Holiday at a Hut

Post by blogger | December 31, 2013      

Sarah Uhl

Friendsgiving 2013.

Friendsgiving 2013.

Traditions are good. Some traditions are inevitably bound to family, like going over to grandma’s on Christmas eve and eating reindeer sugar cookies. Other traditions are more nationally uniting, like sneaking a plastic tarantula in your sister’s lunch box on April Fool’s Day. Some traditions are things you start with your own community; your chosen family. That’s what Friendsgiving is about.

Our version of Friendsgiving began six years ago amongst our group of “Colorado orphans.” We are not real orphans, just a bunch of kids who moved away from home long ago and consistently opted to go rock climbing, wear crazy outfits, sleep in the dirt and make food with friends instead of family for the four day holiday. After four years of trips to Moab to climb towers and rip singletrack we decided to mix it up. 2012 was our first Friendsgiving backcountry hut trip. Since it didn’t snow and we drove the whole way there, we decided to try it again this year… and this time we got what we were looking for in the winter department.

The skin into Vance’s Cabin is about 3.5 miles with a measly 500 feet elevation gain. With such reasonable approach conditions, our crew of 19 hauled in eight sleds worth of luxuries such as wine, beer, moonshine, BB guns, blow guns, one kite, Cards Against Humanity, a turkey, 12 pounds of stuffing, many pies, a few romance novels and enough sequins to blind anyone who came near us.

Enthusiastic start of the trip.

Don't forget the beer.


Ninja tele moves looking good.

We sported a mixture of AT, tele, and nordic skiers. We had one split-boarder and several envious snowboarders on snowshoes. Four people on skis had never skied before. I had never shot a blow gun before. Some folks were on their first hut trip. Conditions were ripe for a true Friendsgiving.

Vance's Cabin, Colorado

Vance's Cabin, Colorado

A bit of climbing to loosen the limbs

First ascent (?) of Vance's Arete.

Snow was thin but thick enough to tempt us to seek out some turns on our second day. Temperatures were warm enough to dance on the deck in mini-skirts and crazy hats. We roasted the turkey the night before we left (we’d end up with so much food we hauled out half what we brought).

Our pre-determined theme for dinner was sequins, glitter, stripes, polka dots and fuzz. Theme compliance was 110%, leading us into the craziest dance party the 14-foot dinner table had probably ever seen. By 10:15pm lights were out. Consensus: it was the biggest rave of our lives.

The crew.

The crew.

Stylin hut attire.

Men in tights.

Apres ski target practice.

Après-ski target practice.

Friendsgiving feast.

Friendsgiving feast.


One of six delicious pies.

Dessert snow ice cream.

Not all fun and games, chores include melting snow for drinking water.

After dinner dance party

After dinner dance rave. How many folks fit on a dinner table?

On our second day ten of us summitted Chicago Ridge, a worthy five mile ski tour that lead us to a height of 12,700 feet. The kite was flown, almost dragging its owner off the backside of the ridge. The ski down was over a thin snowpack that challenged our Ptex but still rewarded. Bacon and cheese sammies to the tune of an IPA was a highlight. Later that evening saw a mixture of Indian leg wrestling, card games, and another feast — this time burritos. (Author’s tip: for the sake of inter-hut air quality, don’t serve your friends burritos on a hut trip.)

Enjoying the views.

Chicago Ridge summit.


Thin snow but still sweet.

Departure down the skin track was the most challenging aspect of our trip, particularly for sled pullers. Veteran sled haulers skied with wooden support beams to keep the sled in place behind you while going downhill. Virgin sled pullers lacked support beams and overflowing plastic bags of trash didn’t help the situation. Regardless, experience did not prove fruitful in the sled department with both veteran and virgins crashing and burning multiple times. The skin track was narrow with many curves and trees positioned in opposition to the sled’s natural flow path. One icy creek crossing and many fallen trees to climb over left our sled pullers tired.

Despite all, our Friendsgiving trip was a perfect dose of a tradition we were all looking for. It’s been fun to watch the evolution of our gatherings. New and old faces unite each year. Everyone leaves grateful for each other and a few days in the woods with nothing but a BB gun, some good food and drink, and knowing you can make your own traditions. Don’t forget your sequins!

View of Colorado Rockies.

Sunny touring back to town.

Photographs by Carl Zoch. Check out his website for beautiful landscapes prints, including Holgas that are for sale.

( Girl, Sarah Uhl, may not have been Rocky Mountain born but she has found her heart here. When she is not climbing mountains or foraging medicinal plants she welds words and mixes paint to tell stories of the beautywild.)



11 Responses to “Holiday at a Hut”

  1. Brian December 31st, 2013 10:16 am

    Oh My!!
    is that a tele binding I see! so it ain’t so..

  2. Jack Crognale December 31st, 2013 2:39 pm

    That sounded like a great trip Sarah. The Hut looked pretty stylish also. Cheers, Jack

  3. zippy the pinhead January 1st, 2014 6:08 am

    Yes, Brian, it is. In fact the caption says so.

    To be specific the binding in question is a Black Diamond 01. (BD is a sponsor of this site, if I remember correctly.)

    What’s your point?

    Incidentally, the O1 changed my life on the uphill; it was the first tele binding with a touring mode (i.e. free-pivot) I’d ever used. For years I’d watched AT skiers making pretty kick turns in the skin track. The 01 allowed me to learn it too.

    Since then, I’ve taught the uphill kick turn to a number of AT skiers, some even on Dynafits.

    Happy new year and happy trails….


  4. Lou Dawson January 1st, 2014 8:02 am

    Despite the free-pivot, we’ll see how long Zippy can hold out (grin). I’ve seen the future. Amazing stuff coming down the road based on the tech binding platform. Not to mention split snowboard systems. Lou

  5. Lou Dawson January 1st, 2014 8:04 am

    Regarding Sarah’s trip. Fully weaponized in a number of ways (grin). I a bit scared about next year, as they’ll need to top this one. Major pyrotechnics? Lou

  6. sarah uhl January 2nd, 2014 10:29 am

    Just wait until I get you all the trip report from NYE in a hut…

  7. Lisa January 2nd, 2014 10:33 am

    Sarah, I’m looking foward to it! Might have to start crashing your hut parties. 🙂

  8. Patrick January 4th, 2014 12:08 am

    Packing a piece into a hut?
    Don’t bother bringing a gun up to BC eh. Canadian border patrol won’t be co-operative and understanding. And, BC citizens might just consider you weird; you know, the whole Homeland Insecurity thingee. Leave your guns at school. Pack a hockey stick, no problem. (Grin,,,, well sort of)

  9. Lou Dawson January 4th, 2014 12:17 am

    Just curious, but if one does desire to bring a gun from U.S. to Canada, for hunting, what is the procedure? Ship it to gun dealer? Buy one in Canada? Hunt with a hockey stick?

  10. Patrick January 7th, 2014 2:18 am

    I haven’t owned a gun for ~50 years, so I’m the wrong guy to ask. Someone at the the Guide-Outfitter Assn of BC will know –>
    Hockey stick is handy if you feel the primal urge to take someone out. A gun-substitute if you will. With hockey sticks, no need for a special permit. Some guys have an arsenal.
    However, Europeans opt for using hockey sticks with great skill on the rink.

  11. Jailhouse Hopkins January 7th, 2014 1:14 am

    Fill out a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration. Good for sixty days. $25. Available thru RCMP website.
    Leave the hockey stick at home unless you’re looking to cause an international incident!

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