It’s snowing in Colorado, again. And it’s not too late to get a shot at the powder days you promised yourself this season. At the very least, spring corn and an escape from everyday resort riding are what you’ll find at Monarch Snowcat Tours this time of year.

Call me “old,” or call me “soft;” I admit that I’m slowly becoming a quality-over-quantity type of snowboarder. Not to mention I live at an elevation of eighteen feet and I spend more time riding The Angry Interns(tm) than I do the stacks of boards in my garage, so hiking for turns at twelve-thousand feet isn’t as appealing as it once was.

I learned to ride in Southern California, but I learned to ride powder at Monarch … in 1987. During late fall, and before the resort was open for the season, Brian Delaney and I hiked the runs off of Lower Tango, like North Forty and Tele Alley. We had only one board-my Burton Performer Elite 150-and we traded off taking runs of about ten turns.

Monarch hasn’t changed too much since then-in a good way. It still seems to have more snow than anywhere else (with 0% snowmaking), and it’s still a place where you can get back to the basics of shredding pow with a few friends on almost any day of the week. Just a handful of fixed-grip lifts access the mountain’s 800 acres of terrain.

Newer to the resort is the access we never had back in the day. A twelve-person snowcat now takes riders out a ridge, opening the door to 900 more acres of generally steeper runs, chutes, glades, a cliffs, and even more untracked powder.

A typical day of riding with Monarch Snowcat Tours means no crowds, good company, and a worthwhile extension of the resort-riding experience. A good (and not uncommon) day in the cat is like a mini heli experience. There’s no hurry because there’s no one else to track it out.

Compared to Colorado’s other snowcat operations, runs at Monarch are steeper, but a little bit shorter. Short runs mean quick pick-ups and ten- to twelve runs a day. The terrain goes from open chutes with good slope angle to glades filled with surprises of the cliff-like variety.

For only 220 dollars per person, this is one of the best deals in shredding. Fill the cat with eleven of your closest friends, time it right, and Monarch Snowcat Tours makes for a memorable day-one you’ll want to repeat every season.

Check Monarch’s Web site for snow conditions before you go. The resort closes for the season on April 9, 2007.

skimonarch.com