Go to one of the 10th Mountain Division Huts
Chances are, that while you live in Colorado you will come across the saying by John Muir “The Mountains are calling and I must go”. I am sure it won’t take long that you know EXACTLY what John Muir meant when he said this.
We live in Colorado Springs and we love “our” Mountains. Over the past few years, our ski trips have gotten shorter, workdays have gotten longer, however, once a year we WILL gather a bunch of friends, dust off our gear and head into one of the 10th Mountain Division huts.
How to book a hut/yurt
Preparation for next years hut trip started already at the end of this years hut trip, when spirits are high and everyone is eager to go again after a fabulous few days.
First we determine where we want to go. There are several organizations that have huts: 10th Mtn. Division Huts, The Summit Hut Associations, the Grand Huts Associations and other hut/yurt owners united under the Colorado Hut and Yurt Alliance. Find an interactive map of all huts and yurts here and let your heart beat faster when you look at all the options you have! There are so many that you should try them all.
If you only want a couple of beds, you can simply go to their online calendar:
For use of a complete hut, determine, where (pick several huts) and when you want to go and work on your lottery forms. If you can go during the week and not on the weekend, your chances are better to get the hut you want. Because our group usually reserves a full hut, we have several of our friends join the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association which allows each member to enter the reservations lottery and increase our chances of getting one of the huts of our choice. My understanding is that there are several level of memberships which determine the first picks. What’s left after the first picks goes to the rest of the group via lottery system.
Between all the information on the internet, especially youtube and the 10th Mountain Division Hut website you’ll find everything you need and want to prepare properly for your back country hut trip. Here are some of my observations:
Back Country Skis, Boots, Skins
Many people seem to mistake Back Country also called Alpine Touring (AT) skiing with Cross Country Skiing. Far from it: Cross Country Skiing is much more difficult to control and you generally need a groomed run. With Back Country Skiing you have (hopefully) a light and wider ski. The bindings can be released in the back to allow for movement during walking, they can be locked in at the heel to let you easily ski downhill and a heel height adjustment for easier uphill climbing.
If you have newer ski boots your boots might actually already have a walking mode, which is a release to let your boot move with your step. Whenever we rented AT boots, it would seem that Scarpa is the go to choice of rental companies, however, they always felt so small and tight to me that I always ended up taking half a size larger than I would regularly wear.
When you are heading up hill, you will use “skins” for your skis. They are strips of ….well, carpet…which provide traction so that you don’t slide back when your are climbing and conquering a mountain range. One end of the skins is looped over the ski tip, and glued, much like a sticker, to the ski and fastened at the end of your ski with a rubber band and clip. These skins are your lifeline and you’ll need to take care of them.
Of course, you’ll need poles. AT poles are very similar to regular poles, with the exception that they might have a slightly wider basket at the bottom and that they are height adjustable. If you climb you’ll want them shorter, if you ski downhill or tour a fairly even trail you’ll want a longer pole.
First of all it is important to be prepared. You are “out there” and basically leaving civilization at home. Just for a few days. You’ll love it but you’ll need to be prepared. Like I mentioned, in the resources above, there is so much on the internet for you to read up on. So go ahead and do your research.
Secondly, don’t be scared. There are so many fears that go along with these trips, especially with noobs (newbies). If you are in a group, they’ll ask: “Will I be able to keep up? I don’t work out every day!” or ” Can I do this? I can’t ski!”. YES and YES. So far, ALL of our friends have made it and we have never left anyone behind. So you’ll be fine. If you are on your maiden voyage to a hut, maybe don’t chose a 9 mile trail to the hut, but start a little easier. We noticed that about 3 miles was perfect for everyone. After all, it is about having fun with your friends and enjoying nature.