This 10th Mountain suggested route is the longest trail to the Jackal Hut. Most often, the Pearl Creek section is used as part of the ski-through between the Jackal and Fowler/Hilliard huts.
From the Camp Hale Trailhead ski northeast 1/2 mile across a bridge over the Eagle River to intersect a snow-covered road running north/south at the base of the mountain. Turn left and ski north 3/4 mile, then turn right on the distinct Resolution Road. Ski 1 1/2 miles up the Resolution Road to 9,678 feet.
Turn right (SE) off the Resolution Road onto another distinct road-cut that crosses a bridge over Resolution Creek. The route to this point is groomed for snowmobiles and heavily used by snowmobiles. Expect and respect all users. Once on the south side of the creek, look for a 10th Mountain marked trail that leaves the road-cut and heads directly into the Pearl Creek drainage which is not permitted for snowmobiles. Follow this trail for 1 3/4 miles on the southwest side of the creek to 10,320 feet where you cross to the northeast side of the drainage and climb another 1/2 mile to 10,560 feet. Make a 90-degree turn and climb through willows and clearings to 11,000 feet, then out of Pearl Creek to an 11,420-foot saddle on the ridge between Pearl Creek and the East Fork of the Eagle River.
From the saddle, stick to the ridge and ski 3/4 mile to the open clearing at the highest point on the ridge (11,716 feet), then drop 56 vertical feet SW to the Jackal Hut (11,660 feet) which sits just below and to the south of the highest part of the ridge. The building is visible from several hundred feet away, but you can miss it if you are skiing on the north side of the wide ridge crest, especially in a whiteout. If you know how long it takes you to ski 3/4 mile and you use your altimeter, you’ll be sure to find it.
REVERSE ROUTE: From the front steps of Jackal Hut, traverse NE several hundred feet to the ridge crest. Descend the ridge E for 3/4 mile to the distinct 11,420-foot saddle. Drop down the north side of the saddle into Pearl Creek. You can make turns for a few hundred vertical feet, but make sure you’re on the 10th Mountain marked trail when the willows begin at 11,000 feet, otherwise you’ll “wander in the willows.” Intersect Pearl Creek at 10,560 feet and cross to the north side of the creek. Descend the Pearl Creek drainage to Resolution Road in the Resolution Creek drainage. Ski Resolution Road SW 2 miles downvalley to Camp Hale. If visibility is poor in Camp Hale you might have trouble finding the trailhead and bridge. In this case you can strike cross country to Highway 24, your only obstacles being the Eagle River and up to a mile of trail breaking. In midwinter you can usually find a snow bridge over the Eagle River.
SAFETY NOTES: Use your survival ski skills on the descent from the 11,420-foot saddle.
Locations of Observed or Reported Avalanche Activity: No avalanche activity has been reported along this suggested route.
Drive I-70 5 miles W from Vail Resort or 55 miles E from Glenwood Springs and turn off at the Minturn Exit (Exit 171) onto Highway 24. Travel south on Hwy 24 approximately 16.5 miles to mile marker 160. Look to your left for two stone gate posts and a plaque. Parking is straightforward and there is a great year-round permanent bridge at this trailhead.
To reach this trailhead from Leadville, from the intersection of Highways 91 and 24 turn onto Highway 24 and drive approximately 14.5 miles to Camp Hale.