Kelly had managed to reserve the entire hut at Eisman approximately one year ago. Because of the demand for one of the most sought after 10th Mountain Huts, we had only been able to obtain the hut for just one evening; the lottery app is in for at least two in 2017.
Vail Mountain as seen from the trail leading up Spraddle Creek
Reasons for excitement were numerous. Being able to finally book one of the better huts, which also happens to be one of the closest to where I call home, was indeed a big one. Another big contributor was the fact that the main skin route crosses into a proposed Wilderness area, which would include a near 7000 acre connection to Eagles Nest Wilderness. Despite my extensive wanderings in and around this Wilderness area, I had never ventured up Spraddle or Middle Creek before.
Chasing blue diamonds
Our group of seventeen was split into numerous pods; a significant portion of which rallied a snowmobile around this roadless area.
The first approach follows the Spraddle Creek Road until the winter hut route is established. My clothes beginning to saturate with sweat as the hours passed, skinning through the woods on a warm February morning.
Vail mountain as seen from the spine between Spraddle and Middle Creek
After gaining nearly 1000′ up Spraddle, we then began a 250′ descent to Middle Creek – now into the heart of the proposed Eagles Nest Wilderness addition. Thick and healthy lodgepole and fir strained the skin track on an irregular path. No sign of human development, past or present, big untouched country. I’m of course biased, but I’m sold on the possibility of designation here.
The northwest face of bald mountain – two natural avalanches ran from the top cornice on down the treeless aspect. The final push up to the hut was a burner. Glopping issues on skins in slush, while slipping on the ice in the shaded switchbacks.
Meaghan enjoying the surrounding vista from the deck of Eisman. The Gore behind us, the distant flats of the tops and the Sawatch. Amazing perspective right from the door of the hut.
Sunbathed party on the patio
A cozy interior that featured one of the best layouts of a hut I’d ever been to.
Eventually most of us did find the ambition to leave the deck to go for a short tour, if not just to see our surroundings.
Micah with Vail and Holy Cross Mountain behind him
In the field I observed this (above) as being a bad sign as I stood on top of the large cornice that formed on the ridgeline directly northeast of the hut. Instead, upon research, the blue hue seen in pockets of snow is indicative of a long travel path through the snow, thus meaning deep snow, not shallow.
Getting ready to drop in
Zigzagging the many skin tracks downhill (west) from the hut and another perspective of Vail mountain and the Sawatch.
Micah trying to nail the full rotation
I was not having a great time while this photo was taken of me. Around sunset I had mistakenly thought that the wrist strap on my camera was secured through my hand. My camera took a hard fall on frozen snow, when I was under the impression it was secured to my wrist. My RX100m3 never took a photo that wasn’t washed out, or blurry for the remainder of the trip. Iphone photos from here on out.
Despite the camera issues, it was quite the sight to watch the sun go down, then later look up to the bright stars of the night and down to the lights of the resort, as snowcats and snowmobiles began their behind the scenes, nighttime operations.
Photo: Matt Felser
Just a one night stay, we were determined to make the ski back home a good one.
We skinned up to around 11,900′ and scouted our descent into the Booth drainage.
Tenmile Range as seen from the Gore
Kelly making turns
Untouched no more
Lunch with a view
Photo: Ian Greene
It felt great to be as far back in Eagles Nest as I had ever been in the winter. We had skied down into the west booth drainage and the area began looking familiar for good reasons. This gave me a reminder of the beauty of this nook and gave me cause to come back yet again.
West Booth Pass
Looking back near Booth Falls