Next Weekend

National Geographic Adventure

Next Weekend

January 2010

by Robert Earle Howells

[Next Weekend was a monthly department I wrote for National Geographic Adventure for many years. In each issue I wrote 16 descriptions of adventurous getaway weekends in North America. The columns are archived at]

Hike-To Huts

If you like your backcountry skiing high, powdery, and slightly cushy, cozy up in a classic hut in the San Juan Mountains with Natural Fitness Guided Adventures. Ridgway Hut is at 10,200 feet on the slopes of Reconnoiter Peak, with glades and steep tree runs right outside, not to mention views of nearby Mt. Sneffels, the imposing north face of Cirque Peak, and Blaine Basin. The trip begins with a six-mile skin up, but translate that like this: You end with six-mile ski down. In between you can attack long chutes and 1,500-foot couloirs or do some mellow powder skiing. Crux outing for those up to it is a presunrise alpine ascent of Reconnoiter (12,900 feet), followed by a ski back down for breakfast. Guides do all the cooking, with an emphasis on organic and healthy. Think of it as cat skiing without the cat, heli skiing without the heli. Or expense ($850 for three days, two nights;

Kiting Goes Up

Snowkiting has soared beyond its birthplace on frozen Midwest lakes to a mountain playground and some heady new sensations, like skiing up thousand-foot slopes. “It’s the best in the country for sheer terrain,” says Snowkite Soldier’s Andrew Goldman of the 20-by-15-mile Camas Prairie, where he runs clinics and takes experienced kiters on hundred-mile jaunts into the backcountry, with snowmobile assistance. Skiing uphill? “Yep,” he says. “It’s like having a chairlift in your backpack.” Snowkite Soldier’s intro clinics ($90) commence in mid to late December, and four-day adventure camps that combine lessons and exploring are on for January 14–17, February 25–28, and March 2–5 (from $850 per person, including lodging at Soldier Mountain;

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