I have a confession to make.
Even though I’ve spent twenty years skiing the slopes of Aspen/Snowmass, and despite spending the past four years exploring a solid amount of the backcountry in the surrounding Elk Mountains, I had never been on a Hut Trip in the upper Roaring Fork Valley. Sure, I had been invited on a few, but could never make it due to my Alma Mater’s odd schedule. That all changed last weekend when I was invited by an invitee to join a group for one night at Barnard Hut.
As an invitee of an invitee, I had a feeling it would be faux-pas to invite Trine to come along, but two in the original party dropped out the week before the trip, so Trine was welcomed on-board and made for a great touring/safety partner.
Because of the tricky, scary snowpack and the relative avalanche safety novices we were with, we decided to approach the hut from the summit of Aspen Mountain. This meant that we were to travel 7.2 miles each way, with a whopping vertical gain of 200 feet (Yes, you read that correctly. Just over seven miles of really flat ski touring). Part of me felt bad when Trine and I skitched behind a snowmobile on the way back, but just typing out that statistic makes me feel fine about it.
Advice for those looking for it: Stay more than one night; go here if you are looking for mellow ski terrain and good views; and make sure you come back to Aspen when there is some stereotypical wild techno-champagne party at the base of Aspen Mountain (complete with rich tacky white people who can’t dance). This will certainly guarantee to make it feel as if you took a wrong turn in Basalt and ended up in Europe somehow…