetic as well as super fun.
The photographer that took all of these photos, Hans Berg, was tragically killed by an avalanche in March 2019 while working with Powder Addiction, just barely a year after we skied with the outfit. It was an awful accident, and I won’t armchair quarterback the event or the decisions that were made prior to the avalanche. But I will say this: always check the avalanche forecast, know your own and your partner’s risk tolerances, make good decisions, and stay safe out there.