Variables – Powder Mountain Snowcats

By Jesse Huffman

Not many people can claim that they own a resort just down the road from their house. But not many people have the amount of love and dedication to powder that Ken Achenbach does. And powder is at the top of his list for reasons why he co-purchased Powder Mountain Snowcats.
“It took every penny we had,” Achenbach says, explaining the purchase of PMC. “But we knew it could be successful because we knew how rare it was to get a good full day of untracked powder anywhere outside of heli-sking anymore.”
Achenbach, together with legendary Canadian pros Don Schwartz and Doug Lundgren, bought PMC in 2004 from Berto Corso. Economically, it made good sense compared to the exorbitant price of heli-sking-Achenbach knew he had a product that was priced to move. And price wasn’t the only selling point; Achenbach was plenty familiar with the quality of the terrain. PMC was started in 1992 by Corso as a tour operation for film crews. Achenbach says, “When you see a photo labeled ‘Whistler Backcountry,’ nine times out ten it was shot at PMC.” He’s not joking, just check the October TWS cover of Tadashi Fuse shot by Dice-K-location: PMC.
PMC is divided into two areas: Tricouni and Cypress. Tricouni features 2,000-vertical-foot tree runs, while the high Alpine Cypress area tops out with 3,800 feet of vertical. Then there’s the snow. Even though PMC is located only twenty minutes south of Whistler, it’s privy to a separate storm system. In January ’06, when Whistler/Blackcomb clocked in with 25 feet of snow, PMC received 50.
Daily ops at PMC start with a 7:00 a.m. van pickup at the Coast Whistler Hotel, followed by breakfast where riders are introduced to their guides. Vans take the guests to the PMC base lodge at the bottom of Tricouni Mountain, where riders suit up and jump in one of the fourteen-person cats for the initial 45-minute climb up into the mountains. The ratio of people to vertical feet is 36 to 7,000-you’re not likely to run across anyone else’s tracks.
Achenbach says, “It’s so cool riding with pro snowboarders all the time. You see the future before anyone else. What’s even cooler and even more fun is riding with people who have never had a day like the one they’re having in their life. It reminds me of what I like best about snowboarding-it isn’t about who is the raddest or who is the coolest, it’s all about buckling in, pointing it down the hill, and letting it flow.”
Amen, brother. For more info, check out Powder Mountain Snowcat’s Web site, Huffman

(“It’s all about buckling in, pointing it down the hill, and letting it flow.”-Ken Achenbach)