The 10th Mountain huts are a remarkable network of backcountry huts spread through the mountains of the Rocky Mountains of Central Colorado. They have long been famous among backcountry skiers and riders. Using the network of huts, it is possible to ski from Aspen to Vail (a distance of roughly 150 kilometres, depending on which route you take) and from near Edwards all the way to Leadville. Check here for a Mountain Journal story on the network and backcountry touring in the Central Rockies.

Built over several decades the huts are mostly log cabins, with bunks, lovely communal spaces, and well fitted out kitchens. They have micro solar systems for lighting. 10th Mountain is a not for profit organisation and huts are booked online. They are popular both in winter for skiing/ splitboarding and summer for mountain bike riding.

Last winter they launched a climate project.

10th Mountain say:

‘Climate change is our greatest planetary threat, affecting all species and ecosystems. We’re at a critical junction, and the actions we take in the next decade will affect everything. For the 10th Mountain Hut Division Hut Association, our greatest threats are decreased snowpack, increased fire danger, severe weather, and vast landscape changes’.

The Climate Projects is working in three areas:

  • They are working to reduce the carbon impact of their hut network,
  • they are looking into ways to make local forests more resilient against insects, drought, and wildland fire, and
  • encouraging the hut community to use its voice for climate action.

Carbon reductions

10th Mountain has partnered with CLEER, a Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit consulting company, to improve the energy-efficiency of hut and administrative operations. CLEER has conducted a thorough inventory of 10th Mountain’s greenhouse gas emissions, completed onsite inspections and assessments of 10th Mountain’s Aspen office, employee housing, and Base of Operations in Leadville, and delivered a very useful report that will guide 10th Mountain’s actions to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Forest health

In 2010, 10th Mountain contracted a comprehensive forest management plan that taught us the composition, age and condition of the forest around the huts and identified ways to make that forest more resilient against insects, drought, and wildland fire. Now, in response to more extreme wildland fire behavior, we’re re-assessing how best to reduce fuels around the huts, further modifying the huts to reduce ignitability, and other measures to protect life and defend the huts.

Call to action

Even though more than 7 in 10 Americans believe climate change is happening, and 6 in 10 are worried about it, two-thirds of Americans rarely, if ever, talk about climate change with the people they care about. Where better to have this conversation than at a 10th Mountain hut, surrounded by friends and wilderness?

We hope our hut community uses its voice for climate action. We want hut users to tell our policy makers that they care about climate change and want to see them enact laws and policies that address greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts. Together, we can make an impact on climate change.

Further information on the project can be found here.