10th Mountain Climate Project

Imagine this: you arrive at your favorite hut—maybe it’s the Peter Estin, or the Eiseman, or the Skinner Hut—to ski one of your favorite lines or spend a relaxing weekend in nature among the trees, only to find that that’s not possible. There’s not enough snow. Or a winter rainstorm, high winds, or extreme avalanche danger has you shut inside. Or the surrounding woods have been charred by recent forest fires. Or the hut itself has burned to the ground. These eventualities are becoming imminent realities.

Climate change is our greatest planetary threat, affecting all species and ecosystems. We’re at a critical junction, and the actions we take in the next decade will affect everything. For the 10th Mountain Hut Division Hut Association, our greatest threats are decreased snowpack, increased fire danger, severe weather, and vast landscape changes. “The Rockies are warming faster than the rest of the country,” says Auden Schendler, climate activist, author, and Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company. “In Colorado’s high country, we’re seeing massive pine beetle infestation because we don’t have these cold snaps in the winter that kill beetles. On snow, you’re seeing longer shoulder seasons and runoff that happens earlier and all at once.”

At 10th Mountain, we’re doing everything we can to help reverse climate change. That begins with leading by example. We’re getting our own house in order, improving the way we do business, and, overall, trying to do the right thing.

“The 10th Mountain huts provide a unique and valuable experience—one that requires a natural mountain environment to fully enjoy,” says Ben Dodge, 10th Mountain Division Hut Association Executive Director. “If we do not take action to stop the effects of climate changes, some of which we're already experiencing, the hut experience that we know and love might cease to exist. We decided to activate around climate change when it became evident that there was greater need for change and engagement. This is the time for all-hands-on deck.”

Stories

To broaden its perspective and reach, 10th Mountain is gathering stories from influential hut visitors and climate activists like Auden, Christy Mahon and others who understand what the long-term effects of climate change look like. We will share these stories (and regular reports on 10th Mountain’s carbon footprint reduction efforts) via website, social media and direct emails. We hope this communication will inform hut users and the public of our climate project and perhaps inspire action.

  • The first in our series of stories is an interview with Christy Mahon. -- Aspen local Christy Mahon is a woman of many talents. She’s a board member of 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, the Development Director of Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, a ski mountaineer, ultramarathoner, and mentor to Elsie Weiss, one of the youngest women to ski a 14er. Mahon was nominated for the Sportswomen of Colorado award and National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year award for, along with her husband Ted Mahon and professional skier Chris Davenport, skiing the 100 tallest mountains in Colorado. She’s also the first woman to climb and ski all of Colorado’s 14ers.Read the rest of Christy's interview...

Carbon Reduction

10th Mountain has partnered with CLEER, a Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit consulting company, to improve the energy-efficiency of hut and administrative operations. CLEER has conducted a thorough inventory of 10th Mountain’s greenhouse gas emissions, completed onsite inspections and assessments of 10th Mountain’s Aspen office, employee housing, and Base of Operations in Leadville, and delivered a very useful report that will guide 10th Mountain’s actions to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. For more information you can read the entire report here, Cleer Report

Forest Health

Sylvan Fire, summer 2021, 3 miles distant from Estin and Gates Hut, burned total of 3,792 acres

It’s not our first time addressing the threats of climate change. In 2005, we developed our wildland fire mitigation plan to increase our preparedness in the event of fire to protect life and our huts. That work continues to this day. In 2010, 10th Mountain contracted a comprehensive forest management plan that taught us the composition, age and condition of the forest around the huts and identified ways to make that forest more resilient against insects, drought, and wildland fire. Now, in response to more extreme wildland fire behavior, we’re re-assessing how best to reduce fuels around the huts, further modifying the huts to reduce ignitability, and other measures to protect life and defend the huts.

Call to Action

One of the simplest— and most important—things we can do is ramp up the conversation. Even though more than 7 in 10 Americans believe climate change is happening, and 6 in 10 are worried about it, two-thirds of Americans rarely, if ever, talk about climate change with the people they care about. Where better to have this conversation than at a 10th Mountain hut, surrounded by friends and wilderness? The more people hear conversations about climate change, the more socially validated these conversations become. We hope our hut community uses its voice for climate action. We want hut users to tell our policy makers that they care about climate change and want to see them enact laws and policies that address greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts. Together, we can make an impact on climate change.