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.
From the front door of Vance’s Cabin ski N across a clearing. In the timber at the north end of the clearing take care to find the marked 10th Mountain trail that leads N from the clearing on a 1 1/4-mile traverse (on roads and trails) to 11,033 feet. From here continue N down the ridge for 3/4 mile to 10,600 feet.
Turn right (E) and follow another dropping traverse to a flat marshy clearing at 10,400 feet in Jones Gulch. Stick to the north edge of the clearing, cross Jones Creek, then descend N down the east side of Jones Gulch (can be a scary downhill). When the angle eases off at 10,220 feet, turn right (E) again and drop through several curves to a long easterly trail-cut that takes you to the East Fork of the Eagle River.
Cross the Eagle River and ski the snow-covered road for about 1/4 mile and take a right (9,580 feet) onto the well-signed Cataract Creek jeep trail. From here climb the jeep trail. The Colorado Trail uses the Cataract Creek jeep trail, so you’ll find the little triangular Colorado Trail markers along with standard 10th Mountain markers. Cataract Creek is nestled in a steep-sided gulch, so the road winds as it works its way through the gulch. At 10,720 feet in the Cataract Creek drainage you leave the jeep trail and climb N 1/2 mile and 700 vertical feet to a wide saddle (11,420 feet) atop the north ridge of the drainage.
Ski W from the saddle over a bump to another 11,420-foot saddle. which intersects with the route to Jackal via Pearl Creek. From here stick to the ridge and ski 3/4 mile W to the open clearing at the highest point on the ridge (11,716 feet), then drop S to the Jackal Hut (11,660 feet) which sits just below and to the south of the highest part of the ridge. The hut 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.
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.
Avalanche size/destructive force is scaled according to the American Avalanche Association as follows: