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The High Life

By Ann Driggers

In the realm of Colorado hut tripping, our weekend at the new Opa's Taylor hut had just about everything one can hope for - travel through stunning scenery, bluebird weather, excellent company, delicious food and a well built and beautiful new hut with spectacular views. Completed in the fall of 2012, we lucked out when reservations opened in November and scored two nights for the eight of us. Situated at 11,800 feet Opa's is the highest hut in the Tenth Mountain/Braun hut system. The altitude doesn't necessarily make for sweet slumber but in every other aspect we certainly experienced the high life. Here's how:

A 7.5 mile skin through a stunning high alpine valley with ragged rock walls towering 1,000 feet above us:

Enjoying watching the baguette mule aka the Doctor of Intoxicology as he crests Little Italian Pass, and wondering what gourment food and beverage delights are stuffed into the deep recesses of his pack:

Arriving at the hut and stoked to find it to be the nicest one we have ever visited - think beautiful wood floors and walls, well designed and efficient use of space, three private bedrooms, snowflake flannel sheets, an oven, an espresso maker, blow your socks off views - up close Taylor and Star Peaks and further away the Sawatch Range and Taylor Park, and an 'outhouse' with the same views through its floor to ceiling windows. And celebrated said arrival with Aviations (thanks Dr!!) and smoked salmon and fixings for starters.

After a long night of partying and fitful sleep, watching sunrise, especially at this elevation and with these views just never gets old:

Despite the sub par snow conditions still enjoying turns:

The comraderie of our gaggle of girlfriends, their hutslippers and leis:

Viewing local wildlife off the deck:

A high alpine tour for lunch: 

Which was followed by 1,000 feet of turns on sastrugi and therein was the cause of our abandoning any aspirations of finding good snow and returning to the hut early in the afternoon in favor of drinking Brandy Alexanders:

And some yoga:

And then deciding we should in fact be skiing when on a hut trip and heading out for a few happy hour laps with Cognac and Blackberry Brandy:

And returning to find the purpose of the baguettes - fondue!! and the Dr's pack had also harbored an entire fondue set! which we didn't leave at the hut so you will have to bring your own. This was accompanied by  Old Fashioneds made with bacon-infused bourbon (thanks Rob!):

And finally, watching the sunset over the Sawatch Range and remembering a friend whose life was cut short in an avalanche less than a week before. His spirit lives here in these mountains:

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