Skiing the 10th Mountain Division trails is for intermediate or more advanced cross-country skiers who have at least five to 10 days of back-country skiing experience. Fit individuals could consider traveling on snowshoes.
In addition to the 15 huts that make up the 10th Mountain Division Hut system, there are adjoining trails that connect seven other huts for which the 10th Mountain handles reservations. The huts vary in size and comfort. The smaller, older huts are more primitive than the newer ones.
All huts have stoves for heat and cooking, lighting (mostly using electricity from solar cells), and mattresses. Visitors provide their own food and sleeping bags, although some huts will rent sleeping bags and liners. Only a handful of the newest huts have indoor plumbing.
While avalanches won't be encountered on the trails, skiers need to be careful on the steeper slopes near the huts, which many skiers climb and descend for fun.
Snowmobiles are common near certain trail heads, like Vail Pass, and can be encountered on most trails. Volunteer groups are working to segregate the two modes of travel.
The huts hold an average of 16 guests. Reservations are mandatory, and spaces in the most popular huts may be sold out a year in advance for weekends, holidays, and full-moon nights. For $25, skiers can become a 10th Mountain member and make reservations for the 1996-97 season (Nov. 30-April 30) beginning Feb. 1. Nonmembers can book spaces starting March 1.
You can hike, mountain bike, or even drive to most huts from July 1 to Sept. 30. Costs range from $22 per person per night for most huts to $32 for the Shrine Mountain Inn.
* For reservations and information, call the 10th Mountain Hut Association: (970) 925-5775.