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Guided, backcountry cat skiing tours will be offered this spring in Mineral Basin at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort.

Half-day tours will cost $300 in the Snowcat Skiing for Nature program, so named because proceeds will go to the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation and the Wasatch Water Legacy Partnership, a public/private partnership designed to improve the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and Salt Lake City's drinking water supplies.

This is the first time since Mineral Basin opened in 2000 that Snowbird has offered guided cat skiing in that bowl, said resort spokeswoman EmilyMoench, noting that participants "must be expert skiers in physical condition for high altitude exertion in variable snow and weather conditions."

Half-day sessions begin with breakfast and an orientation at the Forklift restaurant at the Snowbird Center. The group then gets to ski in Mineral Basin before the lifts open to the public. After that, snowcats take participants to the backcountry terrain and aspen glades of Miller Hill and the north-facing slopes of Mineral Basin, Moench said.

The fee includes a daily lift ticket. Some skis-on hiking is required, she noted, and all participants must wear avalanche beacons, which can be provided by the resort.

Advance registration is required for individuals and private groups of up to 10 people, said snowcat guide Spencer Storm. To sign up, call 801-947-8222 or go to the Snowbird Mountain School office on the plaza deck. —

Snowcat skiing

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