Backcountry Ski Hut

As a last push to find some measure of winter (defined by me as including skiable snow, not just being cold out), Jordan and I pushed out to the new Opus Hut tucked in the southern end of the San Juan Mountains. We had invited a number of other folks, but by the virtue that we scheduled our trip mid week, most of the working world wasn’t able to comply. So Jordan and I set out on this trip on our own. This was her first ski hut trip (though, she did get herself up to Gray Knob a few years ago) and she said it pushed her a bit more than she would have liked.

To my discredit, I didn’t quite make it clear that getting to the hut was going to be an up-hill process. Fortunately most of the 4-mile approach was on a gentle grade road. It was the last mile that really went vertical and moments of doubt and despair would attempt to discourage us. But we overcame those obstacles and Jordan was a real trooper breaking trail with her snowshoes in half a dozen inches to a solid foot of fresh powder in places and we made it to the hut well before dark.

Since we were the only ones up there, Jordan wasn’t very excited with the idea of me going out there to get some turns on my own. So, without much protest, we used our days in this beautiful setting to spend time together, cook, eat, play cards, read, sit in the sun and enjoy the view. But if I had gone skiing, the accessibility was as simple as it gets. For the instant gratification, I could have skied right out the door down the steeps to the road and done a number of laps coming back up the trail Jordan and I broke on our way in. Or, I could skin from the hut right up to the upper reaches of the slopes above us and lapped down to the hut again. Or, I could have skinned up and skied past the hut all the way past the road down to the bottom of the gulley for an easy 1,500-foot vertical run. Repeat as desired.

The Opus Hut is open year-round and we hope to make it back out there for some hiking this summer. The comfortable sleeping options include bringing a sleeping bag or just a pair of sheets as blankets are provided. In the winter, once the hut is warmed up, it stays plenty warm so there is no need to be concerned about having a super warm bag (like you would want in a yurt). Nor need you worry about stoking the fire a few times a night to keep things from getting too chilly.

I didn’t take very many photos, but here are a few of them. Click on any of them for a bigger version or to access the rest of the gallery.






Opus Hut Website

About the author

Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker who founded in 2000. He has contributed to Elevation Outdoors Magazine, The Gear Junkie, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Outside, Backpacker, Wired, Australian Geographic, and others. He has been to all seven continents and lived on five of them, including a four-month stint at the South Pole. Cameron has more than 10 years of mountain search and rescue experience, is an Eagle Scout, has been an Australian bush firefighter, competes in sailing regattas, plans national and international youth programs, guides Oregon rafting trips and Australian bush backpacking trips.


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