Keystone Adds Snowcat Terrain for Experts

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SAM Magazine-Keystone, Colo., Sept. 26, 2006-Keystone will open Independence Bowl, almost 300 acres of expert-only hiking and snowcat terrain south of the summit of Dercum Mountain, for the 2006-07 season. The U.S. Forest Service issued the final approval Sept. 21, just before early-season storms dropped more than a foot of snow on the resort. The addition of the Independence Bowl terrain expands the area to more than 3,000 acres.

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Keystone started offering backcountry-lite snowcat tours in the 2003-04 season in Bergman and Erickson bowls, an area within the resort's boundary just west of Independence Bowl and above the area's lift network. Instead of a 20- to 40-minute hike, guests of Keystone Adventure Tours board a heated snowcat with experienced guides. Independence Bowl complements the lower-angle reaches of its neighboring bowls.

Chuck Tolton, director of mountain operations for Keystone, said the expansion meets guest demand for more challenging terrain. "Keystone's guests have now asked for steeper, North-facing terrain they can access by hiking or by our guided snowcat tours," he said. "There's a demand for in-bounds 'backcountry-lite' skiing and riding . . . This expansion will offer an extraordinary and unique experience for our guests."

Keystone plans to open for the 2006-07 season on Nov. 10. Guided snowcat tours will begin as soon as the conditions permit, projected to be in January.