Join us April 14-18, 2020 for our annual classic, the "Aspen Haute Route"/ Star Peak circumnavigation hut adventure. This is without a doubt one of the most impressive hut-to-hut traverses in all of Colorado. This year we are going counter-clock-wise. Departing from the ghost town of Ashcroft, our first night is at the Green Wilson Hut, then over Pearl Pass to the famed Friends Hut for two nights, culminating with an epic link up over Star Pass to the favorite Opa's Taylor Hut for the final night. We will ski over three 12,000' high mountain passes off the shoulders of Star, Taylor, and Pearl Peaks.
April is a fantastic time for ski touring the high alpine in Colorado with typically stable snow conditions and the possibility of ski mountaineering conditions and/or pure powder. On this tour you will develop skills that will help for a classic European Haute traverse, whether it is general navigation and winter mountain travel, avalanche assessment, or use of crampons and ice axe for steeper climbing and skiing. Our guides will educate you and show you a great time along the way!
Day 1 - Meet at our shop at Aspen Highlands for gear check and finalize the food packing/ distribution. Relocate to Ashcroft and skin past the Pine Creek Cookhouse toward Pearl Pass and Castle Peak to the Green Wilson Hut (11,280'). Distance: 6 miles; Elevation gain: 1,780’. There is potential for an evening ski tour up to Mace Peak or the "Backyard Runs" depending on timing and motivation. Snacks and dinner prepared by our guides.
Day 2 - After an early morning breakfast, we depart Green Wilson and skin to the top of Pearl Pass (12,705'). The 360-degree views of the Central Elks are mind-blowing here looking at the imposing steep faces of Castle, Cathedral, Pearl, Star and Mace Peaks (to name a few), with Crested Butte lying off to the south. Here we pull our skins and have a glorious ski down to the historic Friends Hut (11,370'). There is potential for an evening ski tour here depending on timing and motivation. Snacks and dinner prepared by our guides.
Day 3 - With quick access from the Friends Hut, we have the option to venture onto the coveted south face of Star Peak and the various arms of the Star massif. The "June Couloir" is a classic line up and down the middle of the south face, which is on many ski-mountaineers bucket list. There is potential for another evening ski tour depending on timing and motivation. Snacks and dinner prepared by our guides, with – of course – another night of gloating about our objectives of the day.
Day 4 - Depart the Friends hut and skin to the top of Star Pass (12,330') situated between Star and Crystal Peaks. From here we pull our skins and have a seemingly endless descent deep into the Taylor Creek basin. After a short climb out of the valley we arrive at the impressively beautiful and newest hut in the system - The Opa's Taylor Hut (11,850'). With 280 degrees of high peak views from inside the hut, ski lines appear in every direction. Easily accessed objectives from the summit or shoulders of Taylor Peak are options. Snacks and dinner prepared by our guides.
Day 5 - After a leisurely breakfast we pack up and have a relatively easy skin to the top of Little Italian Pass (12,184'). From here we pull skins and have a magnificent, endlessly long decent under Taylor Peak's M&M Chutes all the way to the Pine Creek Cookhouse (drinks anyone?), out to the trailhead and our vehicles.
To join us on this trip you should have strong fitness and downhill skiing abilities, as well as relative experience/comfort on your AT gear or splitboard. Price starts at $1600 per person, based on a 4:1 ratio. Price includes AMGA/AIARE trained/certified guides, 3% USFS surcharge, private huts for our group, all needed Alpine Touring gear (including avalanche safety equipment – beacon, shovel, probe), and new The North Face backpacks/lightweight sleeping bags; all food, planning and shopping are also included in this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Please contact us via phone at 970-925-7625 or email/form to sign up or to request more information.