Submitted By: LSteele on October 23, 2012
Views: 1037 page views
10th Mountain Division Hut Association
|Dates Open:||Thanksgiving through April, 30|
|Trailhead Elevation:||8380' ft.|
|Hut Elevation:||10360' ft.|
|Elevation Gain:||1980' ft.|
|Total Distance:||5.7 miles mi.|
Cristo is a fairly wide snow gully, and is not particularly technical to ski. That said, it is steep enough to demand advanced ski abilities.
Cristo is rated D8 or D9 depending on snow conditions. For information on the D rating system, see here: http://www.wildsnow.com/articles/ratings/ski-board-d-rating-system.html
In good snow conditions, Cristo can be skied right off the summit. Depending on snowpack, there may or may not be a few rocky patches to navigate. The gully has a few rollovers, the steepest reaching 40-45 degrees. The slope has a double fall-line, and is generally a bit mellower if you stay towards the skier's right side. While not a true no-fall zone, the double fall-line nature also means that a sliding fall in the couloir could be dangerous.
Cristo Couloir is a very large avalanche path and has claimed it's share of victims. As such, this route is recommended as a spring descent in times of good stability only. Also, whether you're driving or skinning up Blue Lakes Road, be aware that several major avalanche paths threaten the road near the dam.[more]
One of the original 10th mountain system huts, McNamara is a cozy well laid out floorplan that sleeps up to 16 people. The hut rests at 10360ft just below the summit of Bald Knob (11110'). The area around the hut offers great low to mid angle skiing and fantastic views of the Maroon Bells from the summit of Bald Knob. The trail into the hut is well marked, and follows a steady grade, making it a very enjoyable 2000' climb over about 6 miles.
The hut has a great open floorplan with a kitchen, dining room, and common room all connected on the bottom floor. Several propane burners in the kitchen along with a woodburning cookstove/oven give you plenty of cooking options. McNamara's is stocked with plenty of pots and pans, dinnerware, and coffee pots so no need to bring the french press. With a bunkroom on the bottom floor that sleeps 4, and a 10 bed common sleep area upstairs along with a private room that sleeps 2, McNamara's comfotably sleeps up to 16 people.
One of the nicest features at the hut is the outhouse built into the back of the hut, off of the wood/storage area. Which means no trudging through snow to take care of your morning business. The most enjoyable place to hangout at McNamara's is the front porch. Set at ground level and surrounded by trees to block the wind, this porch makes for the perfect apres ski setting.
Directions to Trailhead
To reach the Hunter Creek Trailhead, start in the town of Aspen. Follow Main Street in Aspen to Mill Street (the stoplight near the center of town, next to the Hotel Jerome). Turn N on Mill and drive a short distance down a hill, then across a bridge over the Roaring Fork River (.25 miles). Bear left after the bridge and follow the Red Mountain Road 1.0 miles to its second switchback. Just before the switchback, turn right and downhill on the Hunter Creek Road. Drive approximately .3 miles on Hunter Creek Road, then take a hard left on an unpaved driveway that leads up past a water tank 300 feet to a parking area. The actual trailhead is farther up the mountain, but this is the only parking.
You have several choices for foot travel to the actual trailhead. The simplest method is to walk back down the driveway to the Hunter Creek Road, turn left through two stone gate posts marked "Private," and follow the paved Hunter Creek Road 1/3 mile around a hairpin switchback to the well-signed Hunter Creek Trailhead on the right side of the road. Your other choice for foot travel is to follow a foot trail that traverses up the mountain from the parking area to the trailhead.