New owners of Grand Adventures add Sno-Cat skiing near Jones Pass
October 30, 2009
One of the county’s largest snowmobile touring operations has new owners. Melinda and Chip Besse of Tabernash have taken over Grand Adventures from Don Newman, who owned it for 14 years.
Grand Adventures has four locations in the county with 150 snowmobiles and some 40 employees. It is the only snowmobile company in the county permitted to guide clients to the Continental Divide.
Chip and Melinda moved to Grand County in the spring of 2008 after living and working in London, England, for six years. Chip was in finance and operations, buying and selling companies. Melinda was in hotel marketing.
When the couple returned to the states, they rented an RV and went on a tour of the west, looking for the perfect place to settle.
“We both love the outdoors, and we are both very active in sports,” Melinda said.
The Besses were raised in Florida and had taken frequent family ski vacations during their youths. While in London, they spent time skiing in the Alps. When they returned to the states, their primary requirement was to live in a place with plenty of outdoor activity, Melinda said.
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They fell in love with the Winter Park area and got hooked up with Newman, who was still recovering from injuries he suffered during a 2002 search and rescue mission.
Newman was interested in selling the business in 2008, Melinda said, but the couple wanted to work for a season first to learn the ropes and ease the transition.
“We always wanted to have our own business, something that we enjoy that relates to our hobbies and activities,” Melinda said.
This season, Grand Adventures is theirs. They’ve added a new location and 20 new eco-friendly snowmobiles to the roster.
They will continue to run unguided tours out of Beaver Village and Grand Lake as well as guided tours out of Winter Park Mountain Lodge and a new location at the base of the Winter Park ski area (across from Cheeky Monk). The guided tours take snowmobilers along the historic Moffat railroad route to Corona Pass.
Grand Adventures opens for the season in conjunction with the ski area Nov. 18.
To boot, the Besses have also just opened Grand County’s only Sno-Cat ski guide service, Powder Addiction.
Sno-Cats take small groups of experienced skiers and snowboarders into the backcountry, away from lifts and groomed trails for multiple, fresh-powder runs.
Former Winter Park resort snow safety supervisor and ski patroller Jamie Wolter will head up the Sno-Cat operations. Wolter has been in the area for 22 years and previously ran a Sno-Cat ski company at Berthoud Pass. He is a certified avalanche instructor through the American Avalanche Association and got his start instructing the winter mountaineering program for Outward Bound in 1988.
Powder Addiction is permitted to run trips in the Jones Pass area. Booking and reservations will be coordinated out of the new ski area base location.
Powder Addiction will be the closest guided Sno-Cat service to Denver, about a 45-minute drive. Clients may choose to meet the group either at headquarters or at the trailhead to save the drive over Berthoud Pass. Powder skis are provided for those who need them.
The Sno-Cat holds up to 12 guests. Two guides go out on every trip, one usually leading each run and the other bringing up the rear. Riders have about 6 hours to take as many runs as possible, breaking for lunch (also provided). Once back at headquarters, guests are offered drinks and the opportunity to watch and purchase videos and photos from the day.
Powder Addiction will run trips seven days a week starting Dec. 10. Early season (through Dec. 21) and late season (March 21-April 30) trips cost $300 per person for a full day. High season trips cost $350. The entire Sno-Cat can be booked for $3,000 in the off season or $3,500 in the high season per day.
– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.