There is no better place to get the goods and enjoy the mountain life than at a backcountry hut – away from the crowds, the lifts and the buzz of the daily routine. A backcountry hut immerses you in the pristine winter environment, local ski culture and, hopefully, deep, fresh powder snow. Either base yourself in one hut and explore local peaks or venture on a hut-to-hut ski tour. Ski mountaineer Dave Waag on why the backcountry rocks.
1. Unplug and immerse yourself in winter
Eat, sleep, ski – repeat. The rhythm of a hut trip lets you live and breathe skiing. The mountains are right out the door waiting for you. The phone and computer are not. Big traverses, extended ski runs and epic powder days are at your feet. Staying in a hut allows you to truly leave the buzz of modern life behind. Your mind and body will thank you.
2. Untracked, virgin snow
You can dream about skiing uncut powder snow or you can do it. Hut life delivers the possibility away from the feeding frenzy of resort skiing. On a hut-to-hut ski trip you can encounter fresh lines all to yourself. And provided you're not on a super popular classic route, there's usually plenty to go around. Steep chutes, mellow glades and open alpine bowls beckon — breathe deep and enjoy the blank canvas.
3. Peak bagging
Test your mettle and bag a summit, or two. Multi-day hut trips afford you the time and proximity to get after it. Whether it’s a classic European high route or a little-known gem in the Rockies, hut trips tee you up for success. Few experiences match the sensation of bagging a high summit. The ski descent is the icing on the cake. Top tip: local knowledge is king — find a guide.
Hut trips are as much about enjoying gourmet meals as they are about enjoying high places. Whether it’s a European hut where hearty meals are prepared for you or a catered trip to British Columbia where it’s gourmet fare three meals a day, eating an excellent meal is one of the great pleasures after a full day of ski touring.
Backcountry huts make wild places accessible. Adventure is bigger and better when you are surrounded by wilderness. You can go big, go high and ski until your legs can ski no more – but you can also go back to the hut to rest, recover and refuel. There’s no long slog out or long drive home; mountains surround you, take advantage and enjoy it.
6. Culture and Camaraderie
Mountain huts are part of the local ski and mountaineering history and invariably staffed by some great characters who help to preserve and perpetuate mountain culture at its finest. Enjoying the view and the access that skiing and climbing pioneers before you enjoyed adds to the rich history of a hut’s legacy and the camaraderie of your crew. You’ll remember that night sampling shots of local Grappa for a long time to come, not to mention the days spent laying fresh tracks with friends.