10th (Tenth) Mountain Division Huts and Summit Huts Online Guidebook
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Skinner Hut
ELEVATION: 11,620 feet
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Skinner Hut (see below)
GPS: 373 760 E, 43 47 316 N

TRAILHEADS:
Turquoise Lake, Hagerman Pass
USGS 7.5 min map: Homestake Reservoir
10th Mountain Huts map: Continental Divide

Perched at timberline on the east side of Hagerman Pass near the town of Leadville, Skinner Hut is one of the most alpine 10th Mountain huts. The low slung stone faced cabin sleeps 19 and breaks from the usual 10th Mountain form factor by having only one story.

Hutski.com founder Lou Dawson at Skinner Hut. And yes, he brought his climbing skins.

The highlands of the Continental Divide are a short climb away, as are plenty of other options for high routes and ski descents. A superb view from the hut's east windows includes the 14,036-foot summit of Mount Sherman in the Mosquito Range.

Because of steep terrain and possible avalanche danger, no route to the Skinner Hut is rated less than advanced. Indeed, more than one party has realized that the hut's name comes close to that of an essential piece of equipment for every route to the hut: climbing skins. 10th Mountain recommended route Glacier Creek route is the most popular ascent to the Skinner Hut, but involves an extremely steep climb and descent. Busk Creek alternate route has easier skiing, but is longer and has tougher navigation. Skiing from the Skinner Hut to Betty Bear Hut via Hagerman Pass is relatively benign, but does involve plenty of travel above treeline where you may be challenged by wind and whiteouts.

Skinner Hut map below connects Uncle Bud's Hut on the right (east), 10th Mountain Hut West on the top (north),and Betty Bear Hut on the left (west). If you have trouble viewing or printing the map below, please try our Skinner Hut map PDF. Also, if you want to see all our maps check our map index.
 

 

Turquoise Lake Trailhead—Skinner Hut via Turquoise Lake Road and Glacier Creek
DIFFICULTY: Advanced
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Skinner Hut (see below)
TIME: 8 hours up, 6 hours down
DISTANCE: 10 1/2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,550 feet; loss: 690 feet

This is a route of contrasts. You begin on a wide, flat snowmobile-packed road. Then a skin climb takes you 1,500 vertical feet in just a few miles. Begin with Nordic wax at the Turquoise Lake Trailhead. Ski or walk west up the main Turquoise Lake road and continue on the main road around the lake. This well defined road gradually climbs while paralleling the north shore of the lake. At 5 miles from the trailhead you’ll hit the road’s nondescript high point (10,680 feet). Continue on the road for another 2 1/2 miles of level sections and gradual downhills past the west end of Turquoise Lake. Here you must find the start of the Glacier Creek route for Skinner Hut (which begins at the same point as the trail to Timberline Lake).

For positive identification of the Glacier Creek trail, remember that the trail leaves the road at the upper north end of a curve that turns from west to south. See map for GPS info, as this is the sure way to ID this location. The Glacier Creek trail is marked with blue diamonds. You'll see a Forest Service trailhead marker after you start up the trail that indicates Timberline Lake Trail, but the marker can't be seen from the road.

After leaving the Turquoise Lake Road, follow the Glacier Creek route as it stays in the valley for a short distance, then bears left and follows a distinct cut through the forest. Soon you'll be on a steep climb through small clearings and timber, then break into a large clearing at 10,760 feet. This is called the Lunch Spot. Take a rest so you're ready for the next section of trail— steep climbing ahead!

Continue upvalley from the Lunch Spot across open flats. With avalanche danger to your right you can stay in the trees to your left, but the skiing is easier on the flats. Enter the woods again at the upper end of the last clearing. From here the trail climbs steeply up the apex of the drainage, eventually reaching a small clearing at 11,400 feet. This is where the real challenge begins.

Cross the bottom end of the clearing (one at a time for possible avalanche danger), then follow a series of steep sidehill switchbacks that climb through forest to the Hagerman Pass Road at 11,600 feet. Turn left (E), ski the road a short distance, then follow a well-marked blue diamond trail a short distance to the hut. If you miss the blue diamonds the road-cut is obvious, but skiing the road will take you past the hut if you're not careful. The Skinner Hut is located a few hundred feet north of Hagerman Pass Road at 11,620 feet. You can not see the hut from the road.

REVERSE ROUTE DESCRIPTION: The first steep section of this trail (that drops you into Glacier Creek) is a difficult downhill. Consider descending Busk Creek instead.

If you do opt for a return via Glacier Creek, ski W from the hut outhouse up a short hill (trail marked with blue diamonds), then down a short hill to intersect the Hagerman Pass Road. Look to your right for ski tracks and blue diamonds indicating the point where the Glacier Creek trail leaves the road and descends into the Glacier Creek drainage. Reverse the route above, perhaps deviating from the trail a bit as you make a series of switchbacks to get down the steep sections of trail. The suggested route makes a boring descent into the gut of Glacier Creek to intersect the Turquoise Lake Road. For better downhill fun ski the marked trail down to about 10,200 feet, swing right (E) off the marked trail, then ski clearings and a line-cut down to the Turquoise Lake Road. With this option you'll intersect the Turquoise Lake Road a few hundred yards south of the official trail/road intersection.

SAFETY NOTES: Climbing skins are essential for this route. A number of avalanche paths threaten the Glacier Creek valley. The most obvious slides are those that run down the northwest side of the valley into the flats at 10,760 feet. The official trail avoids exposure to these slides by staying close to the trees on the side of the valley, but most parties ski across the middle of the flats as this is a more obvious line. Doing so is an acceptable risk during low avalanche hazard, but with any doubt about stability you should stay to the side of the valley—or even in the trees. Also, spread your party out if conditions indicate high hazard. The marked trail passes below another smaller slide path at 11,400 feet. This path slides infrequently, but should be treated with caution. Parties using the Glacier Creek trail should carry (and know how to use) avalanche beacons and shovels.

SUMMER: The trail up Glacier Creek makes a fine hike (with some bushwhacking), and the Turquoise Lake Road is a scenic drive. For more civilized hiking take the trail to Timberline Lake.


Turquoise Lake Trailhead—Skinner Hut via Turquoise Lake Road and Busk Creek
DIFFICULTY: Advanced
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Skinner Hut (see above)
TIME: 12 hours up, 8 hours down
DISTANCE: 11 3/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,580 feet; loss: 720 feet

This alternate route avoids the steep climb up Glacier Creek. It is long and unmarked, but could be a good option for skiers with sleds or light touring gear. Note this is an easier descent for people without strong downhill skiing skills, but requires more navigation skill than using the blue diamond marked Glacier Creek route described above.

Follow the Turquoise Lake Road (see route above) to the west end of Turquoise Lake. Stay on the Turquoise Lake Road as it turns S then SE to cross over Busk Creek (a nondescript culvert) at 9,950 feet. GPS this if necessary. Continue a few hundred feet past the culvert, then take a hard right (SW) off the road into the forest. A well-used snowmobile and ski route leads up through the forest for 3/4 mile to the open flats in Busk Creek at the 10,200-foot level. Cross to the northwest side of Busk Creek and ski upvalley through open trees and clearings. Above 10,400 feet the valley narrows and you'll eventually be forced left (S) into denser timber. Cross back over to the southeast side of Busk Creek at approximately 10,500 feet and continue climbing through timber to the Hagerman Pass Road at 10,760 feet.

Here you have two choices (with either option a GPS is useful for the final let to the hut, as it's not visible until you're there:

A) Simply climb the Hagerman Pass Road 3 miles to the Skinner Hut. Most of the road is easy to follow via hillside cuts and obvious cuts through timber. One section at 11,000 feet can be obscured during heavy snow years, but a bit of map work will keep you on track. A power line makes a good landmark.

B) With high avalanche danger, several steep banks threaten the Hagerman Pass Road. You can avoid most of these by following an old rail grade above the road. To do so, leave the road a few hundred feet east of the obvious Carlton Tunnel portal and climb up through the trees to intersect the rail grade in an open area at 11,080 feet. The rail-grade route is not obvious here, but it soon follows a distinct cut NE, paralleling the Hagerman Pass Road and intersecting the road at the power lines (11,060 feet). From here follow the Hagerman Pass Road to Skinner Hut.

REVERSE ROUTE DESCRIPTION: Ski S from the Skinner Hut several hundred feet to the obvious cut of the Hagerman Pass Road. Ski the road 1/4 mile to the power line at the 11,060-foot level. With high avalanche danger leave the road at the power line and traverse on the old rail grade for 1 3/4 miles, then drop though light timber to intersect the Hagerman Pass Road near the Carlton Tunnel portal.

Ski the Hagerman Pass Road SE and E several hundred yards around the curve from the Carlton Tunnel portal. Drop into Busk Creek at the east end of the curve. Ski through timber on the south side of Busk Creek and cross the creek at the 10,500-foot level. Ski down the north side of the Busk Creek valley into the open flats. Cross back over Busk Creek and continue down the drainage to intersect the Turquoise Lake Road. Follow the Turquoise Lake Road back around the north side of Turquoise Lake to the Turquoise Lake Trailhead.

SAFETY NOTES: Though the skiing on this trail is of the intermediate level, it is rated advanced because it is a long unmarked trail. Also note that this route has many miles of low-angle skiing. The route uses the Busk Creek valley rather than the lower Hagerman Pass Road to avoid exposure to avalanche paths on Bald Eagle Mountain. Do not attempt to cross the ice over Turquoise Lake.

SUMMER: These are good summer routes. The Hagerman Pass Road is fine for any high clearance 2-wheel drive vehicle, and it's fun on a bicycle. The old rail grade (option B) is a nice hike or bicycle route.


Fryingpan Drainage—Skinner Hut via Hagerman Pass Road
DIFFICULTY: Advanced
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAPS: Skinner Hut (see above), Granite
TIME: 12 hours up, 8 hours down
DISTANCE: 16 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,785 feet; loss: 365 feet

This is a lengthy alternate route, but most of the trail may be packed by snow machines. Use light touring gear and nordic wax. Carry skins as an option for the climb over Hagerman Pass.

Start at the Hagerman Pass Road Trailhead. Foot travel (ski, snowshoes, whatever) the obvious Hagerman Pass road. One possible point of confusion is an intersection at 10,690 feet. Here the Hagerman Pass Road begins a climbing traverse through trees, yet maintenance snowcats and snowmobilers are more likely to be using the lower road into Ivanhoe Lake. The long traverse to Hagerman Pass is usually wind-scoured, but does pass below a few slopes with possible slide danger. To avoid the traverse, ski up the valley to the east end of Ivanhoe Lake, then climb a more direct route to the pass. Even this route may pose some risk during extreme instability, so beware.

From the Hagerman Pass summit continue on the road as it takes a dropping traverse E to timberline. Stick to the road for a few hundred more yards, then follow a blue diamond marked route along the ridge E for 1/4 mile to the Skinner Hut. Take care not to ski the road past the Skinner Hut, as you cannot see the hut from the road. If you're new to the area a GPS is useful here.

(Alternate: You can shorten this route by skiing from the Elk Wallow Campground Trailhead. From the trailhead ski S for 1/4 mile across the bottom land to the point where the obvious power lines start up the mountainside. Put your skins on here and ski up the obvious road-cut that begins near the power lines. After about a mile of snow-covered road you will reach Diemer Lake. At the north end of Diemer Lake, ski W up an obvious road-cut that climbs around the lake basin to a 10,031-foot saddle north of the lake. From the saddle ski the road SW for 3/4 mile to the main Hagerman Pass Road at Sellar Park, then follow the route above.)

REVERSE ROUTE DESCRIPTION: From the Skinner Hut follow a blue diamond marked trail past the left side of the outhouse and 1/4 mile W to intersect the Hagerman Pass Road. Follow the Hagerman Pass Road a few hundred yards to timberline. Above timberline the road traverses north-facing slopes to Hagerman Pass (11,925 feet). To avoid slide danger on this traverse, consider leaving the road at timberline and climbing the ridge south of the road. At the pass, if the snow is skiable, leave the road and enjoy a run down to Ivanhoe Lake. With light snow cover or difficult ski conditions it's best to use the road that traverses downhill NW from the pass. In either case follow Hagerman Pass Road down Ivanhoe Creek, then through Hell Gate, where the road traverses the side of a ridge. After Hell Gate the road is easy to follow around Sellar Park and to the Hagerman Pass Road Trailhead.

SAFETY NOTES: Use lightweight ski equipment for this long flat route. Carry skins for the climbing just below the pass. You must be fit and start early.

SUMMER: The Hagerman Pass Road is a minimally maintained dirt road. It's a fine hike, bicycle route, or auto tour (high clearance 2-wheel drive).

Skinner Hut to Betty Bear Hut via Hagerman Pass
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Skinner Hut (see above)
TIME: 5 hours
DISTANCE: 4 1/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 345 feet; loss: 865 feet

This is the standard connection between the Skinner Hut and Betty Bear Hut. Reverse the Hagerman Pass route described above. Take the road down the west side of the pass for 1/4 mile to 11,800 feet. Leave the road here and take a dropping traverse SW to the Hagerman Tunnel portal (11,520 feet). Follow a snow-covered road SW then W from the portal as it traverses around the head of the drainage to an open saddle at 11,400 feet. Continue W from the saddle downhill 1 mile to Lily Pad Lake. Ski NW along the west side of the lake, then swing W for 1/8 mile through timber to Betty Bear Hut at 11,100 feet.

SAFETY NOTES: Visibility above timberline on Hagerman Pass can be limited in stormy weather. Calibrate your altimeter at the pass.

SUMMER: Use this route for a nice alpine hike. No summer tread connects Hagerman Pass with the tunnel road.


Skinner Hut to Uncle Bud's Hut via Glacier Creek and Main Range/Colorado Trail
DIFFICULTY: Advanced
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Skinner Hut (see above)
TIME: 8 hours
DISTANCE: 7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,690; loss: 1,930

This lengthy and difficult route is recommended for only the most experienced groups. We recommend using the first part of this route, then simply following Turquoise Lake Road and other roads that lead to Uncle Bud's Hut (see associate maps and routes to clarify).

For the Colorado Trail route: Follow the recommended and marked route down Glacier Creek (see above). At the 10,040-foot level in lower Glacier Creek take extra care to stick with the marked 10th Mountain route (blue diamonds). As the trail nears the creek, find the intersection of the Main Range/Colorado Trail with the Glacier Creek trail. This intersection is well marked, but many parties miss it because they don't pay attention to map and altimeter.

Follow the Main Range/Colorado Trail as it climbs out of Glacier Creek via an easterly traverse, then climbs N and NE through timber to timberline at 11,400 feet on the south ridge of Galena Mountain. The trail descends through glades from here to 11,200 feet, then takes a more gradual descent for 1/4 mile past the south edge of a small lake. Pass this lake and climb a short hill to pass between the two Galena Lakes.
From Galena Lakes ski the Main Range/Colorado Trail through a flat marshy area and climb for 1/4 mile to 11,240 feet. Swing E here through timber and make a short drop into Bud's Gulch, the watered drainage just west of Uncle Bud's Hut. Climb E up a short hill several hundred yards to the hut at 11,380 feet.

SAFETY NOTES: Use your map, compass, altimeter—and guidebook! Remember that wilderness trails are marked with tree blazes rather than blue plastic diamonds.

SUMMER: The Main Range/Colorado Trail is a fine hiking or horse route. Bicycles are not permitted in wilderness.


Skinner Hut to Uncle Bud's Hut via Busk Creek and Turquoise Lake Road
DIFFICULTY: Advanced
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Skinner Hut (see above)
TIME: 12 hours
DISTANCE: 13 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,680 feet; loss: 1,920 feet

This alternate route is extremely long. It is most useful in the event of an unusually severe overnight snowfall—when descending Glacier Creek and breaking trail on the Main Range/Colorado Trail would be too dangerous and arduous.

Reverse the Busk Creek route described above. As you ski around the north side of Turquoise Lake on the Turquoise Lake Road, identify your high point of 10,680 feet. Continue E down a gradual grade and level sections for 1 3/4 miles to 10,420 feet. Take a hard left here onto Road 107 and follow the 10th Mountain marked route to Uncle Bud's Hut.

With adroit map work it's possible to ski N from the Turquoise Lake Road high point up the drainage to Uncle Bud's Hut. This alternative is not recommended because the trail is rarely broken.

SAFETY NOTES: Start early. The trail follows Busk Creek to avoid avalanche slopes that cross the road. Do not attempt to cross the ice over Turquoise Lake.

SUMMER: Busk Creek has no obvious summer tread. All the roads mentioned above are navigable with high clearance 2-wheel drive.

Skinner Hut Regional Skiing

Near Skinner Hut
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate to Advanced
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Skinner Hut (see above)
10TH MTN MAP: Continental Divide, Upper Fryingpan
USGS MAP: Homestake Reservoir

Skinner Hut does sit in a spectacular location. Yet its ridgetop site precludes the easily accessed intermediate glade skiing that characterizes many other 10th Mountain Huts. Advanced and expert ski mountaineers will find plenty of options up on the Continental Divide. For intermediate skiing your can make a few turns S down to the Hagerman Pass Road. Stay out of the tempting gully that drops S from the road—it leads into steep cliffy terrain. For a mellow scenic tour, simply ski down the ridge E from the back porch of the hut. Re-skin and climb back to the hut when you reach dark timber. Another scenic tour follows reverse route 14.3 up to Hagerman Pass. Wander a short distance up the Continental Divide N or S from the pass. Advanced skiers will enjoy skiing the slopes in the bowl dropping east from Hagerman Pass. Take care with avalanche terrain in this area.

SAFETY NOTES: Be aware of the steep cliffy terrain surrounding the Skinner Hut, especially off the north side of the ridge.

SUMMER: Hike the old Hagerman rail grade as shown on the USGS map. Bicycle or auto-tour Hagerman Pass Road (high clearance 2-wheel drive).

Lyle Peak from the Skinner Hut
DIFFICULTY: Advanced
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAP: Skinner Hut (see above)
TIME: 8 hours round trip
DISTANCE: 9 1/2 miles round trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,309 feet round trip

Tired of skiing through forests? Try this branch route. Follow the road to Hagerman Pass. From the pass simply ski or walk the Continental Divide N, skirting the southwest side of Divide Peak (12,259 feet) to a prominent saddle on the Continental Divide. From the saddle follow the Divide for 2 miles NW and N to the summit of Lyle Peak (12,489 feet). Return via the same route.

SAFETY NOTES: This route sticks to the ridge to avoid avalanche terrain. With spring "frozen corn" conditions, consider skiing the bowl on the east side of Hagerman Pass. This route is very exposed, so only attempt it in good weather.

SUMMER: Walk the Continental Divide for a fine high altitude trek.




 
 
 
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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 due to human error or source errors, 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.

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