While most North America snowcat companies have changed ownership once, if not several times, during the past decade-and-a-half, Bob Rule, owner of the San Juan Ski Company, has single-handedly held the helm to Colorado’s largest snowcat operation for 15 years.
Rule, a Durango builder and ex-pro football player, cashed in his life savings and started the SJSC in 1997 to write off his powder-skiing addiction. Since then, he has been skiing powder every day, and today; 15 years later, has built the SJSC into one of the largest catskiing outfits North America.
He has held on to the snowcat business through dedication, commitment and thousands of hours of uncompensated time.
Not only is he the owner and lead guide, Rule is also chief cook and bottle washer. Responsibilities include: snowcat driver and road engineer, (the SJSC has over 50 miles of snowcat roads to build and maintain) avalanche forecaster, snow safety director, snowcat and snowmobile mechanic, ski and binding technician, parts and metal fabricator, host and head honcho. And, in years’ past, he was also lunch maker, reservations taker and lodging caretaker. (When he first started the business, Rule added on to his home and bunked catskiing guests on the third story of his house.)
Rule is always pushing the boundaries – both figuratively and physically.
Every summer and early fall, he spends weeks scouting his permitted area, nearly 60 square miles, for new terrain to ski and hikes with a chainsaw to clear lines. He fondly refers to this as “chainsaw hiking.” It is also “training” to get in shape for skiing. See related article http://sanjuanski.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/sjsc-snowcat-guides-hit-the-woods-for-ski-conditioning/.
Rule has paid a high price for skiing everyday the past 15 years and bushwhacking countless summers in the San Juans. He has two artificial hips. And, although his bionic parts have not slowed him down, they do deter him from jumping off cliffs (since the landings make his hips squeak like a rusty gate).
Rule holds a Level III Avalanche Certification in the United States and a Level II in Canada. He is also a certified blaster.
This season marks the 15th anniversary of the SJSC. The Durango Mountain Resort-based catskiing company is offering monthly specials and discounted snowcats through the April. For details, visit www.sanjuanski.com or call 1.800.280.1780.