10th Mountain Hut Ski and Snowshoe Trip above Leadville, Colorado
January 21-26, 2007
Trip Leader and
Participants: Judy & Dick Opsahl, Bart Daly, Steve Reneau, Rick Light, Jeff Click, Kirsten Boudreau, Chick & Yvonne Keller, Kelly Gallagher & Don Krier, Kurt Short, Judy
Buckingham, and Cosima Leedom & Jan Studebaker
here, Jan Studebaker, Kirsten Boudreau, Dick Opsahl,
Kelly Gallagher, Bart Daly
Route Map: click
Our 2007 trip was
to one of the best huts in the 10th Mountain System; the 10th
Mountain Hut is located at 11,400 feet and nestled at timberline
just below the majestic peaks of the Colorado Continental
Divide. This hut was completed during the summer of 1989,
and was built in honor of the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S.
Army. The hut is owned and rented by the
Mountain Division Hut Association.
The ski in
required a 4 1/2 mile backpack from the outskirts of Leadville,
Colorado, starting at the Crane Park Trailhead off Colorado 24.
The route was on a beautiful narrow trail the entire way.
The hut is very deluxe, accommodates 16 skiers, has two gas
stoves for food preparation, a wood stove for heat, two great
out-houses, mattresses for sleeping, and views that are
inspiring. Overall, it was extremely reminiscent of many
other 10th Mountain huts.
Jeff Click nearing the "10th
Mountain Hut" on day one.
After failing the lottery to
reserve a hut for the ’07 trip, the 10th Mountain schedule
people took pity on us and offered us three nights in January at
the 10th Mountain hut. The three days, Monday night
through Wednesday night, did not fit so well in our weekend
plan, but we took it anyway. Invitations were given first
to those who had participated in our ’06 trip, then to those who
had participated in previous trips, and the 16 places on the
trip were quickly filled. A few changes occurred in the fall and
early winter. During December, Dick circulated the
proposed meal assignments and Jan 10 was set for a potluck
dinner and final menu negotiation at Opsahl’s house.
A bit of Dick’s home brew set the
stage at the Jan 10 potluck. Menus for our three
breakfasts and three dinners that took into consideration the
gluten-free, vegetarian, and no sugar needs of the various
participants were set up. We also set up transportation
ride pools to leave Los Alamos at about 10AM Sunday to assure
arrival at the Delaware Hotel in Leadville in time for our
traditional 4PM cocktail hour in Room 202. Most arrived in
time to participate in the cocktail hour, and at 6PM we went
downstairs for the banquet of salad, chicken, lasagna, fresh
asparagus, wine, and dessert, orchestrated by Rachel, our
hostess at the Delaware, and superbly prepared by John, the
Chef. Well satisfied by that meal, we all retired to bed
by 9 PM.
Kurt Short trudging to the
summit after giving up on his skies
due to pockets of rocks and other hazards.
Monday morning everyone dragged
themselves out of bed in time for a 6:30AM breakfast, another
feast of cereals, toast, yoghurt, boiled eggs, omelets and
bacon. We then brought our excess baggage to Orlyn
Skrein’s house on 10th Street by 8AM. Meanwhile, one
member of our group, Bob Williams learned that his mother was
seriously ill and at a hospital in Pennsylvania. Bob had
to drop out and make arrangements for a cab to Denver and a
flight East. With these and other logistics, we got to the
trailhead between 9:30 and 10:00, and all were underway by
10:30. The day had dawned clear and cold, but the sun
shortly warmed it to comfortable skiing temperatures, and the
trip in was uneventful. By 2 PM everyone was safely at the
hut. Kurt Short made 3 “saves” by going down from the hut and
carrying up the backpacks of those who were struggling.
Total distance 7.44Km. Chick and Yvonne Keller, who came to
Leadville and skied up to the hut, planning to ski back down
that afternoon, decided to spent the night since there was room.
They slept next to the stove and with donations of a few bits of
warm clothes to help keep them warm, spent a comfortable night.
Tuesday dawned another beautiful
windless clear day. After a breakfast of omelets made from Judy
Buckingham’s home dehydrated eggs, the group divided into
several parties. The Kellers skied down to Leadville, Dick
Opsahl and Bart Daly headed off to climb Homestake Peak (13,200
ft), Dick on snowshoes and Bart on skies. Bart made it the
whole way. Dick, after post holing in deep snow despite
his snowshoes, abandoned the climb and returned to the hut.
Jan Studebaker led a larger group of Kurt Short, Steve Reneau,
Don Krier, Kelly Gallagher, and Jeff Click, up a nearby peak
north-east of Homestake Peak, making it to one of the sub peaks
(about 12,600 ft). Meanwhile Rick Light, Kristen Boudreau,
and Judy Buckingham went up to Slide Lake for Tele skiing.
They were joined later by Judy Opsahl and Cosima Leedom on X-C
skis. We were all back at the hut by 4:30 for wine, snacks
and hot soup followed by chicken fajita dinner.
Judy Buckingham turns in perfect form
above Slide Lake Basin.
Wednesday was again a beautiful,
but less ambitious day. A number of us went to Slide Lake
to do some tele turns and take photos. Another group went
toward Uncle Bud’s for a few tele turns and to enjoy the lower
open areas. All were back to 10th Mountain by mid
afternoon for snacks (it was warm enough to eat them outside on
the deck) and Judy Opsahl’s hot soup.
Thursday morning we all packed up
our gear and did the final clean-up prior to departure.
The “slow guys” enjoyed the first departures in an attempt to
have a uniform arrival time to the car park. We had a
reasonable success and our arrivals were not very much
separated. After some pack-up we all got underway and
drove straight away to friend Orlyn’s house on 10th street.
Orlyn was ready for us with his usual magnificent lunch spread
of fancy sandwiches, hot soup and lots of quality local beer.
Luckily our cars each had designated drivers. The ride home was
again in perfect weather blue sky and no wind. After a
brief stop mid way home for ice cream and the NY Times we
arrived back to Los Alamos just at dusk.
While at the hut, the Opsahls
announced that this would be their last winter trip to the hut
system. They will continue to lead lots of spring summer
and fall multi day trips but no more heavy back trips to remote
places. This was Dick’s 7th winter hut trip and age 75 is
old enough. Kathleen Gruetzmacher has agreed to continue the
tradition and take over leadership. Orlyn Skrien at
Leadville has told us that his house is available for future
trips and our friend at he Delaware, Rachel, is waiting for us
to make the date for 2008.
here for a few photos from our adventures.