ELEVATION: 11,610 feet
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Janet's Cabin (see below)
GPS: 394 177 E, 43 68 985 N
TRAILHEADS: Vail Pass, Union Creek
USGS 7.5 min map: Copper Mountain
10th Mountain Huts map: Resolution Mountain
Located at timberline in the Guller Creek Drainage near Copper Mountain Ski Resort, Janet's Cabin is a fine and easily accessed hut that attracts both novice and expert skiers.
Janet's cabin is easily accessed from Copper Mountain Resort.
The crafted 3,000 square foot cabin is built with 10" Montana pine logs. Four bedrooms sleep a maximum of 20 guests. Heat is by wood stove, while sun-powered lighting, two propane cook stoves and hutkeeper quarters round out the amenities. If you like mountain lounging you'll feel at home on the large front deck, where you can bake in the sun while you watch skiers descend from the high bowls.
The standard trail to Janet's Cabin takes Guller Creek from the Copper Mountain ski resort. Though this trail is easy, it still requires backcountry wherewithal. Experts will find more challenge by skiing to the hut from Vail Pas, and the "super expert" will have an interesting day challenging the high ridge from Union Peak to the hut. Though not officially part of the 10th Mountain Hut and Trail System, Janet's Cabin readily connects with Jackal Hut via Tim's Traverse, and to the Shrine Mountain Inn via Upper Stafford Creek.
Union Creek Trailhead at Copper Mountain Ski Area—Janet's Cabin via Guller Creek
TIME: 5 hours up, 3 hours down
DISTANCE: 4 3/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,790 feet
This trail up the Guller Creek drainage is the standard route to Janet's Cabin. Though rated Novice, skiers on this route should be fully equipped and know their map reading. Take care with the complicated start for this route. Begin at the Union Creek Trailhead at Copper Mountain ski area. From Union Creek you have two choices.
Option one, ride the lifts
The popular option is to ride K and L lifts to the top of "West Tenmile" ski trail. You can get a one-ride lift ticket by presenting your 10th Mountain confirmation letter at the ticket window at Union Creek. Ski about 1/4 mile down the extreme W (left) side of the West Tenmile ski trail to a backcountry gate in the ski reasort boundary (10,640 feet, an altimeter eliminates guesswork here). A blue diamond marked trail heads from the gate W through the forest.
Option two, hike like a man (or woman)
Ski .6 miles up the extreme west (looker's right) side of "Roundabout" ski run to the base of L lift. Continue up the extreme west (looker's right) side of "West Tenmile" ski run .6 miles to where a backcountry gate marks the ski trail leaving the ski area boundary at elevation (10,640 feet, an altimeter eliminates guesswork here). A blue diamond marked trail heads from the gate W through the forest.
In either case, after you leave the ski area follow an obvious trail-cut (take your skins off) as it traverses then drops W into the Guller Creek drainage to cross Jacque Creek and Guller Creek in an open area at 10,460 feet. From the crossing, the trail stays on the N side of the creek for 2 miles to about 11,120 feet. Here the valley widens and becomes very low angled. Switch to the S side of the creek here, and continue up the drainage another mile to where the valley steepens and narrows. Put your skins on here.
Climb this steep section of the trail another 1/4 mile to the Janet's Cabin at 11,610 feet. The hut is just below the last timber a few hundred feet NW of Guller Creek. If you find yourself above timberline you have gone too high.
REVERSE ROUTE DESCRIPTION: Reverse the above route to the lower creek crossing at 10,460 feet. For the most fun put your skins back on here and continue to reverse your route back to the West Tenmile ski run. Then enjoy a downhill run to Union Creek.
As an alternative to the climb back to the ski run you can continue down Guller Creek via an obvious trail. After a fast 2 mile downhill you'll intersect maintained ski touring trails. Climb the ski touring trails to your right (E) at the first opportunity and continue climbing E until you hit the first downhill ski run. Descend this run to Union Creek.
SAFETY NOTES: This route passes near or under (depending on exact line) a small but nonetheless real avalanche path at mile 1.78 from the trailhead. As with any Colorado backcountry skiing, all party members should carry and know how to use the beacon-shovel-probe kit, and remember to always spread apart so as to travel one at a time while exposed to even the slightest avalanche hazard. Though this route is somewhat easier than most hut access routes in Colorado, it's still backcountry skiing—so be prepared.
SUMMER: The Guller Creek trail is fine for cycling, hiking or horseback. Copper Mountain Resort has a comprehensive summer program than includes cycling. Call Copper Mountain for details (see directory).
Vail Pass Trailhead—Janet's Cabin via Upper Stafford Creek
TIME: 6 hours up, 5 hours down
DISTANCE: 5 3/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,130 feet; elevation loss: 700 feet
|Janet Boyd Tyler, click image to enlarge.
This route is the most efficient ski connection between Vail Pass and Janet's Cabin. It also forms the bulk of the connection between Janet's and the Shrine Mountain Inn. Most of the route follows timberline, skirting high around several mountainsides. It's a more interesting trip than Guller Creek, with tremendous views and plenty of challenging navigation.
Begin at the the Vail Pass Trailhead. Put your skins on and ski S through across Tenmile Creek, then take a slightly climbing traverse S then SW into Wilder Gulch. Cross S through Wilder Gulch at the 10,600 foot level. Leave Wilder Gulch and climb 1 mile up the S ridge of Wilder Gulch to a shelf at 11,280 feet. Move S off the ridge here, and take a traversing climb another mile to timberline at a small saddle and knob in the Stafford Creek Drainage (11,640 feet).
Traverse the head of Stafford Creek by following an 11,600 foot contour, and gain an open saddle on the south ridge of the drainage at 11,680 feet. Take a slightly dropping contour SE from the saddle 1/4 mile down to Janet's Cabin at the head of Guller Creek. The hut is just below the last timber a few hundred feet NW of Guller Creek. If you find yourself above timberline you have gone to high.
REVERSE ROUTE DESCRIPTION:
From the back steps of Janet's Cabin, take a 1/4 mile slightly climbing traverse N then NW to the open saddle (11,680 feet) on the ridge separating Guller Creek from Stafford Creek. Traverse the head of Stafford Creek via a 2 mile timberline traverse at 11,600 to a saddle and small knob at 11,640 feet. Drop N than E here for a short distance, then traverse to the ridge that separates Smith Gulch from Wilder Gulch. Follow the ridge down to 10,600 feet in Wilder Gulch, cross N through Wilder Gulch, then contour N another mile to Vail Pass.
Because much of this trail passes through open areas do not depend on trail markers. Much of the terrain above timberline is exposed to avalanches. The correct trail avoids avalanche hazard by dipping in and out of the trees. But since the exact trail can be hard to find, skiers on this route should know how to identify avalanche hazard.
This is a good alpine hike. Lack of trail tread makes the route unsuitable for bicycles and horses.
Janet's Cabin to Shrine Mountain Inn via Upper Stafford Creek and marked West Tenmile Creek Trail from Vail Pass
TIME: 7 hours
DISTANCE: 8 1/2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 766 feet; elevation loss: 1,167 feet
This is the simplest and most reliable connection between Shrine Mountain Inn and Janet's Cabin. With good weather, strong groups can make a variation and follow a high-route between the huts over Shrine Mountain. Follow the Upper Stafford Creek route to Vail Pass, then take the 10th Mountain standard marked route from Vail Pass to Shrine Mountain Inn.
Because much of this trail passes through open areas, do not depend on trail markers. Much terrain above timberline is exposed to avalanches. The correct trail avoids slide hazard by dipping in and out of forest. Since the exact trail may be hard to find, skiers on this route should know how to identify avalanche danger. The portion from Vail Pass to the Shrine Mountain Inn is easier, but even this could be dangerous in poor visibility during a storm.
The section of route from Vail Pass is a good alpine hike, but is unsuitable for bicycles and horses. Shrine Pass Road is a good cycling route. Hikers can explore Shrine Mountain and the surrounding drainages. Horse people can ride on the road, but heavy car traffic could be a problem.
Janet's Cabin to Fowler/Hilliard Hut via Upper Wilder Gulch and
TIME: 9 hours
DISTANCE: 8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 968 feet; elevation loss: 858 feet
This route is a connector that uses upper Wilder Gulch to connect to the upper Wearyman Creek route to the Fowler Hilliard Hut
ROUTE DESCRIPTION: Take the Upper Stafford Creek route from Janet's Cabin and ski to the ridge between Smith Gulch and Wilder Gulch. Head westerly into Wilder Gulch and climb the gulch about 1 1/4 miles to a saddle northeast of Ptarmigan Hill. Descend 1/2 mile to intersect the 10th Mountain suggested route that heads through upper Wearyman Creek and westerly to Fowler/Hilliard Hut.
Experienced groups in good snow conditions can do a high altitude variation that climbs Ptarmigan Hill then heads west to the Fowler/Hilliard.
SAFETY NOTES: This is a rather lengthy route that may include navigation challenges as one section does not follow marked trail.
SUMMER: Interesting hiking, not suitable for bicycle.
Janet's Cabin to Jackal Hut via Tim's Traverse
TIME: 6 hours
DISTANCE: 4 1/2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,230 feet; elevation loss: 1,180 feet
You want one of the finest "hut to hut" high tours? Try this alternate route.
ROUTE DESCRIPTION: From the front steps of Janet's Cabin, climb SW and S to Searle Pass (12,040 feet). Take the time at Searle Pass to read your map and identify Corbett Peak, which rises above the basin to the south. Ski across the basin (you might see markers for the Colorado Trail) and climb to the saddle on the ridge (12,460 feet) just north of Corbett Peak. Stay on the ridge and climb N to the first high point (12,600 feet), then drop off the ridge by following a rib which leads W to Pearl Peak.
Contour around the southerly side of Pearl Peak (or go over the summit to avoid avalanche danger), and descend the southwest ridge of Pearl Peak about a mile to the saddles and small bump (11,475 feet) that separate Cataract Creek to the south from Pearl Creek to the north. Intersect the marked 10th Mountain Trail here that continues W along the ridge to the Jackal Hut. The hut is several hundred feet south off the ridge crest at 11,660 feet elevation.
SAFETY NOTES: Much of this route passes through avalanche terrain. You should carry avalanche rescue equipment and be expert with hazard avoidance. Consider skiing Tim's Traverse during a period of stable snow, such as a cold day during the spring corn-snow season.
SUMMER: Tim's Traverse is a good alpine hike. The section of Colorado Trail over Searle Pass and into the basin is a good bet for all activities. But the route from the basin over to the Jackal Hut has no tread, thus it's only good for hiking.
Proposed provisional route: Janet's Cabin via high route
THIS ROUTE IS PROVISONAL AND NOT POSSIBLE AT THIS TIME DUE TO NO PUBLIC ACCESS FOR JACQUE PEAK FROM COPPER MOUNTAIN RESORT. (This is due to portions of the resort permit area on Forest Service public land existing beyond their marked boundaries, and designated as closed terrain by the resort, thus being illegal to access.)
PROPOSED ROUTE DESCRIPTION: The proposed but presently closed and currently illegal route begins at the Copper Mountain ski area boundary on Union Peak (12,313 feet). At this time (as of 2016) this ski area boundary is closed to public egress. From the top of Union Peak, climb the ridge SW for 3/4 miles and 892 vertical feet to the summit of Jacque Peak. From Jacque Peak simply descend the ridge 1 3/4 miles W to Searle Pass. Leave the ridge at the pass and descend NW and W to Janet's Cabin. The hut is located at 11,610 feet, just below timberline a few hundred feet northwest of Guller Creek.
Regional Skiing at Janet's Cabin
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate to Advanced
Janet's Cabin provides access to a vast area of high altitude terrain. Intermediate skiers will enjoy short forays into the low angled bowls above the hut, as well as a bit of tree skiing below. Advanced skiers and experts can climb to Searle Pass or Sugarloaf Peak.
SAFETY NOTES: During times of low avalanche hazard, much of the terrain above Janet's Cabin is of a low enough angle to be reasonably safe for skiing. Plenty of steeper pitches exist, as do drops off cornices and steep pitches into ravines. However smooth the snow looks, remember that hidden obstacles abound. Ski in control.
SUMMER: Try a hike on the Colorado Trail, or venture off-trail to the alpine bowls above the hut.