Colorado’s backcountry huts to require single-group booking again in 2022-2023

There is some disappointing news for many skiers who love to plan annual hut trips in Colorado’s backcountry: For at least one more winter, the Tenth Mountain Division Hut Association will require users to book the entire hut due to COVID.

Prior to the pandemic, individual users and small parties could book reservations in the huts, which typically accommodate 16 to 20 guests. For the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, Tenth Mountain required “single-party” reservations out of concern over COVID transmission. That will be the case again for the 2022-23 season.

“There’s a lot of people who really enjoy booking less than the capacity of the hut, and for really good reason, that’s what we’re all about,” said Ben Dodge, executive director of the Tenth Mountain Division Hut Association. “That multi-party experience is a fundamental part of what we do. People enjoy it, that’s why they go to the huts – to meet other people – and it’s more affordable that way. We’re committed to returning to that multi-party reservation configuration as soon as we possibly can.”

Here are examples of how it works in practice. It would cost individuals or small parties $37 per person per night plus tax to reserve spots at the Tenth Mountain Division Hut near Tennessee Pass, if not for the single-party requirement. Because of it, though, they would have to book the entire hut (which has a capacity of 16) at a cost of $644.10 including tax.

Similarly the Fowler/Hilliard Hut, located between Vail and Leadville, which also costs $37 per night per person would require spending $778.05 (including a $10 per person Vail Pass Recreation Area fee) for the whole hut.

“It’s a big chunk of change to put out, I know,” Dodge said. “It’s unfortunate for those who want to book a smaller number.”

Dodge conceded it was the “conservative” policy decision to make, but seemed prudent for health reasons.

“I think the idea of having multiple parties — they’ve never met one another — staying in a hut and sleeping together in the same room, that’s the kicker,” Dodge said. “If we had entirely segregated sleeping quarters, I think you could probably feel better about having multiple parties staying in a hut, even with these (COVID) variants. But sleeping overnight in a confined area, there’s potential transmission.”

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