10th (Tenth) Mountain Division Huts and Summit Huts Online Guidebook
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How Hard is Skiing or Snowshoeing the Colorado Huts?

Now that huts can make snow-camping unnecessary for backcountry skiing, it may take less skill and vigor to enjoy the winter wilds. Even so, you still need a certain level of skill and strength to travel safely on the trails covered by HutSki.com, and you must know your limits.

Weather can turn the easiest routes into dangerous epics. Illness, injury, or navigation problems can force you into an unplanned bivouac in the snow. What's more, alternate and branch routes run the gamut of winter challenge and risk.

The 10th Mountain, Summit and Braun hut system trails travel to and from cozy shelters; but these are full-bore treks, not "day trips." To ski any of these routes you could have to break trail in deep powder and navigate with zero visibility all at altitudes over 8,000 feet. Thus, no route covered here is an easy backcountry trail, no such thing exists! In other words, to safely enjoy any trail or tour covered by this website you should be at least an intermediate level backcountry skier to enjoy these trails without a guide.

And what to do if you're a novice backcountry skier? Simple, travel with more experienced friends or hire a guide.

HutSki.com Route Ratings

Intermediate backcountry skiers can use a strong snowplow for downhill skiing control. They can change direction with a parallel or telemark turn, though they may not be highly skilled in downhill skiing. They have done long tours with at least 2,000 feet of elevation gain, at altitudes over 8,000 feet. Intermediates know how to use a topographic map, compass, and altimeter. They have plenty of first-aid knowledge, and carry and know how to use bivouac gear. Avalanche safety is more theory than experience for an intermediate, as they need field practice to learn hazard recognition.

Advanced backcountry skiers have all the skills of an intermediate, plus several years experience skiing huts and associated terrain. They have better ski skills than an Intermediate, have first-aid training, and are well versed in emergency conduct. Their orienteering skills are impeccable and include expertise in GPS use. They have the fitness to ski for long days with over 3,000 vertical feet elevation gain. They have taken an avalanche safety course and continue to study avalanche safety.

Expert backcountry skiers combine superb avalanche safety knowledge and climbing skills with expert skiing skills. They have at least eight years of solid experience, and have made the craft of wilderness skiing into a valued avocation. Expert skiers are skilled enough to organize a rescue or act as a guide.

Only a few routes covered here are rated Novice, meaning an inexperienced backcountry skier can do them safely provided they are accompanied by at least one person with a reasonable level of expertise.

This book goes great with our maps, highly recommended for any hut skier.
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Please note: The information in this website is based on the experience and research of the site owners and their sources, may not be accurate, and might not be perceived as accurate by other persons. Therefore, extreme care should be taken when following any of the backcountry skiing 10th Mountain Huts, Summit Huts and Braun Huts routes described in this website. This website is not intended to be instructional but rather is a guide for backcountry users who already have the requisite training, experience, and knowledge for the activities they choose. An advanced level of expertise and physical conditioning is necessary for even the "easiest" of the routes and activities described herein. Proper clothing and equipment is essential. Failure to have the necessary knowledge, equipment, and conditioning will subject you to physical danger, injury, or death. Some backcountry skiing routes for 10th Mountain Huts, Summit Huts and Braun Huts have changed and others will change; avalanche hazards may have expanded or new hazards may have formed since this website's publication.

Mission statement: The mission of HutSki.com is to provide backcountry skiers and other Colorado hut users with a complete set of high quality free topo maps, plentiful how-to information, and brief route descriptions that include alternate routes as well as standard trails.