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LA Mountaineers

10th Mountain Hut Ski and Snowshoe Trip above Leadville, Colorado

January 21-26, 2007

Trip Leader and Author
: Dick Opsahl

Trip 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

Photo Gallery: click here, Jan Studebaker, Kirsten Boudreau, Dick Opsahl, Kelly Gallagher, Bart Daly

Route Map: click here

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 10th 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.  Click here for a few photos from our adventures.


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