I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Hut System. Sure, the 10th Huts are for the most part not located in rowdy terrain, and they can get expensive. But it is is just plain sweet having 10th’s amazing system of trails and cabins laying claim to great swaths of Colorado backcountry that would otherwise just be sitting there ending up as snowmobile havens (at best).
My relationship with the 10th Huts goes back. Way back. Myself and a group of friends were the system’s first paying guests in 1982, and I went on to decades of helping them with their website, doing tons of related photography along with plenty of volunteer work, and even had a guidebook out for a time. So it was extra fun this past Friday to join long-time 10th Mountain staff Scott Messina while he marked a new trail. Scott has made an amazing contribution to the 10th Huts. He’s been marking trails and doing maintenance for years, as well as being former owner of Aspen Alpine Guides and spending thousands of days introducing skiers to the hut system. If you see him, just say thanks.
The “Sangree High Route” goes from Ski Cooper ski area (near Leadville, Colorado) over a high ridge and lands at the Sangree M. Froelicher hut. Previously, the only marked trail to the Sangree was a rather picayune three mile march. Still, Sangree hut is in a sublime location; perched up on a mountainside overlooking the 14,000 foot peaks of the Mosquito Range. So having a more adult way of getting there is an excellent offering from 10th Mountain. Hats off to Scott and all other 10th staff involved in this. A picture can be worth a lot of words, so instead of wearing out my keyboard, check out this orthophoto mashup I piled together over the weekend (warning, large file download, broadband as well as Flash viewer required). While the trail 10th Mountain is marking will be the most efficient route, the area may provide for creativity such as skiing a downhill run, then climbing back up to the marked route. That’s the type of ski touring I enjoy, so I’m looking forward to exploring the new route this winter. The Sangree Hut and new route are detailed here, and here.