Backcountry Ski Huts
Skiing in the Telluride mountains extends beyond the Telluride Ski Resort. In fact, many Telluride locals forgo the expense of the season pass offered by TelSki and prefer to only backcountry ski. Also referred to as touring, backcountry skiing can definitely include the more extreme terrain for experts only, but also encompasses some of the fresh and exciting experiences like hut trips that appeal to varying levels of skiers, including intermediate riders and beyond. Hut trips can be a fun way to experience skiing in the Telluride area. For most of these, you don’t have to necessarily ski, you can also snowboard or even snowshoe.
In the San Juans, the hut trip adventure is one that especially intermediate skiers can enjoy. A hut system has been designed, with five huts existing between Telluride, Ridgway, and Ouray. The system in the San Juans consists of a series of trails that lie in the Mount Sneffels Range. Skiers can make trips to individual huts, or if they are of an advanced ability, can ski from hut to hut in true European fashion. And, above each hut does exist more challenging terrain for intermediate, advanced, and extreme skiers. The trails follow the US Forest Service roads in the Sneffels Wilderness area. Here you’ll have the pleasure of traveling under the majesty of 14,000 feet peaks.
While avoiding the costs of the lift tickets is accomplished, reservations still must be made for the huts, though prices are practical according to the San Juan Huts website. Their mission is to “provide low impact, human-powered, lightweight backcountry travel opportunities for the independent health-conscious adventurer” and in an affordable manner advertised at just $30 per night per skier. Each hut is wooden and sleeps eight people in padded bunks. Inside you’ll find a propane stove, propane lamp, a wood stove with firewood, as well as kitchen utensils for cooking. What you won’t find is water. You’ll have to melt snow on a hut trip adventure.
However, there is also the Opus Hut. It is one the very favorites of the Telluride area, it being solar-powered, self-sufficient, and completely off-the-grid. With gorgeous alpine scenery, this hut offers the adventure element, but with the bonuses of eco-friendly amenities. You’ll find solar electric, warm water heated through solar electricity along with plumbing, two wood-burning stoves, as well as composting toilets that you never have to go outside for. They’re indoors. It’s a comforting way to check out of the tourist experience and into nature. Dorm spaces for the Opus Hut are just $35 a person with 16 spaces available. Private rooms (there are two) can be reserved for $105-$175 a night.
Within the San Juan Huts system, you’ll find 60 miles of trail to cover, and the organization does boast that you will often never see another person’s tracks. The average elevation is around 9,000 feet. Winter ski gear is required, along with safety equipment. If you’ve got the inkling, and the gear and the time, you can reserve your hut at sanjuanhuts.com or opushut.com.