Added by Jason Hatfield
Ski and skin across the Continental Divide to connect two amazing backcountry huts.
Betty Bear and Skinner Huts reside deep in the Colorado backcountry surrounded by thick forests and snowy peaks. Both of these huts offer an opportunity for off-grid leisure and crowd-free skiing. The huts come stocked with padded mattresses, wood stoves & fuel, propane burners, all cookware and utensils, some games/puzzles/books, and sitting/eating areas. Connecting these awesome mountain cabins is a winter trek over the Continental Divide with incredible mountain views to the horizon.
To reach the Betty Bear Hut, start at the TH on FR 505 and skin up the road for 4.5 miles before turning left into the forest; the road section is gradual climb of 900 ft. with a few sections of downhill. Follow the steep mountainside trail up 1200 ft. in only 1.3 miles to reach the hut. With fresh snow there won't be an apparent trail but there are plenty of blue trail blazes to follow. Trail Profile
To connect to Skinner Hut from Betty Bear you'll be following buried trails and roads through open meadows and forests to the top of Hagerman Pass on the Continental Divide. Good route finding abilities and a GPS/map skills can be crucial during high-wind whiteout events on the pass. The trail down to the hut can be rocky and windblown in the beginning so watch your descent. The last half mile is on a forested ridge. Total distance is 4.2 miles with 970 ft. of climbing. Trail Profile
To return to the TH from Skinner follow the same path you took up, with the option to stop at Betty Bear for a lunch break. The ski down the steep forested section from Betty Bear can be challenging with a pack and a helmet is advised. When you reach the bottom you'll likely need to skin for a little over 1.5 miles until the road starts to slope down enough to ski with some pole assistance. Watch the false summit near the cement water tunnel station that appears to start the downhill, it's another half mile of flats and climbing. Total distance is 10.2 miles with 580 ft. of gain. Trail Profile
Betty Bear Hut sleeps 16 and offers a large upstairs with plenty of seating for eating or lounging. There's not much in the way of backcountry skiing immediately surrounding the hut but Hagerman Pass offers some stunning slopes with moderate or steep options. Skinner Hut also sleeps 16 with a large open common room for eating and lounging. There are ski options fairly close to the hut with a glade style run off Hagerman Pass Road to the south and a big alpine bowl to the north (there is considerable avalanche in many areas so choose terrain wisely).Helpful Hut Etiquette:
- If you're the first to the hut start a fire, get snow melting, and boil some water for hot drinks, the rest of your crew will thank you!
- If you're the last to leave check the hut checkout list and make sure everything is prepped for the next group.
- Do not urinate or leave waste around the hut, the snow is your winter water source and you risk everyone's health when you don't take the "long" cold walk to an outhouse.
- Snow transportation: Backcountry Skis w/ skins, Nordic Skis, Snowshoes, Splitboard
- Avalanche safety gear (optional if not skiing around the hut): Beacon, Probe, Shovel, Avy Air Bag (optional)
- Winter travel/topo maps
- Food & Water: Huts have gas stoves and snow can be melted for water
- Coffee/Hot chocolate
- Ski wear & warm layers
- Down booties or warm footwear
- Sleeping bag: Huts are heated with a wood stove and depending where you sleep a lightweight bag might be enough
- Adult beverages for après
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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