10th (Tenth) Mountain Division Huts and Summit Huts Online Guidebook
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Tagert and Green-Wilson Huts

ELEVATION: 11,240 feet (Tagert), 11,280 (Green-Wilson)
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAP: (see below)
GPS: 39.00380 -106.83960 (Tagert)
TRAILHEADS: Ashcroft
10TH MTN OFFICAL MAP: Star Peak
USGS MAPS: Hayden Peak, Aspen, Pearl Pass, Cement Mountain, Crested Butte, Gothic

Tagert Hut, Alfred Braun Hut System
Tagert Hut front porch, Slate Mountain and Montezuma Basin rise behind.

These are huts the way huts should be. Tagert and Green-Wilson Huts are located just below timberline in vast Pearl Basin, at the foot of such grand peaks as 14,265-foot Castle and 13,521-foot Star.

You can enjoy all manner of adventure while based at these hostels, from mellow treks through the hills of alpine basins, to extreme rated descents on the precipices of nearby alps and ridges.

Tagert Hut is named after old-time Aspenite Billy Tagert (1873-1976). Tagert ran away from home as a child, came barefoot to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1883, and worked ranches in the Capitol Creek area as he grew up. He became an entrepreneur, and in 1905 started a stage line to Ashcroft and Dorchester in Taylor Park. Tagert contracted to carry the mail between Dorchester and Ashcroft.

When Dorchester became a ghost town several years later, the existing postmaster, Alex Malmgreen, survived by abusing the postal system and having all his supplies, including horse feed, shipped by parcel post from Ashcroft. Tagert rectified this ridiculous situation by visiting Malmgreen, getting him drunk, then taking all the post office equipment while Malmgreen slept off his hangover. Tagert hauled all the equipment over Taylor Pass for delivery to the Ashcroft Postmaster.

Tagert liked to recreate in the upper Castle Creek valley, and in the 1920s he and friends formed a casual winter club known as the “Eskimos.” Somehow Tagert took ownership (or at least control) of the old dam tender’s cabin at the head of Castle Creek (later used by Otto Schniebs, see chapter introduction). After being used for many years by hunters, skiers and mountaineers, the cabin became decrepit and was replaced by the present Tagert Hut structure in 1960, which was then refurbished in 1995. Green-Wilson Hut was built near the Tagert in 1978, for added capacity, it is also recently refurbished.


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Tagert and Green-Wilson Huts from Ashcroft via Pearl Pass Road

Climb rating: Moderate, climbing skins required
Ski rating: Intermediate
UTSKI.COM FREE MAP: Braun Huts (see above)
Starting elevation: 9,500 feet
Summit elevation: 11,280 (Green-Wilson)
Time: 5 hours
Distance: 6 miles
Elevation gain: 1,780 feet

Start from Ashcroft Trailhead. From Ashcroft ski, walk, drive or snowmobile (depending on conditions and desires) 2 miles up the Castle Creek Road to a Y intersection. Park snowmobiles here. Head up the right arm of the Y, usually signed as Pearl Pass Road (possible sign for Tagert Hut). Stay on Pearl Pass Road as it passes under various fearsome avalanche paths. You’ll come to the private Mace Chalet at 10,860 feet. From this point on, the route changes from a valley and road tour to a more alpine challenge.

Continue up the road from the Mace Chalet. It cuts through forest, then crosses Castle Creek at 11,000 feet. You’re exposed to huge avalanche paths here. Stay on the roadcut as it climbs to a switchback, then heads back SW to another switchback at 11,120 feet. Continue up the road for a few hundred feet. There may be a sign here indicating the route to Tagert Hut. You have two choices here. To reduce avalanche exposure, leave the road via the route indicated by the sign, then as soon as possible ski to the left (S) and climb the tree cutline up the edge of the avalanche path. Doing so will lead you to a small bump that people often have to sidestep up. Just past the bump you’ll come to Tagert and Green-Wilson Huts (11,240 feet; 11,280 feet). Only travel this route during times of moderate or low avalanche danger.

Tagert & Green-Wilson Huts Regional Skiing

Tagert Hut Practice Slope
Climb rating: Easy skins
Ski rating: Intermediate
Starting elevation: 11,250 feet
Summit elevation: 11,700 feet
Elevation gain: 450 feet
Round trip distance: 1 mile

Every hut has its practice slope. For this one, leave from the Tagert or Green-Wilson Hut and continue up Pearl Pass Road to timberline. Basically, as you climb the road you’ll be looking at the Practice Slope to your right. After about 400 vertical feet of climbing, the road will curve westerly and lead you to the top of the Practice Slope. Do laps if you’ve got the legs. It’s common to set a skin track up the Practice Slope, rather than using the road. Be mindful of avalanche paths dropping off the knoll forming the west side of Practice Slope; ditto for the steep slopes dropping from the road on the east side. Also note that it’s possible during high hazard for huge avalanches to drop on parts of Practice Slope from higher slopes to the west.

Dunaway’s Run
Climb rating: Harder skins, easy boots
Ski rating: Advanced
Starting elevation: 11,250 feet
Summit elevation: 13,050 feet
Elevation gain: 1,800 feet
Trip distance: 3 miles

This terrific spring circuit tour is named after pioneer Aspen backcountry skier Bil Dunaway, who told other backcountry skiers of the fine adventures he had on this route in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It kisses 14, 265 foot Castle Peak’s impressive east face.

Start at the base of Practice Slope (see above) Head SW up a major drainage which swings W and leads toward Castle Peak. Once you’re in the basin nestled below Castle’s east face, move N and head over obvious 13,050-foot Robin Saddle (named after Dunaway's deceased daughter). Being careful of cliff bands and avalanche slopes, descend from the pass N down into the Montezuma drainage. Glisse the Montezuma Valley and work your way back to the hut.

Backyard Slope
Climb rating: Easy skins
Ski rating: Advanced, S4
Recommended seasons: Spring snow
Starting elevation: 11,250 feet
Summit elevation:12, 160 feet
Elevation gain: 1,280 feet
Round trip distance: 2 miles
Day trip? Yes

Another fine spring circuit tour, this route starts from Mace Saddle on the route to Pearl Pass and Mace Peak (see below). It drops a northerly drainage, ending at a broad avalanche fan near the Mace Chalet. The route was named by early Ashcroft skiers such as Otto Schniebs and Andre Roch.

Ski southerly past Tagert Hut, continue past Green-Wilson Hut a few hundred yards farther, and climb Pearl Pass Road up past Practice Slope. Use the road as a route to timberline—it is usually well-traveled by hut users.

After timberline the route is harder to follow and may require careful map reading for first-timers. A GPS unit could be useful as well. In general, the route follows the summer road to Mace Saddle at 12,160 feet. In reality, you don’t have to go all the way to the saddle; just get close. It’s important to note that Mace Saddle is actually a pass on the divide between Castle Creek and Cooper Creek. Several somewhat clueless skiers have mistaken this for Pearl Pass and ended up in the deadly confines of Cooper Creek dodging avalanches and jumping logs.

Once you’re located on or near Mace Saddle, head N down a drainage that cuts the side of the valley and drops you to Pearl Pass Road just above Mace Chalet at 10,880 feet. The route starts out wide, low-angled and nondescript, but funnels you to ever steepening terrain that’s more demanding than the route’s name indicates. In other words, for this backyard you can leave your rider mower at home.

Mace Peak
Climb rating: Moderate skins, Harder boots
Ski rating: Intermediate, S3-
Recommended seasons: All with snowcover
Starting elevation: 11,250 feet
Summit elevation: 12,528 feet
Elevation gain: 1,278 feet
Round trip distance: 2 ½ miles

With good route finding, you can do this ascent without crossing any avalanche starting zones; thus, it can be a reasonable midwinter climb. Ski Pearl Pass Road to Mace Saddle. Do a short and sometimes knee-deep boot climb up the ridge NE from the saddle (most groups leave skis at the saddle). The first summit you reach is where most people stop. The true summit is the intimidating rocky bump farther along the ridge; reaching it requires a bit of 4th class scrambling, perhaps with a rope. Descend your ascent route. For extremists, several interesting couloirs drop to the north from the ridgetop. Such avalanche-prone routes are best enjoyed on a compacted spring snowpack, but they do get skied during times of lower avalanche hazard during winter months.

Pearl Basin Oberland
Climb rating: Easy skins
Ski rating: Intermediate, varies with exact route
Recommended seasons: All with snowcover
Starting elevation: 11,250 feet
Summit elevation: 12,300 feet, varies with exact route
Elevation gain: 1,100 feet, varies with exact route
Round trip distance: About 4 miles, varies with exact route

Pearl Basin is an awe-inspiring alpine shelf curving about 3 miles between Castle Peak and Pearl Pass. If you’re after a winter alpine touring experience with minimal avalanche danger, you can gain the basin from Tagert or Green-Wilson Hut via Pearl Pass Road (see routes above), then simply branch either E or W, staying out from under avalanche paths and enjoying the rolling terrain of the basin. Return via your ascent route, with slight variations you eyed on the way up. Take care upon return not to stray into steeper terrain, and be aware that ground blizzards and low clouds can turn an easy tour into a life-threatening epic. To prevent such misfortune, use careful map reading, bring a compass and consider carrying and properly using a GPS unit. The coordinates of Green-Wilson Hut are 39 00.179’ N, 106 50.311’ W.

West Pearl Mountain
Climb rating: Harder skins
Ski rating: Advanced, S4-
Recommended seasons: Late winter or spring
Starting elevation: 11,250 feet
Summit elevation: 13,312
Elevation gain: 2,062 feet
Round trip distance:
Day trip? Yes

There are two Pearl Mountains you can reach from Pearl Basin. West Pearl Mountain (13,312 feet) is the tempting snowy peak you view looking south from the Tagert and Green-Wilson Huts. East Pearl Mountain, the higher monarch of the Pearl Pass Ridge, is clear when viewed from Mace Saddle.

Pick a day with low avalanche danger for a climb and descent of West Pearl Mountain From Tagert and Green-Wilson Huts, ski the Pearl Pass Road to about 11,800 feet in Pearl Basin. Leave the Pearl Pass route and keep heading toward West Pearl Mountain, with slight variations through a series of small depressions in the basin. Once at the foot of the peak, either do a series of steep traverses on skis or boot up wind-blown ribs and talus to avoid possibly wind loaded avalanche slopes. Descend lines you spotted on the way up. The broad slopes are classic, and a fine couloir drops from the summit a bit farther west.

Pearl Mountain High Route
Climb rating: Harder skins
Ski rating: Advanced, S4+
Recommended seasons: Late winter or spring
Starting elevation: 11,250 feet
Summit elevation: 13,362
Elevation gain: About 3,500 feet, varies with exact route
Trip distance: 8 ½ miles

Expert glissers with superb avalanche safety skills should pick a good day and spend it on this low level flight over Pearl Basin. The route is described here as if swinging through Friends Hut for tea, but can be done by cutting higher to Pearl Pass, thus avoiding most of the climb back up from Friends Hut. This author had a good trip on this route in late winter 1995 with blue skies, stable snow and the added excitement of a telemarker with skis on the wrong feet who fell part way down the steep section. Lesson: Keep your ducks in order, or your feet might look like one.

Begin by climbing to the summit of West Pearl Mountain (see route above). Traverse moderate ground along the ridge E down to a high saddle (12,900 feet). Some folks call this “Fakie Saddle.” Why? Not because of a snowboard stunt which could be done off numerous rocks in the area But because in well known ski alpinist Lou Dawson's own younger “jiber” days, with his map and compass safely stowed in the bottom of his pack, Lou thought ol’ “Fakie” was Pearl Pass and skied over it, entirely missing his intended route and drainage. No doubt you’ll do better.

From Fakie Saddle, head up the ridge to Pearl Mountain (13,362 feet). Mosey (actually, a better word is scramble) around rocks a few hundred yards down the ridge E from Pearl’s summit. You’ll soon come to a notch where the ridge ahead looks terrifying. Leave fear behind by descending off the ridge S down an obvious couloir, which drops 400 vertical feet to lower-angled terrain. Keep going until you’re a few hundred feet above a small lake.

From above the lake, take a gradually descending traverse E to Carbonate Saddle (12,400 feet) and Pearl Pass Road (which will be somewhat disguised by snow). Catch a gander E from Carbonate Saddle, and notice the large shelf that runs around the north side of the huge basin under your feet. That shelf is your route to Friends Hut.

Taking care not to descend too low, trend left as you make easterly turns down from Carbonate Saddle for about 350 vertical feet. Now take a huge northerly dropping traverse N then E around the head of the basin, the idea being to use the large shelf you so handily spotted from Carbonate Saddle. (Use the first part of this traverse to get positioned below Pearl Pass if you’d like to skip the Friends Hut portion of the route.) Once you’re about ¾ mile along the traverse, the terrain starts to swing you S. That’s when you make turns down to Friends Hut, located at 11,400 feet and somewhat hidden in timberline conifers on the east arm of East Brush Creek. Refer to the text map to clarify this whole maneuver.

Once at the hut, make tea and do your volunteer work. Responsible groups can obtain the hut combination for safety and convenience, even if they are not staying the night. To do so, contact 10th Mountain Hut Association and explain that you’d like to do a few hours of roof or deck shoveling for the Friends Hut Incorporated. They’ll in turn get you in contact with the Friends Hut maintenance director, who will weigh your request with fairness and equability.

After tea (skip the hot toddies ‘till you’re back home), slap on your skins and trudge 1,305 vertical feet up to Pearl Pass, which is at the head of the basin you used the high shelf to get around. From Pearl Pass, descend steep terrain a few hundred vertical feet, then descend low-angled terrain about ¾ mile N, staying at the left (west) head of the huge Cooper Creek Basin (which forms the eastern reaches of Pearl Basin Oberland). While still in the upper reaches of Cooper Basin, take a contour and short climb northwesterly to Mace Saddle, then follow the Pearl Pass jeep trail down to Tagert and Green-Wilson Huts. For more detail on Pearl Basin, see other routes in this section of HutSki.com.

Only attempt this route during times of low avalanche hazard, and remember that wind can create dangerous pocket slabs on any slopes in the upper basins. This is another reason to assess avalanche danger yourself instead of relying on blanket assessments done by public avalanche information centers. For intricate mountain travel, their evaluations are nothing more than a general guideline and can be highly misleading. As one crusty hardcore by the name of Subpeak is said to have muttered, “When the snow crystal voodoo boys in their office can tell me how thick the wind slab is on Pearl Pass, I’ll eat my synthetic boxers!”

Montezuma Basin
Climb rating: Harder skins
Ski rating: Advanced, S3
Recommended seasons: Spring or summer
Summit elevation: 13,400 feet
Elevation gain: About 2,000 vertical feet, depending on exact route.
Round trip distance: About 6 miles, depending on high point.

One of the largest permanent snowfields in the central Colorado Rockies, Montezuma Basin is nothing less than one of the Elk Mountain’s Seven Wonders. It’s a terrific place for summer skiing and yields access to several fine 14,000 and 13,000 foot peaks.

Please be mindful of the fact that Montezuma Basin in winter is somewhat of an avalanche death trip, so stay out of this area unless conditions are ultra stable. From Tagert & Goodwin Green huts, simply ski back down the Pearl Pass Road to its intersection with the Montezuma Basin road, then swing left and head up into the basin. A logical stopping point is a flat area with a classic glacial tarn (13,400 feet). If your skill and conditions dictate, climb Castle Peak.

After the roads melt off (June or late May) you can 4-wheel-drive to Montezuma snowfield, or at least partway. Pearl Pass Road to Mace Chalet is fine for any high clearance 4-wheel-drive vehicle. The road above is still driveable in a standard 4x4, but is more dangerous and takes more skill. Do not attempt these roads with a low clearance “all-wheel-drive” type vehicle.


 

 
 
 
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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.

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.