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.
Even though this suggested route is the most frequently traveled route between Uncle Bud’s Hut and the 10th Mountain Division Hut, it is long and difficult. Unlike unlike most “valley” and “road” 10th Mountain routes, this trail cuts through many drainages. You’ll enjoy plenty of good views on this route. The 14,000-foot peaks of the Mosquito Range loom to the east and the majestic Continental Divide rises to the west and south. The route uses sections of the Colorado Trail. The suggested route deviates in places from this trail for more efficient skiing and to avoid avalanche slopes.
You can begin this route by skiing westerly from Uncle Bud’s Hut down into Bud’s Gulch then swinging north, or else take a more direct northerly route from the hut (after figuring things out using a map.) Either way, climb northeast to a sparsely timbered saddle at 11,680 feet. From the saddle climb west for 1/4 mile up the ridge to 11,800 feet. This is the high point of the route and a good place for a long session with map and compass. Remember these wilderness trails are marked with tree blazes. Having a GPS set up for the route is a good idea as well.
Strip your skins on the ridge, then take a dropping traverse northwest into Porcupine Gulch. To avoid avalanche terrain, this traverse starts above the marked route of the Colorado Trail, then drops down short switchbacks through a strip of timber into Porcupine Gulch. Sticking to this timber helps avoid avalanche terrain to either side. You may find some options for downhill turns in this area, but pay attention to avalanche safety. Cross Porcupine Creek at 11,240 feet. Next, climb up the north side of Porcupine Creek to a broad flat saddle at 11,480 feet (with several small lakes). This short climb is hardly worth re-skinning for; try a bit of cross country wax under the middle of your ski, or just herringbone.
From the broad saddle, drop north via two switchbacks into Longs Gulch. Cross Longs Creek at 10,900 feet, then follow the Main Range/Colorado Trail down through intermittent clearings on the north side of Longs Creek to 10,740 feet. At this point your route (still on the Main Range/Colorado Trail) climbs northeast out of Longs Gulch, then around the shoulder that separates Longs Gulch from the West Tennessee Creek drainages. The Colorado Trail continues east here but your route travels north, so leave the Main Range/Colorado Trail when it starts to drop east (10,880 feet), and take a climbing traverse north to cross the south fork of West Tennessee Creek at 10,990 feet.
Climb up another shoulder north out of the south fork of West Tennessee Creek, then descend north past a small lake (11,140 feet). After the lake continue north a few hundred yards, then traverse west through dark timber and across a marshy clearing. Swing northeast and drop 1/4 mile into the clearings of the main West Tennessee Creek drainage. From 10,980 feet in West Tennessee Creek climb northeast then north over a small shoulder into the North Fork of West Tennessee Creek (11,100 feet), then north onto a sparsely treed hillside. Climb the west side of this clear area to a small lake at 11,340 feet.
You will now be in another relatively flat area. From the east side of the lake, ski east several hundred yards through timber, then swing northeast and ski through 1/4 mile of intermittent clearings to a large flat clearing just south of the hut. You can see the hut from here; the trail crosses the clearing.
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. Learn more about avalanche hazards here.
Avalanche size/destructive force is scaled according to the American Avalanche Association as follows: