In the November issue we introduced you to the world of backcountry hut trips. More than just skiing beyond the ropes of a resort, hut tripping requires ski/snowboard ability plus backcountry smarts (how to read a map, follow a compass, etc.). While some of these rustic escapes require just a short snowshoe, others—like the 7.9-mile slog I decided to challenge myself with—are a serious undertaking and should only be attempted by those with enough knowledge to stay safe. (Being in the backcountry means Mother Nature is the boss.) Feel up to the physical challenge but lack confidence in your backcountry knowhow? Don't let that stop you from crossing off this Colorado bucket list item. Simply sign up for Paragon Guides' Introduction to Hut Use Trip.
The Edwards-based company, now in its 36th year, offers guided adventures in the summer (llama trekking, backcountry fishing, mountaineering) and winter (hut-to-hut skiing, snowshoeing) for people of all abilities. But, so we're all on the same page: "A beginner for backcountry hut trips is someone who has at least an intermediate level of skiing. They know how to slow themselves down and control their speed," says Buck Elliott, Paragon's founder.
The two-day, one-night excursion includes a pre-trip orientation to discuss gear and what to pack. Two guides lead the 5.7-mile hike in. Upon arrival, they'll walk everyone through how things work at the hut, from chopping wood to melting water. Pay attention: All of this is applicable for future trips, whether you go with friends or sign up for one of Paragon's multi-day options. And trust me, you'll want to go again. "When people get on the trail, there’s a certain camaraderie that happens just from being out there," Elliott says. "You just need to know that you can put one foot in front of the other."
So what are you waiting for?
Upcoming trip details: December 14–15, $475/person
Gear Up: Paragon doubles as a Dynafit—makers of some of the world's best ski mountaineering equipment—test and retail center. (Full disclosure: A friend of mine works for the company, and I used their gear on my hut trip.)
—Image courtesy of Paragon Guides
Follow associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger.