1. Do your research. Know what terrain you’ll encounter and what gear you’ll need. Be familiar with it before the trip. This isn’t the time to break in new boots or test out a pack.
2. Make a reservation—especially on weekends. Book an entire hut or single spots, but expect to share your space and provisions.
3. Route-finding is paramount. A topo map, a compass, and the ability to use them are essential. If your group lacks navigational skills, hire a guide.
4. Brush up your avy skills. You should have some level of avalanche education. A formal course is a good place to start. Also, monitor weather and snow conditions via local avalanche forecasts and online forums the week or two before you set out.
5. “It always takes longer to get to the hut than you think,” says Ben Dodge, executive director of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association. Pack a headlamp just in case.