Colorado Hut System: 10th Mtn Jackal Hut Backcountry Ski Trip

This guest post comes from Josh Whitney, a Boulder, CO-based pro mountain biker, cyclocrosser and lover of all things alpine. Josh occasionally contributes his trip reports, reviews and inspired mountain ramblings from the Rocky Mountain West to Tahoe Mountain Sports. His blog at blends bike racing and mountain adventures with musings on his day job in business, technology and sustainability.

The stoke meter on winter 2013 hit the red zone over the second half of February in Colorado, and has been full gas ever since. Though I can’t say I’m maxing out days on the hill or in the backcountry, there has been an impressive snow quality this season, although not all of the days have been deep, blower pow. Plenty of distractions have impacted my on-a-whim ability to grab a powder morning here or a day trip there, but there has been an ease at which winter has moved from the depths of January to the spring twilight of March. Balance, it seems, often means shifting priorities.

With a solid forecast from Gratzo (now available for most mountainous locales) in the lead up, a merry crew of seven  left the South Camp Hale trailhead bright and early on Friday morning. We were down unfortunately one soldier, who blew a knew on the North Rim at Vail, a casualty on the front lines of gnarnia. 2,500 feet later we arrived at 11,660 feet to find our new home for two nights tucked into the ridge with expansive views to the East, South and West – nothing but big mountains for company! Pleasantly surprised that the slog was under three hours, we safety-checked and caught some fun low angle turns in the golden hour.

sunset jackal hut colorado

Saturday’s agenda was a big tour East toward the treeline and glades below Pearl Peak, with north-facing views toward the Fowler-Hilliard hut and its begging-to-be-skied Resolution Bowl. It snowed off-and-on and we lapped a feel-good section in shin-deep fresh. Spencer and I later found the goods after these few short runs when we linked together an 800’+ plus descent that was meadow-skippy delicious.

After eyeing some big, open convex cliffs/bowls below the hut, we ventured out for a Sunday stroll before having to return back to reality. Overnight we received a gracious 4-6 inches and after some fairly easy route searching, we found the mother-load. While only 400-feet of vert, the ‘bowls’ offered some fantastic turns and a playful mini-pillow section at the bottom, and with a wide zone to work with and no one else around, we quickly burned in a skin track and lapped six grateful runs. Back to the hut for a quick lunch we went, and down the mountain we skied toward our cars. The next Monday morning came all too quickly!

jackal fowler hut ski terrain

Big thanks and condolences to Mr. and Mrs. Daniels for not being able to attend this joyous festivius, though they have lots to be excited for in the future. Now it’s on to the next one, the lofty and most alpine of the 10th Mountain Division Hut System: the Eisman high in the Gore, this weekend.

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