|Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Hut Skiing
How do I hire a guide?
It's relatively easy to hire a guide for skiing Colorado huts, though you must plan in advance. Guides or anyone else providing paid-for services at the huts must have a U.S. Forest Service permit, usually an "Outfitter's Permit." The permitted guide services:
What kind of maps do I need for hut travel?
In the case of the 10th Mountain Huts and Summit Huts, our HutSki.com free annotated topo maps are as good as anything you can get. For the easiest reading, print them in color using a waterproof ink and paper printing system. Otherwise, laminate them or store in a waterproof ziplock bag while in the field. Since our maps are sized as 8 1/2 x 11, laminating is an excellent option.
Another alternative is to print maps with a grayscale laser printer. This results in ink that's not water soluble, but you loose all the colors that make our maps easy to read.
Note that 10th Mountain Huts Association sells maps that use the same USGS base maps we do and are larger sized than ours, but have less annotated information. We suggest using our HutSki.com maps of course, and they're free!
Some maps show sideways on my computer screen. What's wrong?
This is intentional. Rather than fiddling with printer settings to get horizontal format maps to print vertically in a standard office printer, we've made the choice to present all maps in vertical format. While the sideways maps are slightly more difficult to read on your computer screen, the important thing is that they print easily and correctly so you can prepare for your hut trip!
When I print HutSki.com topo maps, the horizontal ones just use half a page of paper instead of printing sideways, what do I do?
Look for a printer setting that tells your printer to print in "landscape" mode rather than "portrait." If you're using Internet Explorer as a web browser, that setting is reached by clicking "file" on the main menu, then "page setup." If that doesn't work, if you're using our Flashpaper, once you click on the Flashpaper print icon, then adjust "preferences" to print "landscape" or "portrait."
Begin with double clicking the Flashpaper print icon, as shown above. Then set to "Landscape" or "Portrait" using your printer "Preferences" or settings.
Do I need to use a GPS unit for hut travel?
We are fond of GPS units for emergency use, or for finding confusing trail junctions and other important points. For step-by-step navigation of 10th Mountain hut routes they are usually unnecessary since you'll be following a marked and most often broken trail. Thus, we recommend noting important waypoints on your map and programming those points into your GPS before a trip. If you get confused, pull your GPS out, turn it on, and see if you're anywhere close to that trail junction.
Heavier use of a GPS is frequently useful for other huts in Colorado that involve travel on unmarked trails, such as routes above timberline. In those cases we HIGHLY recommend astute and well-planned use of a GPS unit. For example, many of the Alfred Braun huts fall into this category.
Above all, carry extra batteries and prepare your unit at home -- you don't want to be entering waypoints in the dark in a snowstorm!
Why do you use UTM coordinates for GPS, and how do I convert from what I'm used to?
We like UTM notation because it's easier to write and publish on maps than some of the other notation methods, and is the same notation used for the coordinate grid on USGS topo maps. The worst notation system, in our opinion, is using degrees/minuets/seconds, ie., 39° 17' 30" . That method is mental torture. Better is decimal degrees, ie., 39 20.728'. But UTM is best in our opinion.
To convert between methods: If you have computer mapping software you can usually use your software's waypoint system to convert coordinates by first entering the coordinates as a waypoint, then changing the notation method in the software settings. You can also find many conversion tools on the web, just search for a term such as "convert gps coordinates."
Can I use snowshoes for a hut trip?
Depends on the route. Snowshoes work fine on any of the more traveled trails because even after storms you'll have a base to hold you up from sinking into the snowpack. When going off-trail, snowshoes may work poorly in mid-winter Colorado snow that has not been previously traveled and packed. Exact performance depends on density of the snowpack, sometimes it'll hold you up well -- sometimes it won't. For snowshoe friendly trails, just look for routes we call "10th Mountain Recommended," as these tend to be the more popular trails and are usually packed to at least some extent.
Can I make cell phone calls at the huts or while on the trails?
Cell coverage is spotty in general for backcountry skiing locations in Colorado, but we recommend bringing at least one cell phone per party. In the event of an emergency, you may be able to climb to a highpoint and make a call, or travel to a different location where the phone works. More, phones do work at a number of huts, Eiseman for example (depending on your carrier).
Backcountry phone etiquette: Make cell phone calls outside the huts so as not to disturb other travelers looking to escape the hubbub of normal life. If you're concerned about staying in touch or having reliable emergency communication, the standard solution is a satellite phone, these can easily be purchase or rented.
Are dogs allowed at the huts you cover on this website?
Dogs are NOT allowed at any of the huts we cover here at HutSki.com. It is legal to bring a leashed dog on the trails that connect the huts, but they must to be left leashed outside the boundaries of the hut property or special use area. Thus, DO NOT bring a dog if you are overnighting at a hut. It's worth mentioning that dogs on ski trails are problematic. They ruin the surface of the trail, and their waste is an unpleasant and unhealthy addition to the decor. We suggest leaving your dog at home if you're traveling on established ski touring trails.
What about printed guidebooks for the huts?
While no in-print detailed guidebook exists for the Friends Hut or Braun Huts, the following book does a good job of covering the 10th Mountain Huts and Summit Huts.
The 10th Mountain Hut Book, by Warren Ohlrich
Covers most of the 10th Mountain system huts and Summit huts. By well known Colorado guidebook author Warren Ohlrich. Our mission here at HutSki.com is to provide high quality maps, lots of how-to info -- and brief route descriptions. Ohrich's book fills the gap by providing beautifully detailed route descriptions that include everything from numerous GPS coordinates to how things look as you pass a given section of trail. What's really cool about this book and deserves our support is that Ohlrich took the time over just one season to ski nearly every 10th Mountain hut related route known, and thus is able to present the most up-to-date view of the system ever placed between two pages. This is a terrific gift for any hut skier you know -- and if you hut ski yourself, an essential part of your equipment stash.
Buy at Vintage Ski World
Buy at Amazon.com
Can I snowmobile to the huts?
All of Colorado's backcountry ski/snowshoe "human powered recreation" huts discourage snowmobile access. Thus, snowmobile use for hut access is not common, though snowmobiles are used on occasion to reach huts with nearby legal snowmobile trails. HutSki.com recommends not using snowmobiles for hut trips. Indeed, most huts are so close to trailheads that you can easily man-haul more gear and food than you'll ever need, especially if you use cargo sleds.
Most huts have a non-motorized envelope around the hut where snowmobiles are not allowed, and these areas are frequently quite large. Thus, even if you use a snowmobile, you'll still have to man-haul your load some distance to the hut.
Snowmobiles are sometimes used to assist trips with disabled folks or senior citizens; this can be discussed and arranged with the folks at 10th Mountain Huts or other associated hut ownership entity.
If you do choose to use a snowmobile for hut access, the most important things are, first, to choose a hut that's accessible via well used and legal snowmobile trails (usually roads that are open to automobile traffic in summer), beyond that be courteous to other users on multi-use trails, park the machine outside the non-motorized envelope, and use your snowmobile only for gear hauling rather than moving people (unless you're helping folks who truly need motorized transport).
Some backcountry skiers and other human powered recreators harbor significant animosity towards snowmobilers. We suggest leaving those feelings at home.The 10th Mountain and Summit Huts are located near numerous legal snowmobile trails and those trails are used by hut skiers as well. If you ski to the huts much you will encounter snowmobiles. A friendly wave and a smile might actually make your day better, since you're out there to be positive and have fun, right? Also, remember that the huts border on plenty of legal Wilderness where snowmobiles are not allowed. Accept the multi-use trails you'll use for hut access, then tour in the legal Wilderness. If you don't like snowmobiles, problem solved.
For more about what's appropriate on the trails, please see our Hut User's Code of Ethics.