By David Maddox

In the early 1900’s backcountry was an out and back day-long endeavor mostly into Bavaria, the Black Forest, and the Alps. As folks wanted to go further they needed a place to overnight. The houses of the mountain people seemed like a good option and they did take in skiers from time to time. Formerly isolated thru the winter, the mountain folks now saw folks from the outer world wandering in on these crazy “new” skis. They were used to summer tourists but this looked like a new opportunity. Skiers got a couple of hot meals and a warm bed – perfect. Soon huts and Chalets began to welcome guests in the winter. Thus began the gentrification of backcountry skiing.

Broome Huts

World War II introduced a whole new world to the GI’s. Members of the 10th Mountain Division were particularly impressed with the European ski scene. Ski areas started popping up everywhere. But Robert McNamara had a different idea. In 1982 he built Margy’s Hut near Aspen in memory of his wife. McNamara hut followed soon after. The 10th Mountain hut system was born and European backcountry had come to the U.S.  10th Mountain Huts Association now manages over thirty huts in Colorado and there are a number of other huts available throughout the mountains. Google for 10th Mountain Huts and a link to many of the others. Water at most is from snow melt so no dogs are allowed.

Grand County was not to be left behind. We now have two huts in the 10th Mountain system. The Broome hut opened in 2013. It sits at 11,300 feet up Second Creek on Berthoud Pass, mile post 234. It is a beautiful timber frame structure that sleeps 16 in style. Just one mile and 850 feet of elevation off the road, it is easy to get to – making it a favorite for families with kids. Skis with skins or snowshoes are necessary. Indoor composting toilets are a special touch. It has an attached “Day Use” room open during the day with its own composting toilet. No dogs here either.

High Lonesome Hut

The newest in the 10th Mountain system is the High Lonesome Hut. Many of you are already familiar with it; it was built in 1996 and upgraded in 2022. It is at 9300 ft on an easy 2.5-mile hike down the Strawberry Trail from the trailhead. It has a kitchen with an oven, running water, and an indoor bathroom. Water is furnished by a well so dogs are welcome; unique in the 10th Mountain System. So head for the woods – huts have no lift lines and the crowd is the one you take with you.

Spring has sprung so the local snow off-track is really variable. North slopes and shaded trails generally offer the best conditions. South slopes start crisp in the morning and can turn wet in the afternoon. Take a tube of F4 liquid wax for changing conditions. The experts at Icebox Mountain Sports have the knowledge and equipment to make your off-track adventure a success. For groomed trails, check out the HTA grooming report, they’ve been busy and the trails are in great shape but will degenerate with warmer weather.

Grand Huts is searching for a place to build their next hut. Contact us via our website,,  if you have any good ideas or a parcel you are aware of with good backcountry hut potential. 

David Maddox is Vice President of Grand Huts Association