Go: Irwin Cat Skiing

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Re_Cat

Words: Pip Hunt

Photos: Re Wikstrom

A gloved finger etches a penis on a foggy window, then hastily circles it and slashes a line through the center. It’s almost as if our Tucker snow cat is filled with sixteen year-old boys. Rather than baseball, Alfalfa, and a “no girls allowed” sign, this moving clubhouse is filled tutus, sparkles and a pink wig. Pop music blares through the speakers and an old school ski film skitters across the big screen in front of us—though no one pays attention. Hannah Whitney, Utah Regional Director for SheJumps, gets down in the middle of the spacious cat. Before long, the entire snowcat bounces as seven women dance to “Call Me Maybe”. I’m not even through my first cup of coffee yet.

We’re heading up a snowy Kebler Pass, the unpaved summer road that connects Crested Butte to the rest of the Western Slope. Ten miles outside the funky, prayer-flag-draped ski town lies the Movie Cabin, the base for all of Irwin Catskiing’s daily adventures.

While Crested Butte is known for its low snow pack, steep pitches and rocky terrain, locals have always known that the “donut hole” weather pattern leaves only the Butte bare. Irwin regularly receives two to three times more snow than Mt. Crested Butte every storm. It receives more than 600 inches annually, making it a leader for Colorado ski area snow totals.

I slurp the dregs of my coffee before stepping out of the cat, taking in the panoramic view of the Elk Mountains and the minuscule movie cabin. We crowd inside the former Hollywood Western film prop and spread out around the fire to boot up for a day of skiing.

Re_Powder

Guides can make or break the catskiing experience; but Megan Poden, CB local, mom, ski patroller, and guide extraordinaire greets us with more flair than we arrived with. Her hot pink wig, black tutu, and sassy ways set the precedent—things are about to get ridiculous.

Luckily, these ladies at SheJumps, a 501-c3 non-profit organization aren’t afraid of having fun. SheJumps challenges women to reach their fullest potential through outdoor adventures. This trip wasn’t about luxury lodging, and delicious food though; it was about the terrain and initiating a new SheJumps chapter in the Gunnison Valley. It was about introducing more women to a safe backcountry skiing environment, skiing pow, and challenging each other to break free of our comfort zones.

Six inches of fresh waited us at the top, and the cat was stacked with snacks and beverages. Our guides cranked the tunes up between each lap. We chased each other through lines of fresh soft snow on “2D or Not 2D,” sent the “Outer Limits,” and played through the endless, rolling terrain of “Long.”

Re_Huck

“The terrain seemed endless,” Hannah gushed afterwards. “I’ve been out here touring before when I lived in the valley, but all of my surroundings seemed so much more accessible with the cat. I’m going to be dreaming about getting back here to ski more!”

But the real fun started every time the cat door closed. We laughed, and had a really, really, really good time.

“I think we just set the precedent for fun,” Kyra Martin, Director of Admin for Irwin stated at the end of the day. “Irwin sees a ton of male clients, but we’ve never had a cat full of women. We wanted to bring in SheJumps to show that women need adventure too!”

Details:

Website: Irwincolorado.com

Contact: Info@Irwincolorado.com

Prices: $500 per day

1000+ Acres of Terrain

10,000-15,000 vertical feet of skiing per day

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