This route follows the well-used, snow-covered Shrine Pass Road. It is a long trip with comparatively easy navigation. Thus, this is a good “classroom tour” for the freshman backcountry skier. Note you’ll share the road with snowmobiles.
In the town of Red Cliff find the Shrine Pass Road and reconnoiter your parking (see Red Cliff Trailhead). In general, remember that you will follow the distinct, snow-covered Shrine Pass Road up the Turkey Creek drainage to Shrine Pass. At Shrine Pass you leave the main road and take a dedicated 10th Mountain suggested route to the Shrine Mountain Inn.
Start with shorter, skinnier skins or Nordic kick wax as you’ll be following a fairly low angled snow-covered road. At 2 1/2 miles (9,000 feet) on the Shrine Pass Road you’ll pass an obvious intersection at Wearyman Creek, where a lesser used route goes to the Fowler/Hilliard hut. Take care to stay on the Shrine Pass Road and continue 4 miles up Turkey Creek to the only switchback on the road in a large clearing at 10,360 feet. In poor weather it is possible to lose track of the road here, especially with high winds. Just remember that the road leaves the gut of the drainage and climbs east through the clearing (staying on the north side of the drainage). The important thing is to find the road as it re-enters timber at the east end of the clearing.
Just 1/4 mile into the timber (10,660 feet) you’ll pass the left (north) turnoff of the Lime Creek Road. Stay on the Shrine Pass Road and continue east then southeast through light timber to Shrine Pass, a nondescript, flat clearing that forms the divide between Turkey Creek and West Tenmile Creek. Ski to the east end of the Shrine Pass clearing. Look for a White River National Forest sign facing east. Ski west from this sign several hundred yards across a clear area and enter a conifer forest at a gate. Follow an obvious road-cut through the forest 1/4 mile south to the Shrine Mountain Inn. Use your map, compass, altimeter and GPS for insurance. Chuck’s Cabin is visible from several hundred feet down the road.
Be sure to stay on the Shrine Pass Road, as there are several tempting turnoffs along the way. Don’t let the ease of following this road lull you into complacent route-finding—use your skills. The Shrine Pass Road is heavily used by snowmobiles, so keep your eyes and ears open, and be courteous.
Drive I-70 5 miles W from Vail Resorts or 55 miles E from Glenwood Springs to the Minturn exit (Exit 171). Travel south on Hwy 24 approximately 10 miles to a left turnoff that leads a short distance down into a canyon and into Red Cliff. The Shrine Pass Road leaves from the northeast corner of Red Cliff. It is poorly signed but fairly obvious. If in doubt, ask any local where it is, and the USGS map shows it clearly as the only road up Turkey Creek.
Once you find the Shrine Pass Road, the best place to park is in Red Cliff on any side street or in the lot by the Marshal’s office. You can also drive just over a mile up the Shrine Pass Road to the water tank.