Big Red Cats in Powder Magazine
RED (GREEN) MACHINE: Corn-fed cats
Efforts to give the ski industry a greener shade have been slow to progress and met with skeptical stares. Whenever a company makes headlines for implementing an environmentally sustainable practice, one must question: Is this “true-green” or merely “green-wash?” Are said changes actually being implemented, or is it just empty rhetoric designed to elicit valuable PR attention?
One outfit in particular, Big Red Cat Skiing located just a few miles away from Red Resort in Rossland, B.C., has paid close attention to other true-green stewards of the environment, like Aspen Skiing Company. Through implemented policies, Big Red is committed to mitigating skiing’s environmental impact.
Though only in its third year, Big Red Cat Skiing has made its position clear by embarking on a path towards a diminished dependence on petroleum-based fuels.
“We’re really serious about this stuff,” says Kieren Gaul, president of Big Red Cat Skiing. “There’s a great opportunity to become leaders here. Cat-skiing operations are quite a big segment and it’s important to set examples and lead the way.”
The company has contracted with a local biofuel supplier and will be running each of its three snow cats on a 25 percent blend of corn-based ethanol for the 2007-2008 season. With 140 liters of diesel fuel consumed a day by each cat, it appears to be a great starting point. But Gaul hopes to see the ethanol percentage double by the following season.
“It’s something we’ve wanted to do since we started,” Gaul asserts, “and there’s been a lot of enthusiasm among our guests. They’ve really pushed us in that direction.”
In other green pursuits, the company replaced all of its two-stroke snowmobiles with four-stroke sleds, a decision Gaul says has cut the fleet’s total fuel consumption in half.
When these and other environmentally beneficial improvements are so easy to enact and so readily available in the world of motorized backcountry tours, Gaul believes cat-skiing trumps the competition.
“It’s one of the nice advantages cat-skiing has over the helicopters—it has a lot less of an environmental footprint.”
Look for Big Red Cat Skiing in the ’07-‘08 Heli and Cat-Ski guide, bound into POWDER’S October Resort Guide issue.
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