This past winter the brand new Ophir Pass Ultimate Ski Hut (OPUS) opened its doors in the San Juan Mountains near Silverton, Colorado. This self-sufficient, off the grid lodge offers easy access to some of the most challenging terrain the San Juans have to offer. In the midst of a snow-starved winter, the Rocky Mountain Underground team traveled to the OPUS Hut to take advantage of one of the season’s best snowpacks.
The RMU team didn’t tackle the terrain alone. They hired the San Juan Mountain Guides to help them navigate the snow-laden steeps accessed from the OPUS Hut. Why get a guide service? “The local knowledge is important.” Says RMU Owner Timothy Haley. “The rest of Colorado’s snowpack is totally different than the San Juans.”
Hiring the San Juan Mountain Guides means more than help mitigating the risks of a tricky snowpack (In the video below, the guides called the slide at 7:50 and pointed out an exit route before Mike Rosenberg even thought about dropping in) according to Haley. “This was a great way to come down and relax, they even picked out the food—we ate gourmet the whole time”
When it came time to ski, the guides also catered to each individual athlete on RMU’s team. “Our guys from Montana, Jackson Hole, and Canada are experienced backcountry skiers,” states Haley, “ This was Maks Gorham’s first time skinning for every turn.” That didn’t stop Gorham and the guides from having fun though. “One of the best parts for me was when [guide] Mark Allen and Maks were discussing grabs and tricks and you get to see both of them doing their thing,” says Haley. “If anything, it made the trip more fun.”
SJMG also guides trips throughout the San Juans and has access to more forgiving terrain. “We have a lot of different products across the board for people who have never skied in the backcountry to people who are longtime backcountry skiers.” Says SJMG owner/guide Nate Disser. “Our goal as a guide service is to give people a great experience. Not only one that is enjoyable and informative, but also one that goes to appropriate terrain. Luckily we have a lot of different terrain and access that let us serve different purposes.”
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