Braun Huts and Friends Hut — Loop


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 13, 2006      

Day trips and dawn patrols are a blast, but sometimes you need an extended dose of mountain air. I was feeling that exact craving when Penn Newhard emailed an invitation for 3 nights at the Braun Huts and Friends Hut south of Aspen, in the incredibly aesthetic Elk Mountains. The plan: five strong skiers make a four day circle through the Elks, starting and ending in Ashcroft, staying in three classic huts along the way. It worked.

Starting the backcountry skiing in Castle Creek.
Starting in the Castle Creek valley is always beautiful, but I dread the flat road slog up from Ashcroft. True to form it was hot and painful, but we made it. The worst part is when the horse drawn sleigh full of over dressed Aspen folks slides past you. "Mommy, why are those guys walking?"

Tagert Hut, Braun Huts, Colorado.
Tagert hut, Slate Mountain and Montezuma basin in background. New snow had recently fallen, and most slopes were covered with breakable crust. Over the next few days we’d get a few corn turns and even bust a few powder piles, but it was obvious this was a tour for distance and scenics.

Dinner at Tagert hut.
Penn tosses salad at Tagert Hut. That’s a bit of elk steak next to the greens. I prefer simple meals at huts, as I’d rather be relaxing or skiing than cooking and doing dishes. After all, even basic meals taste like a king’s feast after a day of ski touring. The meals Penn planned were a perfect mix of quality and simplicity.

Backcountry skiing in Pearl Basin, Colorado.
In Pearl Basin above Tagert, Castle Peak in background. The visible summit ski descent route is the East Face, which I did the first descent of back in my agro years.

The crew.
The crew at Mace Pass in Pearl Basin. From left,
Slinger, Penn, me, Mike, Scott.

Field modification of backcountry ski boots
Slinger’s boot liners were molded too short and his toes blew up the first day. We did major surgery at Friends Hut, sacrificing his liners for the good of the trip. My take: "The only thing more fun than spending other people’s money is hacking on other people’s gear."

The trip was not without other amusing gear moments. As one can surmise, we were on somewhat of a “media” trip. Mike Lanza is the northwest editor for Backpacker Magazine and Penn’s company Backbone Media does PR for Black Diamond and many other companies. I got a laugh one morning when Mike started packing Penn’s pack (they were both carrying nearly identical ones), but the biggest laugh was on myself. I was testing a Granite Gear Alpine Vapor (it worked great), but forgot that I’d stuffed my hard shell in a somewhat hidden compartment. After I couldn’t find my shell on the stormy morning of day 3 (I figured I’d left it in the car or at Tagert Hut), I gutted it out in my Cloudveil Serendipity soft shell. Forced to really test a soft shell — who would have thought! (It worked).

Backcountry skiing from Friends Hut to Goodwin/Green hut.
Starting the long slog from Friends Hut to Goodwin Green via Star Pass and Taylor Pass. We skied through a whiteout for a while, then high pressure moved in for the rest of this big (8 hour) day. Lanza said that when he made our hut reservations 10th Mountain had tried to dissuade him from this long, desperate and dangerous route, but we sought adventure instead of blue diamonds, so chose the road less traveled.

Taylor Pass.
Heading northerly near Taylor Pass. We’ll gain the ridge and follow it north to Goodwin Green hut.

Goodwin Green hut
Goodwin Green is one of the best Braun Huts. It’s been recently renovated. What was once a dark (but still special) hovel is now roomy, warm and flooded with light — super nice. And yes, Virginia, we did find the hot springs.

Black Diamond Verdict backcountry ski
Penn skiing out from Goodwin Green hut. We exited
down Express Creek and snagged a bunch of firm corn turns on the way down.

Black Diamond Verdict backcountry ski
Crew celebrating life at Goodwin Green.

Comments

One Response to “Braun Huts and Friends Hut — Loop”

  1. Sean April 13th, 2006 8:23 pm

    What was your boot/binding/ski setup for this heavy touring trip and how did you like it?

  Your Comments

  • trollanski: See, you know what they say about big hands....Big medial malleoli....I hav...
  • A: Thanks Lou. Just the advice I needed to hear. Im often drawn to the latest ...
  • Tom M.: Hi Lou, Another boot review? There is hardly any snow in Colorado and many...
  • Mike: Hi, I saw these in the shop and looks like the U shape of the production mo...
  • Jeff L: I saw they have some kind of mesh "ventilation" above the ankle. I am inter...
  • Lou Dawson 2: AI and all, the binding position has to do with interaction of sidecut and ...
  • Al: I hear ya Christian. Mine aren't 3-4 mm. They're 5.5 CM further forward!! ...
  • Mark W: As far as the Scarpa line goes, the Maestrale RS should be nearly as stiff ...
  • Matus: Skialper, I would say that the "lateral picture" without any explanation wo...
  • Skialper: @Matus - That's a problem. We were ready with a lot of technical drawings c...
  • Matus: Skialper, thank you for the great piece of reading. Q: why there are no...
  • Kristian1: Somekind of flex comparison/characteristics is much valued in a boot review...
  • SkiB: The 1324 gram shell seems heavy(ish) when compared to some recent competito...
  • Erik: These are great instructions for adjusting the Vipec. I just thought I'd p...
  • Louie 3: According to scarpa the fit on the new Maestrales is the same as the old. I...
  • Christian: Just lined up some similarly-lengthed skis with my 176 BMT 94s, and the 94s...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Al, the common method are plastic plugs sold specifically for the purpose. ...
  • Al: Thanks for the input. Asa there is more snow I'll try them out at the curre...
  • Ranger: Not one mention of flex character when skiing. Not a boot review....
  • Ed: Great review - I bought these boots in 2010 and love them. I've now worn th...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Al, it's of course interesting to compare skis, but nearly worthless in de...
  • Al: Interesting. Lined up other skis and some were more forward than the bmts. ...
  • scottyb: I did this mod to my clamps and it was easy peasy Did not use any hot wate...
  • NIck: Tracker 3 vs Barryvox S?? Thoughts?...
  • See: For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed the same thing (with different skis) but ...
  • Bill Hoblitzell: @ Travis, Scarpa has had the practice in the past of breaking their shells ...
  • Al: Hi- I picked up some bmt 94s, 176. Mounted them on the line. Waxing them up...
  • Don Gisselbeck: Clamp a needle-nosed vicegrip in a vice, hook it behind the nylock nut and ...
  • Dabe: shout out to dynafit ultralock and old sportiva spitfire on the no icing fr...
  • GOB: Thanks, Lou. I haven't heard a clear answer, but I imagine they are saying ...

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