Never Summer Yurts: Nokhu Hut

Naturally, one trip to this beautiful neck of the woods wasn’t enough; we had to go back for round two!

For our second venture into the Never Summer Yurt system, we chose the Nokhu Hut. Yes, it’s a hut but it was so quaint and cozy that it reminded me of a yurt anyway!

The Nokhu Hutย has the shortest and easiest skin I’ve ever encountered in the backcountry: a whopping 1.5 miles! We knew that we could easily get into the hut, so we didn’t stress about our arrival time at the trailhead. As a result, we booted up and stepped into our skis just as the sun dropped behind the mountains. Fortunately, the moon shone brightly so the four of us only needed one headlamp to light the path to the hut.

It’s kind of trippy skinning in the darkness. I was still huffing and puffing, per usual, but I couldn’t clearly see where I was going so I had no perspective on how much ground I had covered. I could faintly see the glimmering snow ahead of me, indicating an uphill slope, but I didn’t have enough visual clarity to confirm how hard I should be working. In short, I just put my head down and trekked into the hut.

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Photo Credit: Will Rochfort

 

After an hour, we crossed the single avalanche chute that is located 0.1 miles before the hut. Then, we saw a brightly lit bulb shining through the trees: Nokhu Hut! We gratefully dropped our packs, stripped our skins from our skis, and settled into our home for the weekend.

Y’all, when I say this cabin is quaint, I absolutely mean it! It is significantly smaller than any cabin in the 10th Mountain Division and I would estimate that it was maybe 350 sq. feet. But, it had all of the essentials for a comfortable weekend: two bunk beds {each with a double bed on the bottom}, a table, a wood burning stove, and a kitchen area. Truthfully, we all fell in love with our little home in the woods and declared it our new favorite at 10,000 feet!

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Something was clearly funny!

 

Colorado is known for treacherous avalanche conditions and this weekend was no different. As a result, Saturday morning started sluggish as we debated our options. Did we want to spend the day skiing over to a former ski area, located around the backside of the range? Or did we want to tour up by the lake and look for some fun lines in that area? Which slopes looked the safest? Thankfully, we had a topo map of the area that identified the grade of the surrounding slopes. The four of us–Will, Ryan, Maren and myself–agreed to play it safe and stick to low-grade hills. We decided to explore the area close to home. After breakfast, we grabbed our daypacks, strapped on our skis and headed up towards Lake Agnes.

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Climbing for days

 

Lake Agnes is located a mile away from the hut around treeline. I’m not sure if we missed the trail or of it was just snow-covered, but we ended up taking a circuitous route. After trekking over steep, bulbous mounds of snow–some so steep that I fell over backwards while trying to climb!–we found the lake.

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Lake Agnes

 

The wind whipped across the ice, making it difficult to determine where the frozen water ended and land began. We skirted what we though was the perimeter, taking in the towering peaks around us. There was no one else in the area and due to the blustery winds, I had my hood cinched on my head. As a result, I could only hear my own breathing amidst the gales and it was actually peaceful.

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Maybe that’s the line between frozen ice and dry ground?

 

We circled the lake and headed into the glades on the east side. After skiing through the trees for a bit, we spotted some open lines on the slopes in front of us: ski day!

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Ryan, scouting through the trees….right before he snapped his pole!

 

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And then there’s me….looking like I belong in ski school

 

Truthfully, the snow was variable and it was pretty darn tricky! I don’t ever fall when skiing–mainly because I’m too old and that nonsense hurts, not because I’m skilled!–and I took a digger while splashing through the powder with Maren. She was leading the way and I dropped into a pillow only to find that the tips of my skis weren’t budging! I somersaulted, landing smack on my head, and laughing my face off. Fortunately, it was a powdery fall and I had my helmet on, so the only damage was to my ego….

….until I woke up Sunday morning to a wicked ache in my neck! See what I’m saying about being old?!

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Ryan, crushing it

 

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Maren, looking fierce with one pole!

 

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Me, looking like I’m skiing on the bunny hill

 

After the first run, Maren and I decided to head back down to the hut while the boys headed up the peak to tour some more. Ryan had {somehow} managed to snap one of his ski poles in half, so Maren was skiing with a single pole. As for me, did I mention that I’m old? I was tired! We spent a solid six hours touring and skiing and I wanted a glass of wine!

But seriously.

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Clearly, Ryan made his second run worth it!

 

The rest of Saturday night was spent chatting by the fire, drinking whiskey, and inhaling all of the food that we carted in on our Pulk sled. Again, we awoke late on Sunday, but no one was stressed. The skin out was only 1.5 miles and guess what? It was almost ALL downhill!

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Clicking in before we skied out on Sunday. Until next time, Nokhu!

 

If you’re looking for a fantastic beginner backcountry experience, the Nokhu Hut is it. Technically speaking, the hut sleeps 6-7 people, but we were perfectly comfortable with four. For those that are less experienced in the backcountry, tackling the trek to the hut alone would be a great place to start. In fact, these comfy-cozy backcountry shelters are making me wonder how often I’m going to sleep in a tent this winter!

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24 Comments

  • Reply Debbie @ Live from La Quinta January 27, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    First of all, stop with the “old” stuff. Take it from someone who knows, you are not old.

    The only word I can think of for your pictures is magnificent, not a word I use very often. It is so beautiful up there! I would probably freeze to death, but I really enjoy reading about your adventures. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply heather January 28, 2015 at 7:14 am

      Hahah thanks Debbie ๐Ÿ™‚ It is beautiful up that way and I’m glad Will can take photos that show that!

  • Reply misszippy January 28, 2015 at 5:37 am

    You are such a badass! Love the photos–incredibly beautiful! And plus one to what Debbie says on old–trust us, you are not!

    • Reply heather January 28, 2015 at 7:17 am

      Thanks Amanda! And, fair enough– although I’m turning 33 in a few weeks and I do notice that things–like that minor fall– last a bit longer than they used to!

  • Reply Angela @ Happy Fit Mama January 28, 2015 at 6:04 am

    im like you – old and cautious now! When I do fall – ouch! It hurts for days. But the scenery makes up for it, right?

    • Reply heather January 28, 2015 at 7:17 am

      It definitely does. That’s why I just plan for NO falls!

  • Reply Jill January 28, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Hey! Long time reader but never commenter. I’m stuck in a land without backcountry skiing at the moment but I’m from the Canadian Rockies so I’m envious! Do you have an email address where I could send you a private message? I have a couple suggestions for you!

  • Reply Maureen January 28, 2015 at 6:31 am

    How gorgeous! I had to scroll through all the pictures again after reading. You ARE a badass! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply heather January 28, 2015 at 7:18 am

      I don’t know if I would say that, but I appreciate the sentiment ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Julie @ Girl on the Move January 28, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Oh my goodness, how gorgeous! What a fabulous way to spend a weekend!

    • Reply heather January 28, 2015 at 11:49 am

      It’s not too shabby! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Natalie Ford January 28, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Beautiful pictures! Although I’ve been a skier and backpacker for years, I’ve never combined the two, and I’m thinking I need to change this ASAP. I would love to get into some backcountry skiing. It looks so badass!

    • Reply heather January 28, 2015 at 11:50 am

      It’s a lot of fun– it’s a great way to combine two passions. It does take a lot more effort and preparation (not to mention it’s more dangerous), but it’s worth it.

  • Reply Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem January 28, 2015 at 9:41 am

    That looks so fun! and what great exercise while seeing some beautiful country!

    • Reply heather January 28, 2015 at 11:50 am

      It’s the best kind– any day outside is a good day!

  • Reply Amy @ Mama Running for God January 28, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    GORGEOUS!!!! WOW!! Your photos are amazing!! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. I’m jealous!

  • Reply Kovas - Midwest Multisport Life January 28, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Flat out amazing – love that there are those remote huts and yurts to make staying out there a bit more comfortable.

  • Reply Gear Friday: Good To-Go Backpacking Food - Just a Colorado GalJust a Colorado Gal March 13, 2015 at 4:04 am

    […] Risotto. I was sent the parcel of goodness back in December, which was perfect timing for our Nokhu Hut adventure. Instead of packing in my good ol’ standby foods, I trekked the Good To-Go bags up […]

  • Reply 2016 Travel Resolution - Chasing My Sunshine January 4, 2016 at 5:40 am

    […] March | My โ€œSpring Breakโ€ is the first week of March this year and Iโ€™ll be heading off to DENVER! Iโ€™ll be going with a friend from the program that hails from this magical land and I am SO looking forward to it. Iโ€™ve already tried to convince her to go snowshoeing and maybe stay in a yurt. She can thank Heather for that idea. […]

  • Reply Michelle April 6, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    I’ve been thinking about going to one of these huts for a while now. Is there enough terrain to stay for 5 or 6 days, or would a weekend knock out most of the accessible terrain?

    • Reply heather April 6, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      It really depends on which one you go to but I’d suggest a weekend at first to get a feel for the area. Quick tip: check out the 7 Utes Ski Area that’s close to Nokhu. It was a proposed ski area that never happened but the backcountry is AMAZING!

      • Reply Michelle April 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

        Cool, I’ll check that out! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Backcountry Skiing for BeginnersJust a Colorado Gal May 16, 2016 at 5:01 am

    […] written about many of our backcountry skiing adventures. {For some of my favorites, read about Nokhu Hut, skiing Quandary Peak, visiting the Lower Montgomery Yurts, or traipsing to an abandoned Geneva […]

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