fowler-hilliard hut

leaving the dad car at the trailhead

beautiful frost in the morning, heading up

starting from camp hale, near minturn CO, bnna and I ski-toured up five or so miles to the fowler hillard hut, a backcountry hut part of the tenth mountain division hut system.  this system is a network of huts scattered high in the colorado rockies that are accessible by trail in the summer and ski tracks in the winter.  loaded down with two and a half day's food, clothes, and sleeping gear we made slow but steady time up the drainage, reaching treeline after three hours of toiling.  from treeline we aimed for the rounded peak of resolution mountain and continued up.  from the summit, we could see down to the northeast saddle of the mountain, where the hut stood proudly.  we pulled the climbing skins from our skis and made shaky turns (tired legs and heavy packs) down to the hut's front porch.  


skiing on shaky legs with a heavy pack

bnna chillin on the porch hydrating, our tracks down the southwest side of resolution visible in the background

dropping packs in the entry way we explored the beautiful building.  built in 2010 and outfitted with solar power, wood furnace heat, and giant picture windows facing the south, the fowler-hillard hut is an incredible building.  since we started early and moved at a good pace, we were first to arrive for the day.  we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of lounging around the empty cabin.  

I headed out for some more skiing while bnna napped.  the north glades behind the house were skiing bottomless with no tracks anywhere to be seen, and the southwest bowl of resolution mountain in front of the house was also yielding great turns.  as I skinned back up from my second lap down the bowl, the rest of the hut's occupants began arriving.  some cool snowshoers from montana, and some friendly skiers from the northeast arrived and began preparing food, breaking out drinks, and generally making the scene.  bnna and I joined in and ate a great dinner before passing out at the ripe time of 8pm.  

heading up from the hut

seeking shelter from the wind on ptarmigan hill

the next day bnna and I headed out for a linkup.  starting from the hut, we headed again up to the summit of resolution mountain.  from the summit, we dropped into the east face, slashing turns in the beautiful windblown pow.  the first two thirds of the run were incredible, but the beautiful pow turned to heinous breakable crust in the last 500 feet.  we kickturned and groveled thru the grossness to the valley bottom.  from there, we began working our way east 3 miles up a drainage to ptarmigan pass.  as we climbed again above treeline the winds started howling, heralding the coming storm.  pushing against the wind, we got to the second peak of the day, ptarmigan hill, where a primitive hut gave us a great shelter to pull our skins and prep for the ski back to the hut.  

after lunch at the hut, we headed out again to ski the super-fun north glades with one of the cool northeasterners.  with the day waining, we retired to the hut to watch the storm roll in.  it was incredible.  the wind gusts were something like i have never seen before.

finishing the day with the storm rolling in

the next morning we woke to six new inches of powder.  bnna and I lapped the resolution bowl till our legs got heavy, before packing up and hitting the trail.  what had been a challenging day of toiling up hill with heavy packs became a couple exciting hours on the way down.  the excitement was enhanced by me tomahawking on breakable crust with a full pack, and getting inexplicably separated from bnna while within sight of the car.