While much of the phenomenal backcountry skiing near Ouray, Colorado is easily accessed from your vehicle via Red Mountain Pass, there is even more waiting to be discovered a bit deeper into this spectacular range. The Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge is located beyond the normal reach of a “day tour” and makes for a perfect basecamp to explore some of the skiing highlights of this area. Accessed from a few different points, this lodge sits at 11,000 feet in Richmond Basin, loaded with great ski terrain in all directions. It is a perfect place to disconnect from your busy life and re-connect with powder on a multi-day ski trip in the comforts of a beautiful, modern back country lodge in a stunning location. There are many huts and lodges in the San Juans to choose from, but the Mount Hayden area has hands down the best ski terrain in the area, only matched by the warm charm of the charismatic host, Eric Johnson.
THE HAUTE ROUTE
- Transportation from the Geneva airport to Chamonix
- Two nights lodging in Chamonix
- Lift tickets to the Grand Montets ski area, and all lift tickets while on the Haute Route
- 5 nights in mountain huts (Argentiere, Triente, Prafleuri, Dix, Vignettes) with pack lunch for the day including 1 liter of water
- 1 night accommodation in Zermatt with an awesome fondue dinner
- Luggage transfer from Chamonix to Zermatt (so our gear is waiting for us when we arrive)
- Airport transfer from Zermatt to Geneva
- All guide accomodations and wages
Conditions can vary day by day, and season to season. However, unlike the American Rockies, the snow conditions set up faster after storms and are generally more stable.
Participants must be advanced intermediate skiers with prior backcountry touring experience, be familiar with how to use all necessary ski touring equipment (including avalanche safety equipment) and be able to safely descend steep snow in varying conditions. They should also be fit enough to carry a 15 kg pack uphill for 4-6 hours a day at a steady pace for multiple consecutive days.
Multiday Ski Traverse Packlist
SKI SET UP
O Alpine Touring skis with touring bindings and skins or
O Telemark skis with Tele-binding and skins
O AT or Tele Boots
SKI MOUNTAINEERING GEAR
O Ski crampons – must fit bindings and ski width
O Boot crampons – a ski-boot specific crampon made with light alloy is best
O Ice Axe (50-60m) – ultra light is best
O Light ski harness
O 2 locking screw-gate carabiners, 24” sewn sling, webbing 1,5 m, 5-6 mm (for short Prusik), webbing ca. 2,5 m, 5-6 mm (for long Prusik)
O 1 Ice screw
O Ski or Climbing Helmet. Climbing helmets are often lighter.
SNOW SAFETY GEAR
O Avalanche Transceiver (457 kHz), less than 5 years old with fresh batteries as well as spare batteries
O Ski pack (35-40 liter) with a strap system to carry skis (e.g. 35L Patagonia Ascensionist Backpack)
O Plastic bag for wet clothes
Next to skin layers:
O Short sleeve T-shirts (2 pr.) – light merino wool or Capilene
O Long sleeve light merino wool or Capilene or zip t-neck
O Merino wool or capilene briefs (2-3 pr.)
O Merino wool or capilene light long johns
O Ski socks (2 pr.)– wool or synthetic
O Fleece pullover or full zip (ideally Patagonia Piton Hybrid Hoody)
O Soft-shell mountain pants (Patagonia “Guide Pants” or similar – synthetic stretch woven fabric)
O Puff jacket, nylon with synthetic insulation ( e.g. Nano-Puff Jacket) or a Down jacket (e.g. Down Sweater Full-Zip Hoody)
O Light alpine wind shirt (e.g. Alpine Houdini) or
O Light outer water resistant jacket (e.g. M10 or Super Cell jacket)
O Light wool hat
O Light neck gaiter (Buff or fleece)
O Sun hat – with visor
O Gloves – Medium weight, warm ski gloves and light gloves for spring conditions
O 1-Liter water container or hydration system or large thermos
O 1⁄2 liter steel thermos (optional, but strongly recommended)
O Sunglasses with side protection
O Goggles with light lenses for storm conditions
O Sunscreen – 50+ SPF (small amount dispensed in squeeze bottle)
O Lip balm – 50+ SPF
O Small personal first aid kit – Moleskin tape (protective heel applications recommended, e.g. Compeed Blister Plasters),
O Bandaids, aspirin, personal meds
O Small toilet kit – toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
O Light headlamp with fresh, long lasting batteries. Extra batteries are usually available for purchase at huts
O Camera, with charger or extra batteries
O Small pocket knife
O Ear plugs
O Ultra light hut sleeping bag (required at all huts e.g. Meru Mummie)
O Alpine Club membership card
O Rescue Insurance information
O Cash and Credit Card
O Ski Bag – Medium zippered duffel bag with pad lock
O Clothing and footwear appropriate for spring continental travel
O Passport and Passport pouch
O Credit Card
FOOD DURING THE TOUR
At all the huts and lodges you will get complimentary hot tea. Other drinks including beer, wine or additional water may be purchased individually.
Lunch Food: Skiing food, bars or sandwiches will be available for purchase at the lodges. At some huts the lunch food is complementary, but not at all.
Some people my wish to bring certain products they are familiar with from home such as energy bars. We request each person calculate their lunch food carefully for the amount they will need as this can add a lot of weight. High carbohydrate and caloric value are recommended.
The name of the game here is endurance and recovery. Building the endurance needed to skin all day, for multiple, consecutive days, will be important to maximizing your enjoyment of this beautiful trip.
If regular endurance exercise isn’t already part of your routine, you’ll need to start this program eight weeks before the start of the trip. And develop the endurance you’ll want to engage in a minimum of two 1-hour bouts and two consecutive half-to-full day excursion; running, cross-country skiing, or ski touring; each week. All should be completed at an intensity where you can breathe through your nose while running or skiing. To train at a higher intensity is to train the wrong system, we’re primarily concerned with developing your aerobic system.
The first first three weeks are roughly the same amount of training in terms of time. For most people this will range between five and 12 hours of total time.
Weeks one-three, the same amount of training time each week.
Weeks four and five, increase your training time by 10% over week three.
Weeks six and seven, increase your training time by 5% over week five.
Week eight, drop to 50% of the training time of week seven to consolidate your gains and allow your body to enjoy some rest and arrive fresh and ready for the tour. in a structured approach to training?
Read Steve House’s and Scott Johnston’s Book: Training for the New Alpinism
Check Out Uphill Athlete’s training and coaching options