The luck of the Irish failed me yet again this St. Patrick’s Day, as my girl and I set out for a one-night trip to a backcountry hut on Boreas Pass.
We’d booked the hut months ago, and had looked forward to the six-plus mile hike to it in the wintry wilderness outside Breckenridge ever since. We packed our bag with fajita fixings and Nutella, Walt Whitman and Jack London. Our destination, Ken’s Cabin, is the smallest hut in the 10th Mountain and Summit Hut network, ideal for two people. It’s a one-room log structure, built in 1860 and restored in 1992, listed on the National Register of Historic Places — an ideal getaway for couples whose idea of romance involves trudging to a wind-whipped 11,500-foot elevation pass for a night.
When we got to the trailhead on St. Patrick’s Day afternoon, though, I realized the binding on my left snowshoe had broken. I’d hastily pulled it out of the jam-packed back seat of my Jeep as we gassed up in Glenwood Springs, and somehow cracked its plastic heel on Natalie’s alpine touring binding.
I put on the crippled snowshoes — a 20-year-old hand-me-down from my brother — and stomped around the gravel trailhead to test them. The broken heel on the left one wouldn’t hold my foot, and my heart sank.
“I don’t think I can go with these,” I pouted.
Homegirl was determined, though. She went MacGyver — producing a knife and a spool of rope, cutting a length of it and tying my foot onto the broken binding.
We gave that a try, and it worked temporarily. But we weren’t 100 yards down the trail before my binding was cracking more and my foot was coming loose again. I had visions of me struggling through waist-deep snow above treeline on one foot as darkness fell — all hubris and frostbite, like a doomed character in a London story.
So we gave up. But not for long. We hustled back to the trailhead, drove into Breck, found a ski rental shop and I picked up a pair of Atlas 1030 snowshoes.
Those things saved the day and our trip to Ken’s Cabin. Grateful, I kissed ‘em like the Blarney Stone.
The 1030s are light, stable and have Atlas’ patented “Wrapp Swift” rubber bindings for a dependable, comfortable fit. These bindings are idiot (read: Andrew) proof and easy to cinch. The webbing around the footholds is spring-loaded, too, which helped me keep a natural stride on hard-pack snow and deep powder, uphill and down.
Our detour to replace my snowshoes pushed back our departure time about an hour and we were setting out close to 3:30 p.m. So we were a more than a little nervous about getting to the hut before dark. But I had no reason to worry about my equipment anymore.
As it turned out, we made good time. By dark we were nestled in the cabin, feeding kindling into its wood-burning stove and prepping our fajitas. We were relieved we didn’t have to bail on the big hut trip, and thanked the Atlas 1030s for saving us from my snowshoe snafu.
Get Your Own:
Atlas 1030 Snowshoes
The similar 1025s are on sale at
Ute Mountaineer for $159.99