Backcountry Nordic Ski to 11,180 Feet

I prefer not to ski (or bike) alone in the backcountry. However, sometimes you just have to go for it. The last Sunday of January was no exception. The weather was perfect–not too cold or warm–which for Nordic the ideal temperature is anywhere between 8 to 20 degrees F, and clear skies.  I tried to get some friends to ski with me to the 10th Mountain Division Hut (one of about a dozen or so backcountry huts located within the central Colorado mountains) and spend the night. Everyone had plans. So I decided to ski the 5 mile (one-way) and over 2,000 feet of elevation gain solo. The solitude of skiing through a forest thick with snow was actually quite enjoyable. There were chickadees and the tracks of a bobcat in the snow to be my companions.

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After the first 1.5 mile, I applied climbing skins as the ascent was too steep. Backcountry skiing in the mountains is next to impossible without climbing skins. It took 3.5 hours to reach the hut–which was a steep grind for the last 2 hours. At the hut, I made split pea soup from a dehydrated soup mix, had roasted plantains, some vegan chocolate, and drank a 24 oz. bottle of water with a grape electrolyte mix. I sat on the hut’s deck in the sun eating my lunch. I chatted with some other skiers who were spending the night at the hut. After about an hour of rest, I felt my energy returning to my legs.

In the backcountry, my favorite food is dehydrated split pea soup. It weighs nothing to carry, is simple to make– simply adding boiling water. And it tastes great, while being a great source of protein and healthy calories.

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 A good hard ski in the backcountry. Until the next adventure…