Word on the Trail: Current Snow Conditions

March 14th, 2012

NOAA 7-Day Forecast: Sunny.

March has been what the Colorado Avalanche Information Center calls just plainly “unusual.” Ridgway’s high temperatures this week should reach the upper 50s and near the same in our neighboring mountain towns. Spring has sprung.

The snow is still holding on the trails and “now’s the time to go high,” says Joe Ryan. Spring skiing should be shaping up and while the avalanche danger has dropped, springtime snowpack and wet avalanches are a big concern. Caution is still advised. And trips into the huts are a nice safe alternative.

 Friday

Mostly Sunny

Hi 55 F

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Sneffels Half Loop Race Results

March 14th, 2012

1

29/ Brian Smith of Gunnison

5:25:39

2

40 / Scott Simmons of  Durango

5:25:44

3

27/ Billy Laird of Crested Butte

5:39:56

4

12/Janelle Smiley of Crested Butte

5:45:36

5

7/Pat O’Neil of Crested Butte

5:49:30

6

13/Brian Johnson of Aspen

6:10:25

7

49/Jeff Deutsch of Crested Butte

7:06:49

8

23/Allen Hadley of Crested Butte

7:20:46

9

30/Baker Bent of Ridgway

7:28:51

10

37/ Jaimie Palmer of Telluride

7:37:20

11

19/Ray Hellinger of Pagosa Springs

7:27:26

12

42/Jim Crosslund of Telluride

7:59:57

13

32/Mike Pennings of Ridgway

8:10:16

14

6/Mark Drucker fo Crested Butte

8:10:21

15

41/Lance Waring of Telluride

8:20:50

16

8/Rick Murray of Crested Butte

8:24:19

17

18/ Lindsay Records of Crested Butte

8:43:17

18

5/Marcel Medued of Crested Butte

8:44:35

19

Joe Ryan (no bib number)

8:45:28

20

33/Tom Karpeichik of Boulder

8:46:30

21

21/Kirsten Kindt of Boulder

8:46:30

22

20/Liam Biermey of Boulder

8:56:18

23

24/Ryan Guldan of Denver

9:00:58

24

35/John Miller of Telluride

9:05:30

25

4/Gareth Roberts of Crested Butte

9:22:06

26

16/Jim Nichols of Durango

9:23:00

27

14/Gordon Rhodes of Durango

9:24:48

28

15/Keith Bauer of Crested Butte

9:27:12

29

11/Robbie Johnson of Pagosa Springs

9:29:02

30

2/ David Clark of Aspen

9:29:06

31

3/Bob Wade of Aspen

9:29:06

32

25/Brendan Trimboli of Durango

9:49:25

33

36/Wayne Peterson

10:31:00

34

39/Karen Brown of Telluride

11:12:00

Congratulations to all! Thank you for racing with us!

Join us this summer on the same course, without skis and with trail runners! Race details to be announced, stay tuned.

 

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Congratulations Sneffels Half Loop Racers!

March 13th, 2012

Brian Smith (left) of Gunnison took first place with a time of  5:25:39, followed oh so closely by second place finisher Scott Simmons (right) of Durango with 5:25:44 at the return of the Sneffels Half Loop race last weekend.

 

The return of the Sneffels Half Loop backcountry ski race was a welcome one. Forty-one racers took the starting line and forty-one finished at the Ridgway Hut access road and the Blue Lakes trailhead, respectively, the long and short courses.

“We’d like to say thank you to everyone–it was a great race,” said San Juan Hut Systems’ owner and race organizer Joe Ryan. “The trail conditions were very good and the weather was awesome–it was a total blast.”

The bulk of top finishers hailed from Crested Butte/Gunnison and earned what San Juan Huts’ called the Butte Mutants title after they tackeled the race with grace.

Pre-race dinner fuel up in Ridgway. Skiers were getting race ready with spaghetti served by SJHS’s loyal race volutneers, who were also great cooks.

Same course, different season. San Juan Huts is planning on summer racing and hosting an endurance running race, hut to hut, Telluride to Ouray, this summer. Stay tuned for details…

“We want you back for running and biking,” said Ryan. “We look forward to seeing you all next year!”

Skiers at the start. The Sneffels Half Loop started at a prompt 6 a.m. at  dawn of  a sunny day at Last Dollar Pass.

 

 

 

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Backcountry Pizza Hut, How to Make Gourmet Hut Pizza

March 2nd, 2012

Mmmm…..pizza…..What could be better than a deliciously hot pizza after skiing in the backcountry all day? Nothing, no ifs, ands, or buts, gourmet pizza is definitely my favorite dinner to eat at a hut….hands down. If your mouth is salivating, but your mind is filling with doubt about the  feasibility of pulling off a gourmet pizza in a hut, rest assured Gentlemen and Ladies, YOU can do it. It’s actually quite simple and the ingredients can be lightweight too.

Gourmet Hut Pizza Ingredient list for 2 pizza lovers
~15oz bag of Pizza Mix
~1 packet of dried pasta sauce
~ 4 cups of shredded cheese
~1 cup olive oil
~toppings
~read directions below for creative ingredient additions

Step 1. Mix Pizza Mix with the suggested amount of water or until the dough just barely sticks to your hands.  I like to add a little mix, a little water, until I get the right consistency. The more flour you add, the less sticky the dough.

Step 2. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes, i.e. mash and squeeze this big ball of dough until you are bored (which takes about 2 minutes for me).

Step 3. Divide the dough into fist sized balls to make personal pizzas (my preferred method), larger balls to make a large pizza.

Step 4. Sprinkle flour onto a plate or cutting board and smash a ball on this surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Then use a round object like a Nalgene or can as a rolling pin  to get the crust even thinner and more consistent.

Step 5.  Fry the crusts in a covered frying pan flipping them so that both sides are golden brown. I like to do all the crusts at one time.

Step 6. Prepare your toppings. This can be done simultaneously with making the pizza crust if there is more than one chef. Some of my favorites toppings are sundried tomatoes rehydrated in hot water or olive oil, onion, olives, garlic, and basil, and feta. Shredded mozzarella is my go-to cheese, but if you want to really impress your hut mates, you can add/replace it with gouda, feta, blue, or parmesan cheese. The topping options are endless and the more gourmet the toppings the more gourmet the pizza although more traditional pizzas like mozzarella and pepperoni are also sure winners.

Step 7. Prepare your sauce. Again there are many creative options here but the two I will recommend are a more standard red sauce or a pesto sauce. The lightest option is to get powdered pasta sauce packets and rehydrate them at the hut.

Step 8. Putting it all together. Heat one side of the already fried crust and as soon as you flip it over, add the sauce, then cheese, then toppings to the hot side. Cover and cook on low heat for about three minutes. If the crust starts to burn before the cheese is melted, turn the heat down or move it to a corner of the wood stove, add more oil, and spin the pizza in the oil.

Step 9. Remove from pan, place in mouth, and give yourself a pat on the back for you have just made Gourmet Hut Pizza.

If you liked this recipe, please pass it on to someone else who might as well.

Bon Appetite,
Kelly Ryan and the San Juan Hut Systems

P.S. What is your favorite backcountry meal? Any chance you will spill the secret here on our Blog? Do you have any suggestions on how to make this Gourmet Hut Pizza any better? Send me an email at kelly@sanjuanhuts.com or better yet post your comments.

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Sneffels Half Loop Coming Right Up

February 27th, 2012

Are you ready to race? Hard to believe March is upon us, and so too is the Sneffels Half Loop backcountry ski race.

We’ve got the details covered, you only need to show up gear-ready. Bring a sleeping bag and pad for a good night’s rest at the Ridgway Elementary School gym the night before race day. We’ll have a spaghetti feed that evening before race day at the school, and transportation to the race start the day of.

After the race, there could be no better nourishment than burgers and beer at the True Grit in Ridgway. Because you deserve it.

Join us March 10!

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How Pre-GPS Homo Sapiens Followed Trails

February 25th, 2012

As we enter the modern navigation era of GPS tracks, Google Earth files, and Spot devices, we also want to help our more modern guests with some of the tried and true navigation practices of days gone by. What would you do if your GPS fails? Here is a synopsis, from most to least obvious, of how we have found our way around the mountains for many years.

Trail Signs: It is easier than you think to pass a wooden sign on the side of the trail when your mind is wandering and your eyes are fixed on the trail ahead or the mountains above. Trail signs may refer to the name, number, or destination of the trail so it is helpful to have a good topographic map with you.

Trail Markers: Trail markers of various sizes and colors can be found in many areas along the trails. These vary from blue diamonds with reflective tape in the center, to painted mettle strips hammered into trees, to orange flagging. Trail markers are less reliable than Blazes (see below) as they often fall off, are torn down, or fade in the sunlight.

Blazes: Blazes are etched into tree bark and are the shape of a lower case ‘i’. They are often found about head hight (when there is no snow) and on both sides of trees to mark the trail from both directions. In the San Juans many of the blazes are old and the shape is often contorted, but once you train your eye to find them, you will see them all along the trails. Learning to see the blazes is well worth your time as they are the most prolific and universal trail marking.

Cairns: Cairns are piles of rocks that people have built alongside a path to mark it. Most Cairns will not be visible in the winter but you may encounter a few along windswept alpine ridges. Be aware that Cairns are easy to build and not all who build them are marking the best path.

The Path Itself: Sometimes the path can be hard to see with new snow covering it. Look for an indented ‘snake’ where the snow has been compressed by previous travelers. Also remember to look up, as the path will often be discernible by the space between the trees above.

All of these will help you stay on the trail and find your way with nothing but your eyes. We also advise that you bring a good topo map and compass and know how to use them. GPS and other modern tools can be extremely useful, we just hope that our guests don’t rely too heavily upon them. Besides, following a trail without one can be invigorating and force you to be more aware of your surroundings, the majestic San Juan Mountains. Stay tuned for more on how to make a reliable tour plan.

By Kelly Ryan

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Sneffels Half Loop Start Time Now at 6 a.m.!

February 20th, 2012

If the 4 a.m. start was daunting, then rest assured, the Sneffels Half Loop start time is now a little later adding more light.

On March 10 sunrise is 6:19 a.m. and to give our racers a little more visibility we’ve bumped the start time up two hours to 6 a.m. That gives racers a total of 12 hours of daylight to complete the 33-mile race (sunset on March 10 is at 6:01 p.m.)

Have you signed up yet? We’re still looking for racers and volunteers. Give us a call at 970.626.3033 or visit our website www.sanjuanhuts.com.

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Last Minute Last Dollar Hut Opening!

February 15th, 2012

What’s typically one of our busiest weekends of winter, Presidents’ Day weekend has a last minute opening at the Last Dollar Hut. We’re in the heart of winter with plenty of new snowfall and skiing into the huts couldn’t be more picturesque.

Last Dollar Hut (10,980′) sits 300 feet and 1/4 mile above Last Dollar Pass. There are direct views across the San Miguel River canyon and the north faces of the Wilson Range.

Last Dollar Hut is also our furthest hut west and closest to Telluride. So make some turns at the Telluride Ski Area and join us for a night at the huts.

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Storms Start Rolling through the San Juans

February 14th, 2012

“The deepest accumulations will be in the San Juan Mountains,” reads the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s forecast today. We’ll take that.

The last few weeks we’ve seen several feet of snow fall in our corner of the state and across Colorado. And while a weak system exits our region after last weekend’s storm, the next series of stronger Pacific storms will begin Sunday.

With all of this new load, still the snowpack remains very unstable. Avalanche danger is high and widely varying, precarious conditions exist. And sadly, Colorado had its fifth avalanche fatality in the side country of the Telluride Ski Area on Sunday.

According to CAIC, this recent storm “translates to an inch or more of water loaded onto a weak snowpack.” We’ll take that, too–into serious consideration.

Be safe out there.

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Time to Think Bike Season—Is Your Trip Booked?

February 11th, 2012

Okay, we’re not trying to jump the gun on summer season, but biking season is just around the corner. Have you booked your Durango to Moab or Telluride to Moab trip? Many have and it seems even mid-winter, biking is still on the brain. Check out videos on our site for a little visual inspiration.

Also, let us help lighten the load in travel planning. New this summer, we are offering full travel packages to get you here, get you settled, and get you on the trail, at discounted prices. Everything from shuttles to bike rentals to lodging are being offered via our travel packages. Simply give a ring to see how we can help. 970.626.3033

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