The last weekend in February Geri and I went on our annual hut trip with a group of 10 friends from Denver, Summit County and the Aspen/Carbondale area. This year we went to the Fritz-Benedict Hut which is up Hunter Creek outside of Aspen.
Over the six-mile trek we gained more than 2,700 vertical feet in elevation, to reach the hut which sits at 10, 970 feet. It took us about 5 1/2-hours of breaking trail through 10 inches of fresh snow. Five of us were on skis and 5 were on snowshoes, which takes about the same effort climbing up steep hills, but coming down skis are more fun and much faster.
There are actually two cabins – Fritz and Fabi. The Benedict Huts were built in 1997 in honor of Fritz Benedict, the father of the 10th Mountain Division Hut System and his wife, Fabi. The cabins are a blend of contemporary angles and lines and old-world materials, including wood recycled from a nearby barn, wooden logs, corrugated metal, boulders and large windows. Another amenity of the Fritz Hut, was a basket-full of “house” slippers for guests. The cabins share perhaps the most interesting outhouse in the hut system, with floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, giving the user the feel of being in a tree house with a 180-degree view.
As usual we combined efforts to provide breakfasts and dinners, while everyone was on their own for lunches and beverages. Geri and I were in charge of the first mornings’ breakfast. We made blueberry pancakes and bacon, but committed a ‘hut foul’ by accidentally packing in whole bean coffee. Whoops. Thankfully the second breakfast group shared their ground beans with all! After our hearty breakfast we ventured out for a 2 1/2-hour tour around the snow covered lakes, just below the cabins. We caught a nice break between snow storms and had blue skies and beautiful views before another storm blew in providing more powder for our trip downhill the next morning.
We enjoyed a celebratory lunch at the famous Woody Creek Tavern between Aspen and Old Snowmass before heading home in different directions.