Originally Posted by Seven
I had an annual "thing" at Monarch with a group of friends. It was great fun because we had our group dialed.
Up until last year the skiing was epic. But Monarch, last year, decided to open the best section of their cat terrain to the area's lift access boundaries. Last year's cat tour found the best terrain was but a mere mogul field instead of the best powder of the day with the best north facing aspect and the best memories of every year's trip reduced to ordinary.
I would highly recommend San Juan Cat Tours. As a distant second ...Chicago Ridge Cat Tours at Ski Cooper (not Copper.)
I've done the Monarch tours four times and I would highly recommend them. Average runs are 1000' vert., steep, and for most of it you are skiing N-NE-E aspects. I went one year with a really strong group and we completed 24 or 25 runs, talk about leg burn. The Mirkwood area that was previously cat skiing and now is hike-to, encompasses only a small percentage of the cat-skiing terrain. There are a lot of other areas that are just as good, if not better. If you have a strong group you will be shown the "goods". Don't be fooled into thinking all the good terrain will be a mogul field. The dog chutes are where it's at.
I would not recommend the ski Cooper tours. Lots of low angle skiing and the steeper stuff seems to and get hammered by the sun and wind.
I've heard good things about El Diablo Tours down off Molas Pass in the San Juans, but I haven't been.