[R240R, Monarch Mountain] received 482 inches of nice Colorado fluff last season. Most of which was skied out or groomed over in no time.

But just outside the resort's boundaries the powder was mostly undisturbed - unless you were among the skiers and snowboarders to take advantage of Monarch's snowcat tours.

Riders can access more than 1,000 acres of pristine backcountry terrain, speckled with steeps, trees, cliffs and bowls, for a relative pittance.

 A typical tour lasts a full day (from 8:30 a.m. orientation to 4:30 p.m. arrival back at Monarch's base area) and consists of 10 to 12 runs per day, with an average vertical of 900 feet per run over expert terrain. There will be no more than 11 other like-minded riders (excluding guides) with you as you tear up the light and dry.

The snowcat tours generally begin in late December - though rides earlier in the season are not unknown - and run through early April. The price for a high-season tour (Jan. 17-March 22) is $250 per person, or if you scrounge up 11 buddies to make a full cat, it will cost $2,500, or about 208 bucks a head. For the shoulder seasons (Dec. 27-Jan. 16 and March 23-April 5) the prices are $180 and $1,800 per respective option.

Tours can be booked at (888) 996-7669, extension 5040 or online through Monarch's Snowcat Tours page.