Hut to Hut/Peter Estin to Polar Star Inn & Seipel Hut via Ironedge and Newcomer Spring

Total Mileage


Trailhead Elevation


Cumulative Elevation Gain


Cumulative Elevation Loss



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Route Description

Avalanche activity has been reported along this route. Please see the route description for locations of reported avalanche activity.

HUT TO HUT distances are usually longer than from trailhead to hut. Use winter specific topographic maps. Routes between huts are not often used so may not be tracked; navigation and breaking trail may be particularly challenging.

There are several connecting routes between the Peter Estin Hut and the Polar Star Inn/Seipel Hut.  You can descend to the East Brush Creek drainage via the Ironedge Trail or Hat Creek Road. The Ironedge Trail is technical and shorter, and the Hat Creek Road is not technical and longer.  You can climb  from the East Brush Creek drainage to the Polar Star Inn/Seipel Hut via Newcomer Spring Trail or the Fulford Road. Those who descend via Ironedge often choose to climb via Newcomer Spring, and those who descend via Hat Creek often choose Fulford Road.

To descend the Ironedge Trail, ski 50 feet W from the Peter Estin Hut, then take care to turn N onto the 10th Mountain suggested route down through timber to the Ironedge Saddle. From the Ironedge Saddle ski the fall line for a short distance to a dropping traverse to the left. This traverse leads to the famous Ironedge switchbacks. Ski down the switchbacks to Fulford Cave Campground and descend about 1/2 mile on the very gradual road to the intersection (9,280′) with the 10th Mountain marked Newcomer Spring Trail, turn right, and and follow it as it climbs a few hundred feet east (paralleling the road below), then switchbacks left (northwest).

Stay on the trail as it makes a climbing traverse to 9,520 feet, switchbacks right, and climbs to 10,000 feet. The trail eases off here, gradually climbs north, makes a long contour around a shoulder, then drops a short distance to Nolan Creek at 10,180 feet. Cross Nolan Creek, then follow the trail north as it winds 3/4 mile to Upper Town (10,060 feet), where you take a right (north) turn onto the 10th Mountain marked route. This next section does not follow a snow-covered road, so it requires more attention. Climb 1 mile up five switchbacks to the New York Mountain jeep trail (10,520 feet). Take a right on the snow-covered jeep trail and follow it as it climbs 1/2 mile to 10,830 feet. Leave the jeep trail here and continue northeast on a 10th Mountain marked trail 1/2 mile to the Polar Star Inn.

Locations of Observed or Reported Avalanche Activity: Avalanche activity has been reported along this suggested route at locations indicated below. Elevations indicate approximate elevation where the slides crossed the trail, not the starting zones.

  •  Approx. 1/2 mile before the Fulford Cave Campground, just before the creek crossing, two slopes on skier’s right (9,520′). D2.
  • Approx. 3/4 mile before the Fulford Cave Campground, large slope on skier’s left (9,600′). D3.

Avalanche size/destructive force is scaled according to the American Avalanche Association as follows:

  • D1 – Relatively harmless to people
  • D2 – Could bury or injure a person
  • D3 – Could bury a car, damage a truck, destroy a wood frame house, or break a few trees
  • D4 – Could destroy a railroad car, large truck, several buildings, or a substantial amount of forest
  • D5 – Could gouge the landscape, largest snow avalanches known