Dec 2023 Sangree's to Emmelyn Hut, with detailed route description; P1

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Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:25 am

Dec 2023 Sangree's to Emmelyn Hut, with detailed route description; P1

Post by wjblazek »

This is a report for a December 10-13, 2023 trip from
the standard Buckeye Gulch TH on Co Hwy 91 to
Sangree M. Froelicher Hut for 1 night then on to
Emmelyn Hut for 2 nights and back to Buckeye Gulch TH in 1 day.
The main purpose of this report is to describe the route between
Sangree's and Emmelyn in some detail. With additional trip info.

We ended up with a strong group of 7 friends for this trip.
We orginally had 10 friends but 3 had to drop off for various reasons.
One was a rookie to the huts but still very strong.
The rest were veterans of previous hut trips.
All are now veterans of a significant hut-to-hut trip requiring
complex backcountry navigation and snowshoeing.

In Sept, 2 of us scouted the whole route as a day hike, ~12-14 mi.,
from Buckeye Gulch TH to Sangress's to Emmelyn and back to Buckeye.
We found the route to Sangree's well marked with
classic 10th Mtn blue diamonds and several signs.

However, apparently because Emmelyn is one of the newest huts in the 10th Mtn system,
the route from Sangree's to Emmelyn is not marked at all in any way.
There is a GPX track available on the 10th Mtn site on the Emmelyn page.
We were able to follow this GPX track from Sangree, over the 11,900' saddle,
back down through the woods right to Emmelyn.
In September with no snow, this route was fairly straight forward.
There is a jeep road from Sangree's up to the saddle that can be followed in summer.
In winter this jeep road is typically totally covered and not visible at all.

Sun 12/10
5 of us met in Denver before 10 AM and headed to the TH.
It took us ~3.5 hours from the TH to get to Sangree's, just before 4 PM.
2 others, who were not able to leave the TH till ~5 PM in the dark,
were at the hut just after 7 PM, just over 2 hours.
We enjoyed a nice evening at the hut resting and eating.

Since there were only 7 of us and we had 10 spaces booked, and
Sangree's sleeps 16, we had pleny of room since
the other 6 spaces had not been booked.

Sangree's is a classic 10th Mtn hut design and floorplan, up and down,
with ~100' walk to the outhouse out back.
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:25 am

Re: Dec 2023 Sangree's to Emmelyn Hut, with detailed route description; P2

Post by wjblazek »

Mon 12/11
Since it's only ~2.5 mi, ~300' gain, ~700' loss to Emmelyn,
we planned a late start, 11 AM, from Sangree's.
We headed up the jeep road above and behind, North, of Sangree's.
The road quickly leaves the trees, hits the open tundra and
promptly disappears under the snow.
Breaking trail, we made a bee-line for the 11,900' saddle.
From the saddle, we were intending to skirt just below the 12,000' knob,
on the West side of the saddle, to the North.
However, we found deep snow heading to the north of the knob but
thinner snow on a gentler slope heading up to the knob so
we went up to the north side of the top of the knob.
This is also the route of the GPX track.

From there we could see the broad, wide ridge heading Northwest down toward Emmelyn.
This "ridge" is very board and wide and mostly forested so it is hard
to follow the actual top of the ridge.
We could also see a small meadow at the upper end of the ridge with
a well broken trail heading in the direction of Emmelyn.
From our scouting trip in Sept., we knew we needed to get to that meadow and track.
We began looking for a way down from the knob to that meadow.
However the North side of the knob is fairly steep and
a big talas field for a short distance down to the trees.
The early season snow barely covered this talas field making decending this
area difficult and clumsy. Later in the season there may be enough snow
to descend this area easier but also potentially adding some avy risk.

Following close to the GPX track, we slowly made our way down
the NW side of the knob and into the trees and down to the meadow.
At the meadow we found a beautiful track heading NW down the ridge that took us to
a yurt just above Emmelyn and then right down to the hut.
Did the owner(s) of Emmelyn, which is privately owned, and the yurt,
intentionally break this track for anyone coming from Sangree's?
We'll never know.

We were at Emmelyn in ~2.5 hours from Sangree's,
even with all our time constantly watching the track,
going over the knob, finding a way down the talas field and
through some fairly dense timber to the meadow.
The broken track from the meadow to the hut was certainly a huge help too.
Despite only taking ~2.5 hours, we were still pretty tired from all the
trail breaking and route-finding and thrilled to be at a beautiful new hut.
Last edited by wjblazek on Fri Dec 22, 2023 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:25 am

Re: Dec 2023 Sangree's to Emmelyn Hut, with detailed route description; P3

Post by wjblazek »

Emmelyn is one of the newest huts in the 10th Mtn system and
a state-of-the-art hut with beautiful architechure, high ceilings and
big windows with fantastic views to the West and Southwest of
the Sawatch range from Mt. Holy Cross to the North, all the way down South of Mt. Elbert.
The big SW facing windows, upstairs and downstairs,
help keep the hut warm, along with the wood burning stove.
And they give great views of the sunset over the Sawatch!

The kitchen has plenty of counter space with a sink and propane stove.
One of the best features is the indoor, composting toilet that is virually ordor-free!
You don't even need to put in sawdust after using it!
There are also USB-A and USB-C jacks in the main level bedroom and
upstairs by the sink. How modern!

There is a modern hand-pump to pump water from the cistern that does not need priming.
However, instructions say to melt snow for water in the winter and
use the cistern water in the summer.
So we mostly melted snow for water and only used a little cistern water.

When we arrived, ~2:30 PM, the hut was still warm from the previous party.
However, there was no water or snow in any of the buckets or the big snow melting pot,
leading us to suspect they mostly used cistern water.

There is also a big beautiful south facing deck, with table and chairs,
that would be great in summer but also made it easy to get to nice clean snow.

Bunk space wise, there are 5 double-bed sized mattresses,
1.5 single mattresses wide, for 2 people each.
1 is on the main level in it's own room and 4 upstairs.
Upstairs, 1 double bed is in it's own room and 3 are in a common area,
2 of which are a double bed, bunk bed.
There is also a single bunk in it's own separate little nook.
So the hut could sleep 11 people but it is only booked for a maximum of 10.
The double bed size mattresses are best for couples.
It would be a bit tight and cozy for 10 single people in this hut.
There are also bench seats with mattresses around the stove area where
3 people max could potentially sleep end to end.
With only seven people, 2 couples and 3 singles, we had plenty of room.

The one thing Emmelyn does need are Scrabble game and Chess games! :-)
All in all, it's a great new addition to the 10th Mtn hut system.
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:25 am

Re: Dec 2023 Sangree's to Emmelyn Hut, with detailed route description; P4

Post by wjblazek »

Tues, 12/12
Rest and more scouting day.
We slept in and decided to go back up and scout a better route
around the North side of the 12,000' knob.
We headed back up the broken trail to the meadow where we joined it yesterday.
From there we headed more directly uphill and bearing a little more to the East.
Eventually we worked our way up, avoiding areas of deadfall,
to the edge of the trees below the 12000' knob and
ran into our own track from yesterday where we had come off the North side of the knob.
From there we continued to traverse, almost due East, below the knob,
along the edge of the trees until we could see the saddle on East side of the knob with
our tracks from yesterday. This track was much better than our descent from the knob yesterday,
being more direct and having less elevation gain.

There was a short section of this route that also crossed an short open area that was
close to being steep enough to potentially have some avy risk under the right snow conditions but
was less steep than the direct North side of the knob.
We correctly judged this slope to be a minimal risk and made it across and back with no problems.

We now had a well tracked route that was much more direct route and
with less elevation gain back to the saddle from the meadow.

Weds 12/13.
We were up early and gone by 8 AM because we wanted plenty of time to get
back to the Buckeye gulch TH. Some in our group were afraid it would take 7-8 hours.
With our new track from yesterday,
it ended up taking us only 4.5 hours and we were back to the cars by 12:30 pm.
The scouting and trail breaking we did yesterday, creating a better route to the saddle,
really paid off and was the biggest reason for our faster time coming back.

Once we were back to the 11,900' saddle,
we did find and follow some of our tracks from 2 days prior,
for a short ways, but most of our track back to the trees near Sangree's hut
was totally blown over and invisible. So we were breaking trail once again.
But visibility was ok, so following the terrain with fairly easy.

Once back at Sangree's, the route was well tracked again with a new party already there.
Last edited by wjblazek on Fri Dec 22, 2023 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:25 am

Re: Dec 2023 Sangree's to Emmelyn Hut, with detailed route description; P5

Post by wjblazek »

Sangree's - Emmelyn Winter route analysis
As described above, presumably due to the newness of Emmelyn,
there is no physical trail or path between these huts, only a GPX track.
That track goes over the top of the 12,000' knob, between them.
IMHO, a better route, especially for winter travel,
could be to go to the 11,900' saddle and
head West, slightly North, dropping slightly into the trees just enough to be out of avy danger.
Then traverse West to the ridge and meadow where we found the track heading to the yurt and hut.
However, this route is not tracked or defined at all as far as I know and
would probably require significant clearing of some trees and
probably lots of brush and deadfall to create a well defined route.
Detailed scouting of this area would be needed to define the best route.

The distance between the huts, ~2.5 mi., is a bit deceiving.
A strong group with good snow conditions and weather with a tracked trail could easily
make it from one hut to another, either direction, in 2 hours or less.
The same group in deep fresh untracked snow with a serious winter storm blowing
could easily take far longer and have a major challenge to making it at all.
Anyone considering this route needs to carefully consider the specific conditions that
exist on the day they are traveling and have excellent winter backcountry travel skills.

The section of this hut-hut route between Sangree's,
over the 11,900' saddle and back into the trees
on the North side of the 12,000' knob,
is totally exposed to the weather.
Ski/snowshoe tracks are often quickly covered by blowing snow so they do not last very long.
Visibility in bad weather could easily be reduced to nothing across the saddle.
Deep snow is probably very common here.
Despite the short distance, consider this route carefully!

Still the Sangree's - Emmelyn route is excellent,
giving people a great sense of doing a real hut-to-hut route
with serious backcountry travel and navigation.
Given the short distance between these huts,
this hut-hut route is bound to be popular.
So I think it would be wise, for 10th Mtn and the owner(s) of Emmelyn,
to define an optimal route between them.

Be safe in the backcountry!
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