One of the more challenging huts to access in the Elk Range, the Friends’ Hut is tucked into the edge of old growth forest beneath the south face of stunning Star Peak on the Crested Butte side of 12,700-foot Pearl Pass. This remote timberline hut is a long slog from either of the two trailheads, one at Ashcroft, south of Aspen, the other at Brush Creek, southeast of Crested Butte.
The Friends’ Hut is named for ten victims of a head-on collision of two small planes over East Maroon Pass in 1980 that shocked the citizens of Crested Butte and Aspen. Their deaths reached deeply into both communities and inspired this lasting tribute in the form of the Friends Hut, a remote, high mountain refuge linking the two towns in a spirit of friendship and common love for the mountains.
The hut was designed by two local architects and built in 1984 by scores of committed friends who volunteered endless hours and funds. Skiing to the hut entails a rigorous adventure of route-finding and avalanche preparedness. The Grand Traverse backcountry ski race passes by the hut in the springtime.
Layout and capacity:Friends Hut is a one story structure with a sleeping loft. A small room with double bed is the only private sleeping. Amenities: wood stove heat, firewood, propane burners for cooking, photovoltaic lighting, cookware, dishes, mattresses, pillows, and toilet paper. Hut users melt snow for water. Friends' Hut sleeps 8 and is booked to capacity. There is no minimum booking number. If you do not reserve all eight spaces, other groups may be booked in with you. NO DOGS!
Hut Location: Friends Hut is a remote backcountry shelter located high in the Elk Mountains. The hut site is in a wooded area south of Pearl Pass at 11,370'. [locator map]
Warning: The Alfred A. Braun Huts and Friends Hut are located in areas of known avalanche terrain with recurring avalanche cycles. Routes are not marked or maintained.
Dates Open: Winter: Thanksgiving through the end of May
Owned By: Friends Hut Inc. Oven: No Sauna: No
The Friends Hut can be accessed from either Crested Butte on the south side of Pearl Pass or from Ashcroft on the north side of Pearl Pass. When skiing in from the north side you can ski all the way into Friends Hut from Ashcroft in a day but many people go first to the Tagert or Green Wilson hut for a night then over to Friends. Be aware that the last half of the route over Pearl Pass from the north offers only a few safe travel options due to avalanche terrain and during times of high avalanche danger the route may be impassable. Traveling from Ashcroft to Friends Hut in a day is best done during times of low avalacnhe danger and good weather.
Skiing in from Crested Butte via East Brush Creek is the most common route to Friends Hut from the south but is still approximately 10.5 miles and crosses numerous avalanche paths along the upper part of the route.
Winter Trail Access
Winter Route Description
A note on Braun and Friends Route Descriptions: These descriptions are overviews and general in nature and intended for trip planning purposes. They generally describe the frequently used routes from the trailhead and not such routes between the huts, which may or may not overlap these routes. These descriptions are no replacement for the use of proper mountain navigation tools and skills, such as maps, GPS devices, compasses and the like. Navigation in poor weath-er or darkness has added challenges. These frequently used routes have been devel-oped over the years by users. Given the mountainous terrain and severe avalanche hazard, all such routes are subject to objective hazards that cannot be avoided. The route selections to access the huts are generally limited by terrain. There can be user choices within such routes that may reduce but not eliminate such hazards.
Friends Hut from Crested Butte/East Brush Creek Route:
Friends Hut from Ashcroft: