Ringing in 2019 at the Opus Hut

This Fall, Taylor discovered something that we’d been looking for but had yet to find: a full-service European-style hut in the United States. Called the Opus hut, it sits at 11,500′ on Ophir pass in the Red Mountain Pass backcountry outside of Silverton and Telluride. Built by a hardcore ski mountaineer turned hut manager, it offers a warm place to sleep complete with breakfast, apres-ski soup, dinner, and optional bar. Oh, did I mention the sauna?

We assumed that the Opus hut would be booked solid, but were pleasantly surprised to discover that there were dates available after New Years. We rang up our good friend Pete and he jumped right on board. We had a hut trip on our hands.

Taylor beginning the 3.5 mile approach under clearing skies.

For a few days before New Years, Taylor and I spent a night up at the very different and very cold Weston Pass Hut before spending a few nights in Ouray to climb some ice and celebrate the holiday. Taylor did swimmingly with ice climbing on her first day ever, but strained her back and could hardly walk on the second day. What’s more, a storm was coming in, and it was possible that snowfall would raise the avalanche danger to high and prevent us from accessing the hut safely. Things weren’t looking good.

Still, the morning of January first dawned snowy but not storming hard, and the avalanche danger remained Considerable. We gave it a go, and under clearing skies toured in to a hut magically perched among beautiful mountains. 7-12″ of new snow skied fantastically, though we stuck to low-angle southerly slopes on account of the avalanche danger. Even there, the collapsing was widespread and puckering. I don’t know how anyone skis regularly in Colorado.

The sun starts to come out.

Taylor’s back gradually loosened, and she and her 18-weeks-pregnant bump made an impressive number of laps  after a prolonged hut yoga session. Each night, the food was excellent, and each morning, the breakfast hearty. Plenty of coffee and beer kept the need for water at bay.

After three nights, we were sad to leave. Still, the sun had heated the snow the prior afternoon and left it crusty, and it felt like we’d gotten away with a perfect powder smash-and-grab. It wasn’t but a few hours after we made it back to Ouray that we were planning our return. Opus, we’ll be back.

The San Juans are, as Peter put it, dramatic.


The lofty perch of the Opus hut. (Photo by Taylor, @tschef)


Toting a spare backpack for my pregnant and back-strained gal. (Photo by Peter, @peterinnes1)


Pete, making an evening lap in dying light.


Home base, and skis from another crew. (Photo by Taylor, @tschef)


Morning dawning in the hut. (Photo by Taylor, @tschef)


Breakfast hut vibes. (Photo by Taylor, @tschef)
You got your carbs and you got your meat. (Photo by Taylor, @tschef)
Taylor skinning towards another lap of beautiful pow.
Hello, Mr Fox.


A pair from the hut, and terrain that is all easily accessible from the Opus.


Team skisalot. (Photo by Peter, @peterinnes1)


Pregnancy only slows her down a little bit; Taylor ripping.


Pete breaking trail towards a good-lookin’ bowl.


Taking turns breaking trail. (Photo by Peter, @peterinnes1)


“Rippin’ big in the new year.” -Pete.


Carving big evening pow turns along the flanks of avalanche debris. (Photo by Peter, @peterinnes1)


Hut fuel, hut shenanigans. (Photo by Taylor, @tschef)


Telluride puzzle. Who wants to figure out the sky? (Photo by Taylor, @tschef)
Full crew, last day. That Peter and I match was just perfect coincidence, not coordinated.


Headed towards more bowl laps.


Opus, we’ll be back soon.



Category: Adventures, Travel, & WritingSkiing


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