A New Year's Tour Through the Huts of the San Juan Mountains

A New Year's Tour Through the Huts of the San Juan Mountains

Tad Cooke is an Alps & Meters Alpinist, backcountry skier, and photographer hailing from Charlotte, Vermont. Tad's the guy that's up with the sun skinning for a few sweet turns before racing back to the city for the first meeting of the day. His enthusiasm for the outdoors is unrivaled, and his crew shares the passion in a big way. 

I hit the road on Christmas Day, 32 hours straight to Telluride, CO for a week in the surrounding backcountry- including four days in the San Juan Hut System.
 
When temps hover around 5° and your water is snow, the fire must stay stoked- and in the San Juan Huts, that means wielding an axe while on skis. Fortunately, the Alpine Anorak is equally at home on the mountain and around the wood pile.
 
One of those spots where you earn your ride into the sunset. My friend Katy descending (!) towards 11,018 feet at the end of an afternoon tour. Just south of Ouray, Red Mountain Pass has some of the best road accessed backcountry in the lower 48 and a few miles of the wildest driving I’ve ever seen.
Packing bags and packing down coffee, fortifying ourselves for the trek from Last Dollar to the North Pole Hut (that’s a real name). #earlymornings #longdays
Well, the east coast is finally in- which makes me feel a little less bad about how good it was out west. Here’s Katy ripping the western flank of Mount Hayden on New Year’s Eve.
End of a great day under Mount Hayden and the North Pole Peak – wood stove, soup and whiskey in their eyes.