While backcountry access gates and uphill climbing at resorts are fueling the AT ski craze — sales were up 20 percent in the last six months, according to Leisure Trends and Snowsports Industries America — so is the burgeoning trend of hut skiing.
There’s hardly a better place for consumers to use backcountry gear than at a growing system of ski yurts and cabins throughout the country, offering the lure of untracked powder and ample time to enjoy the outdoors — all the while letting guests retire to a hot toddy by the fire and a cozy bed afterward.
But not everyone knows where to go. Peter VandeCarr of Backdoor Sports, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, said people come into his ski shop all the time asking about where they can find a hut to ski into. He tells them his favorites and refers them to resources offering more information. “It always leads to sales,” he said. “Some people don’t have anything they need, so we either sell or rent it to them. Others pick up accessories. Even they have most of what they need, they always seem to buy something else.”
To help your store fuel the stoke — and add to the category’s growing sales in the process — we’ve compiled the following sampling of booking sources by region to help your customers break trail with this fast-growing trend.
>> www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/: As the nation’s oldest outdoor recreation and conservation organization, the Appalachia Mountain Club (AMC) has been booking huts for skiers for 125 years in its mission to promote and protect the mountains in the Appalachian region. It currently handles the bookings for seven lodges and eight self-service cabins throughout New England, as well as eight huts in the White Mountains, two of which, Zealand and Carter Notch, are open in late fall, winter, and spring on a self-service, caretaker basis.
>> www.huts.org: The non-profit 10th Mountain Division Hut Association manages a system of 34 backcountry huts in Colorado, connected by 350 miles of suggested routes. Honoring the men of 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army, who trained during World War II at Camp Hale near current-day Vail, Colo., the association books stays for 19 huts in the 10th Mountain Division Huts system, four in the Summit Huts system, one in the Grand Huts system, and seven in the Braun and Friends system.
>> http://utahadvjournal.com/index.php/skiing-the-beehives-backcountry-yurts: Site listing multitude of huts to book throughout Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
>> http://montanabackcountry.org/beta/hut-touring/: Resource operated by the Montana Backcountry Alliance listing hut and yurt opportunities throughout Montana.
>> www.sierraclub.org: The Sierra Club books and operates 13 ski-to huts throughout the Sierra Nevada, including its flagship, 140-capacity Clair Tappaan Lodge, a rustic retreat at the top of Donner Pass built by volunteers in the 1930s and a great jumping off point to four other huts in the region. Its offerings include seven huts in northern California; one in theYosetmite region, built in 1903 in honor of early Sierra Club director Joseph LeConte; and four in the southern part of the state, including the 64-person Harwood Lodge, built in 1930 in the San Gabriel Mountains.
>> http://www.rendezvoushuts.com/theexperience.html Books and operates five huts in Washington’s Methow Valley, all accessible via skate-skiing (yes, groomed skate skiing) trails.
>> www.cascadehuts.com: Books and operates three smaller huts (up to eight people) in Washington’s Cascades.
>> www.wallowahuts.com: Hosted/guided trips to four huts and yurts in Washington’s Wallowa Mountains in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.
http://www.skimtta.com/: North America's largest no-fee hut system (only a nominal permit processing fee), offering 50 miles of trails, three huts and a yurt.
https://threesistersbackcountry.com/huts/: Two 20-foot yurts (with a wood-fired sauna) in Oregon’s Tam McArthur Rim in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.
>> http://www.fs.fed.us/: Forest Service site with links to U.S. Forest Service-operated huts throughout the country.
>> www.math.utah.edu/~eyre/rsbfaq/huts.html: Relatively complete list of ski huts throughout the world, including Canada and the U.S.
Hut trips require gear, which means sales. After helping your customers decide where to go, make sure they have everything they need for their excursion. Necessities include skis, touring bindings, skins and poles, daypacks/backpacks, as well as avalanche safety gear such as beacons, probes, shovels and airbags. Additional accessories to bring include sunscreen, gloves, hats, goggles, backpacks, sleeping bags, headlamps, water bottles/hydration systems, base layers, outer layers and games to pass the evening.
Did we miss your favorite hut trip or resource? Tell us in the comment section below, or on our Facebook page.