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Los Alamos Mountaineers 5th Annual
X-ctry and Snowshoe to the 10th Mountain Hut

February 11-16, 2006

Leaders: Dick and Judy Opsahl

Trip Participants: David Chamberlin and Jeri Sullivan, Mark & Lynn Jones, Rick and Shari Kelley, Kurt Short, Kathleen Gruetzmacher, Josh Siler and Anne Chamberlin, Jeff Click, Kirsten Boudreau, Dick and Judy Opsahl, and Jan Studebaker

Author:  Dick and Judy Opsahl, with editing assistance from Kathleen Greutzmacher

Photo Gallery: Jan Studebaker, click here.

Route Map: click here

This year the hut trip was to the hut called the 10th Mountain Hut. We had done well in the lottery about a year ago and this one was our first choice out of about 50 possibilities we sent in. Dates of the trip were February 11 to February 16. As usual there was a significant demand for space on the trip and we were full from the date of the first announcement late March 2005.

Saturday’s drive to our first night’s accommodation at the Historic Delaware Hotel was uneventful but a bit surprising because there was almost no snow until we arrived at Leadville. Our local friend, Orlyn Skrien, joined us for the evening banquet and Sunday’s breakfast. Our standard private banquet was exceptional and followed by our leader’s endless lecture about logistics and safety procedures. Then, all to bed to be ready for the early start up the mountain Sunday morning.

Kurt Short in front of  the 10th Mountain Hut.

Despite the fact that there was almost no snow south of Leadville, within the city there was much more than a normal amount and, in fact, so much that we could not leave our cars at Orlyn’s house. So we reluctantly decided to leave the cars at the Crane Park Trailhead.

By about 10 AM all of the logistics were sorted out and all 15 of us were on our way up the trail. Fourteen were on skis. One was on snowshoes. Not long up the trail the skiers put on their skins and used them for all of the steep sections. We kept track of our progress with Rick Kelly’s map and waypoints along the trail, except for one trail intersection that was not clear. There a few people took the wrong turn and went a mile before discovering they were on the wrong trail. The trip in, for those who didn’t take unintended detours, was about 4.5 miles along a partly forested route. Snow conditions were good and the weather conditions perfect with very light wind and blue sky. By mid afternoon, the hot shots arrived at the hut and made things ready for the rest of us. A short while later the especially strong organized a relay to help the stragglers with their heavy packs and to make sure the 5 liters of red got up without harm.

Sunday night’s dinner was smashing and the red abundant. At the same time we began our adventure with HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema). One of our participants from sea level Portland, was fine at 10,000 ft Leadville but the additional 1400 ft gain put him over the edge with headache, no appetite etc. We kept close watch but when a day of rest did not produce much improvement, we decided to evacuate him on Tuesday.

Now back to the normal program:

By 10 AM Monday 10 stalwarts were out on the trails once again in perfect weather. Two besides the young man with HAPE were not feeling well from colds and stayed home. They rested and did projects and photography around the house. Kathleen Greutzmacher and Shari Kelly climbed to the top of Homestake Peak a 13er, on snowshoes. And had good conditions to the summit. Others skied the slopes near to hut and above, by Slide Lake.

Tuesday, the HAPE rescue party of 4 went down to the trailhead. The 2 with colds stayed home manning the radio communication. At the lower altitude of the trailhead he already felt better, and after an easy trip down he and his companion made a speedy automobile descent to 7,000 ft Buena Vista where his recovery was soon complete. The other 2 came back up to the hut, arriving in time for Tuesday night dinner.

Kristen Boudreau in here nearly finished one person igloo.

Kristen Boudreau worked hard all day building an igloo project and the rest of the group struck out toward Uncle Bud’s hut. The weather started out with light snow and wind, but cleared during the day. The Tuesday dinner like all the others was again a smashing success. And, the red managed to hold out; just barely enough.

Overnight Tuesday we received about 4” of new snow making conditions for the departure descent on Wednesday perfect. The “slower” people got a half hour head start and the stronger completed the close up chores by about 10 AM. The new snow enabled the telemark guys, Jan Studebaker, Jeff Click, and Kurt Short, to get quite a few turns on the way down.

Our playground minutes from the 10th Mountain Hut.

By 12 noon we were loaded at the car park (trailhead) and proceeded to Orlyn’s house for the usual Wednesday lunch feast. The completely recovered HAPE crew drove up from low altitude Buena Vista to meet us for lunch.

The drive back to Los Alamos was in a windstorm enough for a traffic advisory. Gusts were as much as 60 mph. We had had similar windy conditions for the drive north, but during the “hut” part of the trip Sunday through Wednesday morning there was practically no wind at all.

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Jan Studebaker

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