New Online Guidebook for 10th Mountain and Summit Huts, Colorado

Post by blogger | November 30, 2007      

For some reason I’ve always felt called to mountaineering guidebook publishing. Doing so is rarely lucrative, so I think my passion comes from a deep seated yearning to share the bounty, along with a never materializing dream of making a living writing the things.

A guidebook I always had high hopes for was one I did years ago for the 10th Mountain Division Hut System here in Colorado. The book was re-editioned several times by the publisher, but it had ugly photos and nearly nothing as maps, so as a guidebook it understandably languished. The book went out of print a while ago. My interest in guidebooks waned, and with family matters, and ski mountaineering taking most of my energy, I wasn’t that interested in writing about the 10th Huts.

But that deep yearning for guidebook publishing never quite went away, so a while back I bought the domain name and began considering doing a guidebook on the web. Over the years I’d continued ski touring and hiking to the 10th Huts, so I figured why not cover the 10th Huts again? I’ll just get out and do some field checks, whip up a set of maps, re-write my route descriptions and publish online. It was of course a bit more of an epic than that. In fact, it was a three month epic this late summer and fall. But thanks to the help of various folks I got “officially” published a few weeks ago. Read more below image…

Black Diamond Verdict backcountry ski

The big issue with publishing a backcountry guidebook on the web is how to make it portable so people can use it in the field. To that end, I worked my tail off figuring out how to do a map tileset that’s easily printed on a home printer, but can also be viewed on a website. What I ended up doing was making 29 maps, each of which will easily print on 8 1/2 x 11 standard printer paper. The solution for web display as well as printing was to use Flash, in the form of something they call “Flashpaper” that’s designed for document display and printing. For water resistance, we’re figuring people can do everything from using National Geographic waterproof printing paper, to having the map laminated, or just sticking it in a ziplock bag. Ultimately, our goal is “paperless mapping” done by loading the map into a PDA of some sort.

Along with the maps, we also designed the site so the route descriptions will print on any printer. (We could have made a “print this page” option, but doing so ads complexity a simple website doesn’t need).

Another thing I’m working on is publishing GPS tracks for the guidebook routes. It’s difficult to do this in a useful way, but we’re getting there. As an experiment we’ve already published some waypoint sets. For example, check out our info for the new Continental Divide Cabin.

I’m still figuring out how to fit everything together in a way that’s best for users of the site, and also finishing up the editing for design consistency and typos, but the site definitely works and includes everything you need to navigate more than 20 Colorado huts. Check it out and let us know what you think.


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14 Responses to “New Online Guidebook for 10th Mountain and Summit Huts, Colorado”

  1. cory November 30th, 2007 10:19 am

    Awesome. I love the level of thought you’ve put into making user friendly (i.e. printable). I would love to see it continue to expand out and encompass the other hut systems and private huts in the state. Then you could take it nationwide and eventually international. Sort of a one-stop shopping for those whose vacations are “out of the box”.

  2. El Jefe November 30th, 2007 10:29 am


    just spent the last hour and a half on it “touring”……. much better than the .org spot.

  3. Eric November 30th, 2007 10:29 am


    Great work! I’ve already been looking at it for a couple weeks, and like the maps a lot. Saves the time of making my own. We went up to visit Vance’s a few weekends ago and used your map, and might head up to something this weekend just to enjoy the scenery. Looks like we might finally get a significant dump though…we are tired of skiing manmade at Loveland.

    Thanks, EZE

  4. Lou November 30th, 2007 10:36 am

    Thanks for the words guys! Remember when you print the maps to use the little printer icon in on the upper right in the Flashpaper. Doing so usually works better than using your browser print option. Also, I also keep a full set of maps in PDF available, and will provide a text based index to those eventually (whew, a content based website is some work!).

  5. C. Lowe November 30th, 2007 10:01 am

    Thanks, Lou. I have a trip planned to one of the 10th huts next weekend and was looking through your old guide book to plan the route. But, the maps on are way more useful so thanks!

  6. Scott November 30th, 2007 12:44 pm


    Amazing work. The last 45 minutes just evaporated as I surfed through the site. Amazing work… thank you. You define prosociality (that’s my big word for the day). Have you thought about migrating your work into wikipedia or wikimapia as well?


  7. cjw December 1st, 2007 6:14 pm

    I greatly support the PDA download concept. Instead of taking guide books I just download beta photos from mountainproject or some such into the iPhone.

    Unfortunately the iPhone does not support Adobe Flash, which all the maps are in. Top level menus aren’t working well on the iPhone either (they drop down, but selecting something does nothing), is that Flash also?

    Let me know if you need a beta-tester.


  8. Lou December 1st, 2007 6:35 pm

    CJW, thanks so much for the feedback! I’m working on some text menus that’ll take the place of the drop downs by simply clicking the main link above the drop down.

    Flash is now a standard of the industry and I’ve chosen to do the maps that way as the primary method. If Apple doesn’t support flash, then that seems like something that has to change. That said, the maps are also all available in PDF, will your Iphone display a PDF?

    (I’m working on adding the text index of maps, which will include the PDFs.)

    BTW, I noticed you joined the forum, let’s take this discussion over there if you want to keep doing some beta testing with your Iphone.

    And dang, now I’m designing websites for Iphones (grin), what’s next!?

    P.S., you can access a text based sitemap by using the links at the bottom of the content section on most pages.

  9. scott December 3rd, 2007 9:46 am

    Great site but I’ve seen a potential editorial error. How did that tele skier get front page billing?

  10. Lou December 3rd, 2007 10:01 am

    Mistakes happen, my friend (grin).

  11. Danno December 5th, 2007 5:58 pm

    Nice! Did a little browsing, it looks excellent. Would love to have GPS info in there, and would love it if you could get info on the Braun Huts by late March (first trip to Green-Wilson for me). 😉

    Keep up the good work, and thanks!

  12. Lou December 5th, 2007 6:11 pm

    Danno, remember my “Colorado Backcountry Skiing” book is the definitive guide to the Braun Huts.

    I plan on having some info on the Braun huts at Hutski, but not for a few months. I’ll be placing the San Juan huts on there first.

  13. DT February 18th, 2011 4:58 pm

    Hey Everyone,

    This post if for a different book, but I don’t see any blogs for it on here.

    I’ve been trying to find Colorado Hut to Hut Volume 1, Northern and Central Regions by Brian Litz. I have Volume 2 for southern regions. Volume 1 doesn’t appear to be available anywhere, except the library. Any news on this book? Is there maybe another edition coming out, hence the reason it’s gone from stores?

    Thanks for any updates.

  14. Lou February 18th, 2011 5:20 pm

    DT, I hope Brian sees this and chimes in.

    Everyone, sorry has not been as vital as I predicted. It doesn’t get much traffic so I tend to not work on it… what I’ve come to believe is that since the trails to the 10th Huts are so well marked and traveled, most users don’t need guidebook style info, and perhaps not even a map. It’s been interesting to observe… Even the Braun Huts seem to not create much guidebook demand.

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