Astay in Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Hut system should include some adventure, and this trip gives you everything from powder turns to pathfinding. It’s tough—but that’s why we like it. Day one starts with a steep, easy-to-follow, 5.8-mile climb to Uncle Bud’s hut, perched at 11,380 feet. Day two, covers 7 miles to reach Skinner Hut (11,620 feet), whose alpine locale offers up outstanding turns.
Note: We recommend the route only for accomplished skiers with solid routefinding, and avalanche education skills and smarts.
From Leadville, drive 2.8 miles west on Mountain View Drive to a “T” intersection (CR 9). Turn north (right) and drive .5 miles to the Turquoise Lake Trailhead. Gear up, cross the railroad tracks and follow the main road/trail west.
Weave past a series of campgrounds and picnic areas.
About 3 ½ miles from the trailhead, turn right (north) onto a well-defined road cut (FR 107).
Go straight at the junction with Trail 103/ Kevin’s Gulch. Cross under the powerline; follow the route as it contours west to a flat spot offering a respite and views of the Arkansas Valley.
Head west along the ridge to find the route turns north again before leaving the road for the final climb to the hut.
Uncle Bud’s Hut
After skiing northwest through thinning trees, reach this hut built in memoriam of Bud Winter (1925-1945), a 10th Mountain Division solidier and accomplished mountaineer killed during WWII. Turns await on the large basin to the west, the east ridge of Galena Mountain or Saint Kevin’s Gulch, which offers easy treeless terrain.
Hit the Trail
After a good night’s sleep, leave Uncle Bud’s to descend slightly into the basin west of the hut. Pick up the Colorado Trail (marked by blue diamonds) heading west.
A half-mile later, intersect with a trail heading northwest to St. Kevin’s Lake. Turn left to stay south on the main trail. Descend and cross the basin north of Galena and Bear Lakes. Climb switchbacks to reach timberline on Galena Mountain’s south ridge. From here begin a circuitous descent: The trail begins on an open slope, but then enters the trees (pay attention!) and slides down the Lake Fork drainage to 10,000 feet.
You reach a clearing where Timberline Lake Trail begins and Colorado Trail signs signify the start of an arduous ascent. Head west and then south to follow Glacier Creek.
The route oscillates between tight trees and small clearings until it reaches a large meadow. At its edge, continue southwest to gain even more altitude.
At the edge of another clearing, turn southeast to tackle a series of forested, steep, awkward switchbacks that climb to Hagerman Pass Road at 11,600 feet.
Cross the road twice consecutively to reach the ridge. Turn northeast and traverse the crest trail (blue diamonds).
Relax and enjoy a drink from your perch looking out on the 14,036-foot summit of Mount Sherman. Hagerman Pass and the Continental Divide allow expert access to higher peaks while intermediates will love turning down to the Hagerman Pass Road or skiing the ridge that heads east. When you have to leave, return the way you came or for a fun downhill ski, follow the marked trail down to about 10,200 feet, swing right (east) off the marked trail, then ski clearings and a line-cut down to the Turquoise Lake Road.
K2 WayBack/TalkBack 96
Struggling to decide between a ski light enough for climbing and one beefy enough to float through the deep stuff? Don’t. This lightweight, durable, all-around backcountry ski—which comes with pre-cut skins—merges a lightweight core with durable maple stringers. That makes for a nimble ride that boogies on the skin track, but still delivers the smooth powder turns you worked so hard to earn. $850; k2skis.com
Klymit Luxe Pillow
A little comfort goes a long way in that hut. This six-ounce travel and camping pillow is far better than messing with a down jacket in a stuff sack. It stays in place, it’s soft and it has the perfect amount of cushioning.