The Trail: Backcountry Ski Homestake Peak

Not every winter climb has to be an epic. Homestake Peak, a 13,209-foot summit straddling the Continental Divide at the far northern edge of the Sawatch Range, delivers a relatively accessible ski route with minimal avalanche danger and potential for powder. You can crank out this 13-mile roundtrip tour in a day, but we highly recommend making a weekend of it. Book early and spend the night at the cozy 10th Mountain Hut conveniently located in Homestake’s shadow. Multiple summer and winter routes lead to the hut and peak, but our description begins from the Crane Park Trailhead and follows Wurts Ditch and Slide Lake Roads, which we consider to be the most straightforward approach to the hut.

1. Crane Park Trailhead 

To reach the trailhead, travel south on Highway 24 from Leadville, Colorado. Drive past the summit of Tennessee Pass for 1.6 miles and turn right (west) off the highway onto a dirt road marked with a sign for Webster’s Sand and Gravel. Park here and start to ski or hike depending on conditions. Climb west gradually for just under one mile west along a main road until you reach an intersection with the Wurts Ditch Road.

2. Wurts Ditch Junction 

Head northwest (right) up the road for approximately .25 miles to reach another junction.

3. Colorado Trail Junction 

At this signed intersection, the Colorado Trail comes in from the northeast (right), crosses the road and continues southwest (left). To follow our route, stay straight (north) and continue ascending ever so gradually on the Wurts Ditch Road.

4. Slide Lake Road Intersection 

After another .5 miles, turn left at an intersection with Slide Lake Road (#145). (Depending on conditions and time of year, you may be able to drive all the way to this intersection and begin your ski tour from here.)

5. East to The Hut 

You can follow the road to the hut, but if it hasn’t snowed recently, a well-worn skin/snowshoe track typically strikes out from the road here, veering west (left) to guide you through the woods east of the hut.

6. 10th Mountain Division Hut 

After weaving your way in and out of the trees, you arrive at a welcoming log shelter perched high on a hillside near timberline. This inviting, rustic cabin rests at 11,370 feet and accesses unmatched terrain ranging from mellow glades to open bowls and rugged ridge runs. If you’re spending the night, get comfy inside and then explore the surroundings. Homestake Peak, which is the highest point in the basin, lies due west.

7. Ski south Away from Slide Lake 

From the hut, head north toward Slide Lake, curving west with the contour of the road. As the road nears Slide Lake, turn sharply left to continue southwest. For about a half-mile, work your way over mild, rolling, low-angled terrain hugging the basin bottom. (Note: The standard summer route for Homestake climbs behind the cabin to Slide Lake and then continues directly up a steep east-facing slope—dangerous and avalanche prone in winter—to reach an oft-corniced ridge north of Homestake. Follow our winter route to minimize these objective dangers.)

8. Cruise the Ridge

After following a gently sloping shoulder, you’ll reach the base of the east ridge. From here, the route, which climbs 1,400 more feet, is obvious. Leaving the trees behind, cruise along the ridge. It’s gradual enough to skin, though the last 200 feet may be too steep and icy, requiring a 10-minute boot pack.

9. Homestake Summit 

From the cone-shaped summit at 13,209 feet, take in the views and plan your descent (hopefully full of pow turns). Retracing your ascent route is safest, but in spring and/or corn-snow conditions, fabulous ski lines starting from 12,400 feet on the north face of the east ridge may be safe.


Light Ski Sock

Happy feet make for better adventures. Falling just below the knee, this moisture-wicking merino sock keeps your toes warm and dry. Plus, an innovative toe cup and heel lock mean they fit without slipping or causing blisters when you hit the skin track. $25 |






Medallion Night Shirt

Perfect for sleeping in a mountain hut, this luxuriously soft, eco-friendly women’s nighty made from cotton and bamboo keeps you warm on winter nights. It provides coverage all the way to mid-thigh, so you can feel comfortable wearing it with or without bottoms no matter who else is staying at the hut. $47 |


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