Skiing the 10th Mtn Trail, Colorado

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    Images:  10th Mtn Trail, Colorado March 2011

    10th Mountain Backcountry Hut to Hut Ski Tour

    March 20 - 25, 2011

    Five days, three Huts:  Uncle Bud's (2 nights), 10th Mtn Division Hut (2 nights), and Continental Divide Hut (1 night)

    The idea for this tour came from our honeymoon.   Mike and Linda skied from Vail to Aspen staying at five 10th mountain trail huts in March of 1988.  

    The 10th Mtn Hut system in Colorado is a system of 29 *deluxe* backcountry huts in the central Colorado Rocky Mountains, connected by 350 miles of trails, and is managed by the 10th Mtn Division Hut Association.  Each hut is a well designed and equiped log lodge capable of sleeping 12 to 20 people.  Each has wood stoves, solar panels for lights, a full kitchen, common living space and sleeping quarters.

    The name honors the men of the 10th Mountain Division of the US Army, who trained during World War II at Camp Hale in central Colorado. 

    For this trip, the party consisted of Linda and Mike and five friends:  Eliza and John Schmidt, Lee Abraszewski, Greg Scott and Jeff Selfa.   Saturday morning March 19, 2011; we drove in two cars from Pocatello, Idaho to Leadville, Colorado and arrived in time for a yummy dinner at the Tennessee Pass Cafe.   We enjoyed a restful overnight at A Wolf's Den, an awesome Bed and Breakfast near Leadville.   The next morning we drove a few miles to the Turquoise Lake trailhead (9,760').

    Eliza, Lee, Greg, Linda, and Jeff were on the trail by 10:00 am Sunday morning, while Mike and John dropped off a car at Tennesse Pass (our exit point) and caught up a few hours later.  Under sunny skies, we skied the road to the steeper but well packed trail heading to Uncle Bud's Cabin (elev. 11,380').  A relatively uneventful day that lead to several blisters.  Dinner was carried, cooked and served by Greg and Lee.

    On Monday (Mar 21) we found some powder turns not too far from the cabin, and hiked multiple times for the best powder of the trip.  This also gave us a feel for the beginning of our route on our third and most difficult day.

    Tuesday, we left Uncle Bud's around 9 am, heading past our pow tracks from the day before, in severe wind, cold, and snowing conditions.   We navigated a stretch of steep powder, (this time with 25-40 lb packs!) leading to a valley then up and out to a high lake and down into an Aspen forest.  Without tracks and only axe blazes in the Holy Cross Wilderness, route finding was challenging.  Here we turned off too soon, but with skillful map reading found our way to the valley just below the Tenth Mountain Division Hut (11,370').   We arrived tired and happy around 4 pm, just as the weather turned to a blizzard.   Dinner was brought and prepared by John and Eliza.   Our experienced hut mates told us the stretch from Uncle Bud's to 10th Mtn Hut is the most bivied section on the entire 10th Mtn system.

    On Wednesday (Mar 23), blue skies found us skiing up to Slide Lake, a short tour above the 10th Mtn. Hut.  Mike, Jeff, Lee, and Greg found some turns.  The sun turned the snow to sticky peanut butter which clumped up 6-8" deep on the bottom of the skis, unless you used a glide wax which some of us didn't have.  Four of us brought Kindles, and found time to read after our ski tour.

    By 9 am Thursday we were packed and heading down the trail to our last night at the Continent Divide Cabin (10,500').   Arriving there early, all the men skied out to the Suburban, drove to a Leadville store, bought steaks, fresh salad, beer, and wine; then skiied back up with full packs.   Our last dinner on the trail was a savory barbecue feast.

    On Friday, we skied out the very short distance to the Suburban at Tennesse Pass and the end of our 10th Mtn Hut to Hut adventure. On our way home we skiied a day at Beaver Creek, and ended the day with an enjoyable soak in Glenwood Springs hot pools.

    The maps below provide the overview and details of our ski tour.  You can follow the links for more info on the 10th Mountain Hut and Trail system.


    10th Mtn Trail System South East Quadrant