4 Tips for Avoiding Disaster on a Yurt Trip


Winter has finally arrived. Even though it’s January. Now’s the time to fantasize about packing too much gear, hauling your crap out in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in a yurt, and waking up early to skin for fresh powder. Before you book, read this tips and preserve your sanity.

1. Go North. Go High. Or, Go North and High.

Guide Spencer Jonas checks out the terrain near Bell Lake Yurt in Montana’s Tobacco Root range.

With every hut trip, you’re booking dates in advance. Therefore, you’re rolling the dice that you’ll get good conditions and a stable snowpack. Rarely do you get both at all elevations.

During the research and reservation process, the best you can do is choose a location with reliable snowfall. I’ve had great luck with higher altitude hut trips in Colorado and, more recently, going north to Montana. Snow is on the ground most of the winter, meaning there will be less of a chance of getting skunked.

2. Manage Your Expectations About the Terrain.

Who says low-angle terrain doesn’t have fun powder skiing? Mary Gootjes drops into gladed terrain on a storm day.

Before you pack the car and go, know that you are most likely not going to be able to ride every line you’ve put on your tick list. The snowpack might not be stable. The visibility might be nil. The conditions might be icy. The group might not be on the same page. There are so many variables.

Seriously, chill out. Be okay with riding low-angle, non-sketchy terrain during your trip. If you get to drop into something huge, that’s a bonus.

3. Accept Your Weirdness and Your Group’s.

That was a stupid place to rest my splitboard. Sorry, Rossignol.

All your idiosyncrasies come out in closed quarters in the middle of nowhere. People smell. People fart. People complain. People drink the last of the half-and-half during their morning coffee.

Judgement and defensiveness are very human responses to this behavior. Unfortunately, they’re also the enemy of friendship building. Hut trips are about the bonds you form with your group. You and your touring partners really open up, giving you a great opportunity to forge sincere, lasting friendships.

4. Pack Less Crap.

A bed and a few hooks. That’s all the storage. With that little space, my only indulgence is a GoalZero.

Abide by the hut system’s checklist. For real. Unless you are an ultralight packer, you are probably going to try to overpack. Don’t. Everything will get hung up and dried in the hut.

Unless you’re going to the Arctic, you don’t need an incredibly complex layering system. Base layers, mid layers, outerwear–that’s it. And unless you’re traversing glaciers, you probably don’t need exotic mountaineering equipment either.

Bring the lightest splitboard setup you feel comfortable with, and don’t use the trip as an opportunity to dial in something new. If you want to go crazy with packing extra stuff, add a few pairs of socks and include toiletries that promote good hygiene.

I do recommend packing Verts and split ski crampons. I seem to always neglect either or both, and regret it every time.