Backcountry Hut Trips
Looking for a taste of the Alps in Colorado? Look no further than the high country of the San Juan Mountains. Our experienced ski guides can help maximize your time at local backcountry huts, assist with route-finding, and locate the best skiing. If you’re already planning a stay up at the OPUS Hut or Thelma Hut, our knowledgeable guides can accompany you for your stay. Visit the OPUS Hut website to book the dates you’d like to stay, and reach out to us afterwards to book a guide.
Each hut accesses a variety of terrain for a range of ability levels, from fun beginner slopes to committing, steep lines. There’s nothing better after a day of powder skiing than returning to a fresh-cooked meal, hot sauna and fire at nearly 12,000 feet, with views of stunning peaks (and maybe even of your tracks from earlier in the day). The steep, high-alpine terrain around each hut can be hard to decipher for those new to the San Juans, and a guide can help you seek out the best snow in the area and objectives fit for your goals and experience. There’s also no need to pack much. All you’ll need to bring along in addition to your normal backcountry ski kit is lunch for each day, shoes or slippers for the hut, a towel, toothbrush and sleeping bag liner. This enables you to travel lighter for your day tours as the hut will have the rest of your needs covered.
A ski guide also provides the benefit of route-finding to the hut, as the route (specifically to OPUS Hut) may not always be clear, especially immediately after a storm, and crosses beneath several major avalanche paths. Reaching OPUS is possible from either Ophir (20 minutes south of Telluride) or Highway 550 past the summit of Red Mountain Pass. Please let us know from which side your group would prefer to approach. The route from both sides has nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain and requires traversing through avalanche terrain.
Visit the OPUS Hut website to book your stay at the hut. For more details or to book one of our experienced and professional ski guides, please give us a call at (970) 369-1153, email us at [email protected], or by clicking the button below!
The following is a general list of required gear for backcountry skiing with Mountain Trip. Skiers joining us will receive an updated, comprehensive equipment list that may supersede this list. In general, you want a selection of warm layers that can work together. Clothing that works well for a day of resort skiing will work fine, but dedicated touring clothing works better. Specifically, touring skis and boots differ from a resort setup.
Please plan ahead with equipment purchased for your trip so you can be certain that your gear fits you well. Recommended items reflect the opinions of our guides. We have used and have faith in all of our recommendations, but they may not necessarily fit or work for you.
Please follow this list closely and do not hesitate to call us for clarifications or to solicit an opinion about anything you are considering. There is a good selection of gear available in Telluride and Ouray, and we have a good selection of loaner and rental gear, so just let us know what you might need.
All avalanche rescue equipment (transceiver, probe, and shovel) is included with the cost of the trip. Mountain Trip has a fleet of Black Diamond touring skis, skins and poles, La Sportiva touring boots, and Black Diamond airbag skiing packs available for rent.
Skis, boots, skins and poles are rented for $100/day and the airbag pack is rented for $30/day.
|Ski Socks||You will want ski socks that fit your foot well and are warm. For multi-day trips or ski expeditions, we recommend multiple pairs of socks so you can dry a pair overnight.|
|Base Layer Top||(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers. Long sleeve or short sleeve base layers work well.|
|Light Fleece Hoody||Light/mid weight fleece (or wool) top with a hood. You will wear this over your light weight base layer.|
|Soft Shell Wind Jacket||Many high alpine peaks are cold and dry. We are huge fans of very lightweight softshell wind jackets for high, dry, cold peaks. Weighing just a few ounces, these can be carried in your pocket or in the lid of your pack for rapid deployment. This layer is used in addition to your more waterproof hard shell jacket.|
|Ski Shell||We recommend a gore-tex ski shell that is water resistant but light weight at the same time.|
|Puffy Jacket Skiing||A warm puffy jacket to throw on at the top of the skin track, during breaks, in the early am or on cold days.|
|Base Layer Bottoms||(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers.|
|Ski Pant||A goretex or softshell ski pant with ventilation is recommended.|
Head and Hands
|Heavyweight Gloves||Warm, insulated gloves are the day-to-day workhorses on cold peaks or for cold days of ice climbing. We prefer gloves with removable liners for ease of drying.|
|Medium Weight Gloves||A Mid-weight glove will generally be a softshell type glove with some light synthetic insulation.|
|Light Weight Gloves||When the sun comes out on a glacier, the temperature can soar. Light weight, soft shell gloves are great for keeping the sun off your hands, while still giving you a bit of protection from the wind and cold.|
|Buff Neck Gaiter||Buff is a brand of light weight neck gaiters that have grown to become a staple of every guide's kit. These are amazingly versatile, and can be worn as a hat, a neck gaiter or pulled over your face for protection from the wind or sun. They come in many thicknesses nowadays, but we prefer the original weight for its versatility.|
|Sun Hat||Baseball type or wide brimmed sun hats are required for protection against the intense sunshine found on many peaks. You can combine a baseball hat with a BUFF for good sun protection or go for a wide brimmed version to protect your face, ears and neck.|
|Hand Warmers||Bring 4 -6+ sets of these disposable insurance policies, depending on where you are climbing. Make certain that your hand warmers are relatively new, as they do go bad over time.|
|Ski Goggles||These are necessary for use while traveling during storms or during really cold and windy weather. These must have double lenses and provide full UV protection. Fogging is a real challenge, so goggles that actively vent are worth the investment. Julbo's Aerospace or Airflux have a slick venting system or Smith makes battery-powered "Turbo Fan" models. Select a general purpose lens that will provide some protection in bright light, but not be so dark as to make them useless on a cloudy or flat-light day.|
|Sunglasses||Sunglasses are essential in the mountains. Choose a pair that are comfortable and provide 100% UVA and UVB protection.|
|Backcountry Ski Poles||Adjustable ski poles are fantastic as they allow you to change length for skinning vs. skiing. Any poles with powder baskets will work.|
|Touring Boots||If you have your own boots some helpful features include; walk mode and pin binding compatibility. Whatever boot you decide to use, make sure it is compatible with your touring bindings. Mountain Trip has a fleet of La Sportiva touring boots if you need to rent.|
|Climbing Skins||Climbing skins pre-cut for your touring skis. We include skins for our rental skis.|
|Backcountry Skis||A lightweight ski setup with touring specific bindings is a great way to maximize the fun in the backcountry. Mountain Trip has a fleet of Black Diamond touring skis with pin bindings for you to rent for Colorado backcountry ski trips.|
|Ski Helmet||We recommend skiing with a ski helmet. Any downhill ski helmet will work.|
Avalanche Safety Equipment
|Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon||When traveling in avalanche terrain, whether it is backcountry skiing in the Alaska Range, or Colorado, we will wear avalanche transceivers (beacons). We will have an opportunity to practice at the start of the trip. Beacons are included for Colorado backcountry ski trips and available for rent on other climbs and expeditions.|
|Avalanche Probe||An avalanche probe specifically for backcountry skiing.|
|Avalanche Shovel||You want a shovel that has a removable handle so that you can stow it in your backpack while touring. Metal bladed shovels only.|
|Backcountry Ski Backpack||A backpack specific for backcountry skiing is recommended, these packs will have a separate pocket specifically for avalanche rescue gear. We also recommend skiing with an avalanche airbag, Mountain Trip has a fleet of Black Diamond airbag backpacks for rent on Colorado backcountry ski trips.|
|Lip Balm||Bring a tube of quality lip balm with sun protection (SPF).|
|Water Bottles||The ability to carry 2 liters of water will help you stay hydrated throughout the day.|
|Sunscreen||The sun can be intense in Colorado, so please apply high SPF sunscreen prior to your trip and bring a small tube along to reapply during the day.|
|Snacks and Lunch Food||Pack enough food for snacking while on the skin track, in-between rock pitches or on the trail in the summer. We recommend a combination of energy bars, dried fruit and nuts and/or a sandwich. Bring something that you like to eat!|
|Pee Funnel||This is a women's specific tool for expeditions and winter trips that gives women the ability to pee standing up like men. This also creates a little more privacy and protection from the elements when on a rope team. We prefer this hard-sided version.|
General Agreement Concerning Services to be Provided And Responsibilities of Team Members
When registering for skiing with Mountain Trip we want to help make sure you understand the services we are providing and the services you are responsible for.
Transportation is Incidental
The main purpose of becoming a team member is to join us skiing in the mountains. As such any transportation we provide or that you may contract for on your own is incidental to the trip. We suggest that you make sure you have time built into your itinerary for delays.
Transportation to and from Your Destination
We will designate a specific Team Meeting Day for your ski. Transportation to the meeting point on your Team Meeting Day is to be provided by you, unless otherwise arranged with Mountain Trip. You must arrive in time to be ready to participate in a team meeting at the appointed time on the Team Meeting Day for your ski. This probably means you will need to arrive the day before, as it is often prudent to get an early start in the morning. Skiing is very dynamic and we will provide you with a recommendation as to when you should book your flights to and from your destination or how you might best arrange your travel to SW Colorado. If flying, we suggest you book a ticket that allows you to change your flight with little effort or cost.
Lodging off the Mountain
Mountain Trip will provide lodging per the Inclusions and Exclusions section above. Any additional lodging is your responsibility.
Responsibilities of Team Members
You are ultimately responsible for your own well-being, including making all necessary preparations to ensure good health and physical conditioning. You are responsible for understanding the conditions that may exist while skiing and choosing a ski that is appropriate for your abilities and interests. You are responsible for having knowledge of all pre-departure information and for assembling the appropriate clothing and equipment for your ski experience.
While in the field, team members are responsible to maintain basic levels of hygiene and to conduct themselves respectfully with other team members and members of the local population. If a guide feels that a team member is putting other members’ health or safety at risk, the guide has the discretion to remove a team member from a ski day.
Use our office staff and your lead guide as pre-trip resources to ensure that all your questions are answered. Travel insurance may help recoup expenses if you need to leave the field due to an illness.