Trip Report: Polar Star, 10th Mountain Division Hut

Polar Star Inn
Polar Star Inn ~ 10th Mountain Division Huts

Polar Star sits just below timberline at 11,040′ on the west side of New York Mountain, in the Northern Sawatch Range. The old mining town of Fulford sits below New York Mountain in the Nolan Creek drainage.

Polar Star is a privately owned hut and part of the 10th Mountain Division Hut system. It has many of the same amenities and characteristics as the rest of the 10th Mountain huts. Some notable differences are; a running water tap outside so that you do not have to melt snow for water, and the entire hut (lighting & gas range) uses propane. Carl’s Cabin (another 10th Mountain hut) is just a few hundred yards away. The hut faces west over the Colorado Plateau: a sunset watcher’s paradise. There are five private bedrooms and a central upstairs communal sleeping area for a total capacity of 17.

Polar Star has superb tree skiing right in the vicinity of the hut, and vast bowls and gullies in and above treeline on New York Mountain. The area offers both advanced and intermediate skiing and riding literally right outside the hut. The slopes above Polar Star Mine offer some amazing powder stashes.

The normal route into the Polar Star follows the Fulford Road in from Yeoman Park. You can also take the Newcomer Spring Trail to the hut as well (mentioned below). Both routes are marked with occasional blue blazes. A third alternative route is from West Lake Creek, but this route passes through wilderness and is not marked. This, along with the fact that this route is seldom traveled, can make for very difficult route finding and is not a trail we recommend for inexperienced or first time hut-users.

The trailhead access from Yeoman Park is the same for Peter Estin Hut, Carl’s Cabin, and Polar Star. The route below (yellow) is the Newcomer Spring route from Yeoman Park to Polar Star. Both the Fulford road route, and Newcomer Spring route to Polar Star are avalanche safe areas. There are areas above Polar Star you may need to be more vigilant in certain snow conditions — see ‘avalanche precautions’ below.



Detailed route information – Newcomer Spring to Polar Star Inn

Snow Margaritas
Snow Margaritas

Snow margaritas are probably a sure way to please Ullr and guarantee you’ll find some epic powder in the trees — if not, they will sure taste good. Recipe is simple, 3-2-1 ratio of tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Follow this with salt and a lime wedge, and place in to a glass of freshly packed snow.

If you go, I would highly suggest the alpine terrain above treeline on New York Mountain. From Polar Star, climb SE to timberline, then choose a route that intersects New York Mountain’s north ridge. Follow the ridge to the summit. You’ll want climbing skins for this route, and you’ll probably end up walking up wind-scoured areas. Possible downhill skiing varies with snow cover. In general, try the west face (open areas drop down into the trees) or the upper part of White Quail Gulch. There are some great bowls just to the west of the ridge coming from New York Mountain that gradually take you to the adjacent areas above Polar Star Mine.

New York Mountain
New York Mountain


Avalanche Precautions

Advisable to be vigilant of the avalanche conditions once you break timberline. Visibility can deteriorate rapidly and snow conditions can make riding / skiing all but impossible. There is steep avalanche terrain on the east side of the north and south summit ridges, as well as slide potential in upper White Quail Gulch. Also, given a load of extremely unstable snow, any of the slopes on New York Mountain could avalanche. Beware of cornices on all ridges.

New York Mountain – highly suggested! The route (red) from Polar Star to New York Mountain.

Route to New York Mountain ridge from Polar Star
Route to New York Mountain ridge from Polar Star




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