Fifth Grade winter expedition

First group: Monday-Wednesday, March 2-4
Second group: Wednesday-Friday, March 4-6

WHERE: Vance's Cabin, a backcountry hut operated by the Tenth Mountain Trail Association. The group will cross-country ski approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead at Ski Cooper.

WHAT: Students will learn basic telemark skiing, snow science, and winter outdoor skills. This is the second in the series of winter hut trips for Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh Grades.

The school has skis, boots, poles, climbing skins and backpacks to outfit the entire class. If you have a good backpack you prefer to use, please bring it in to be checked before the trip. The Fifth Grade will be practicing with their equipment several times. There is a formal pack check before the trip. 

Each group will depart the trailhead to ski in to the cabin, which is tucked into the forest near a rolling meadow. After orienting ourselves to the hut and covering some basic backcountry skills (melting snow for drinking water, chopping firewood), we prepare dinner and settle in for the evening. At least one evening we will go out for a night ski, and during the day we go for a ski tour nearby to learn about snow science, practice our telemark turns, and enjoy lunch outside. We all work together to prepare dinners and breakfasts. On the final morning, we wake up early to pack up before heading back to the trailhead.

Outdoor Education is an integral part of our school curriculum, and all students are expected to participate. Students may not remain on campus while their class or assigned group is on an Outdoor Ed trip. 

The TMTA hut system requires a separate waiver for this trip. Click here to sign it online BY JANUARY 15.

  • leave campus: 8:15 am
  • leave Basalt Town Park: 8:35 am
  • leave Cowen Center in Carbondale at 8:50 am
  • Cowen Center at 1:05 pm WEDNESDAY / at 2:05 pm FRIDAY
  • Basalt Town Park at 1:20 pm WEDNESDAY / at 2:20 pm FRIDAY
  • campus by 2 pm WEDNESDAY / at 3 pm FRIDAY


  • Students should bring TWO LUNCHES and their own SNACKS FOR THREE DAYS. The school will provide all other meals. Ideas for snacks: G.O.R.P., salami, cheese, packets of nuts, dried fruit, etc. NO CANDY allowed on the trip.
  • All students should bring two full water bottles, preferably the Nalgene bottles with a screw-on lid rather than bicycle water bottles or Camelbacks, which can freeze. One bottle will be consumed and left on the bus, and each child will leave the trailhead with a full bottle. Please remind your child to begin hydrating the night before the trip.
  • Backpacks need to be big enough to carry all personal gear and should have a waist belt that fits and rests on top of the hips. If you own a good pack and would prefer to use it, please bring it in to be checked.
  • Packs must be kept light by strictly adhering to the equipment list. It is important at this age for students to pack themselves with a minimum of parental help.
  • The group will not be traveling in any avalanche terrain, and we will be traveling together in one group.
  • The secret to staying warm in the backcountry is to stay dry. Cotton kills!
  • Avoid any cotton clothing. Lightweight wind shell and snow pants are a must.
  • Elastic at the bottom of snowpant legs is also critical to keep snow out of the boots. Make sure your pant cuffs are sufficient to keep out the snow.
  • Blisters on the first day are always a problem. The leaders will be carrying blister kits as well as complete First-Aid Kits. An old trick to prevent blisters: try putting duct tape on the heel before leaving home on the first day.
  • Wear 2 pair of warm socks – one thin and one thick. Buckle boots tightly.
  • As the first day is a gentle uphill climb carrying a full pack, students should dress lightly -- and in layers --  to avoid overheating. You can keep a warm later on the top of your pack for quick access if needed. 
  • The electronic Tenth Mountain Division Hut Assn. waiver must be signed by parents electronically on the website. Click here to sign the waiver for this trip.
  • Parents: If your child has any food allergies, medical conditions we should be aware of, or any specific food requirements, please contact Collette Newell, Outdoor Education Program Director, at
  • NO ELECTRONICS, please, except a headlamp or flashlight: this means no cell phones, no iPods or iPads, games, etc. NO sunglasses or glasses with video capabilities, NO smart watches. Only regular or Rx sunglasses and regular watches. "Radio silence" and a chance to unplug are important aspects of the Outdoor Ed experience. Photos from the trips will be posted shortly after return for parents and children to share.

Winter hut trip packing list

□ Skis, poles and boots (provided by school)
□ Helmet (required)
Trip backpack (your own of the correct size, or one provided by school)
□ Day pack (lightweight and compressible)
□ Sleeping bag: warm, lightweight, compact
NEW - for FOURTH GRADE only: sleeping pad

Click here for a helpful article about dressing in layers for winter touring
□ Ski jacket, ski pants
□ Warm pants for inside the hut
□ Sweater or zip fleece
□ Shirt (no cotton)
□ Warm socks/extra pair (no cotton)
□ Long underwear (top and bottom, no cotton)
□ Warm hat, neck gaiter
□ 1 pair warm ski mittens or gloves (in case 1 gets wet)
□ Brimmed cap to wear during uphill ski tours
□ Hand-warming or toe-warming packets (optional)
□ Glove liners (optional)

□ Booties (light weight hut shoes)
□ Toothbrush & toothpaste
□ Headlamp or flashlight (small + light)
□ Sunglasses
□ Goggles
□ 2 Water bottles (full) – wide mouth
□ Sunscreen
□ Lip protection with SPF 

□ Snacks for 3 days
□ Lunch for 1 day (Fourth) or 2 days (Fifth)

Aspen Country Day School
85 Country Day Way Aspen, Colorado 81611
Phone: 970.925.1909
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