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April 19, 2016 2 min read

Basking in backcountry beauty at Opa’s Hut.

Words and Images By: Ian Fohrman

Starry sky over Opa's hut

Doing your business in the backcountry can be serious business. Often times, on mountaineering missions, pre-dawn alpine starts mean that your instant coffee might not do its work until the shelter of the forest is long behind you. Stage fright might not be a problem with only marmots and dirtbags around, however howling winds and freezing temps have never been conducive or comforting for “dropping trou”. Even if your morning drop-off mission stays below treeline, there’s a litany of challenges and potential disasters to distract you from the glory of your surroundings; not so at Opa’s Taylor Hut.


Skier's pointing out window at Opa's hut

The Opa Hut, Colorado’s newest backcountry toilet (and accompanying hut), offers the most majestic mountain-money spot I’ve ever experienced. The Opa Hut is located at the base of Taylor Peak (latitude 39.000454 longitude 106.749496). With a spectacular East facing view of the Collegiate Peaks it’s the perfect spot for your morning pre-ski routine. Enjoy unencumbered views and watch the golden light crest the distant ridgelines from a comfortable throne. (Late season visitors beware the storied pyramid).


The approach to the toilet is relatively straightforward. Park at the Ashcroft trailhead up Castle Creek Road and start skinning up Express Creek Road. After around 3.2 miles, and just shy of 11,000’ elevation, cross the creek and head south into Little Italian Basin. Skin up through the basin for about 1.5 miles with the M&M chutes (fun skiing) to your right. As you crest the round ridge of Little Italian at 12,184’ you’re at the highest point of the day and only about a mile and a half from relief. The route to the hut from here is more convoluted and slightly confusing than it seems like it should be. You don’t want to be wandering around prairie dogging in marmot country so it’s worth plotting on a GPS and a topo if you haven’t been there before.


Topo map with route to Opa's hut

When you’re not enjoying the views from the throne, the rest of the Opa Hut is beautiful as well. The comfortably spacious but cozy living room looks out huge South facing windows and the view from the kitchen sink is the East face of Taylor Peak. It is one of the most scenic huts in the 10th Mountain Hut system with some of the best ski access.


Sunset at Opa's hut

Sunset from the throne at Opa's hut