Betty Bear Hut Via Road 505 - 10th Mountain Division Huts
Road 505 Trailhead?Betty Bear Hut via Road 505
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAPS: Betty Bear Hut (see above), Granite
TIME: 6 1/2 hours up, 5 hours down
DISTANCE: 6 3/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,020 feet; loss: 40 feet
This 10th Mountain suggested route is the standard trail to Betty Bear Hut from the Fryingpan drainage. The bulk of the route uses snow-covered Road 505. This road is used by both skiers and snowmobilers, but it is wide enough for everyone.
Park at the Road 505 Trailhead on the Fryingpan Road. Ski Road 505 as it gradually climbs SE along the side of the Fryingpan drainage for 3 1/2 miles to the road high point at the obvious concrete structure of the Granite Adit (9,990 feet). Enjoy the superb view of Mount Massive looming on the northeast side of the upper drainage. Continue on level road (with a few slight ups and downs) another mile to cross over Lily Pad Creek. This creek is inconspicuous as it has little flow and passes under the road through a culvert. The stub of the culvert is visible if you look over the downhill side of the road. Another good way to identify Lily Pad Creek is by paying attention to the two rock "gates" you pass through on Road 505. These "gates" are places where road-blasting left remnants of rock outcrops on the downhill side of the road. Lily Pad Creek is located about 100 feet past the second rock "gate."
Ski the road past Lily Pad Creek for several hundred feet. At this point the trail to Betty Bear Hut leaves the road and climbs NE up the side of the valley. With a lack of natural landmarks and your altimeter of little use because of the level road, this intersection of road and trail is a place where the blue diamond trail markers (and possibly GPS use) are essential.
Using climbing skins, climb the marked trail as it makes several switchbacks up the valleyside, then parallels and gradually nears Lily Pad Creek. After the steep switchbacks, the marked trail leaves the Lily Pad Creek drainage by heading E up through timber and clearings to enter a larger open area at about 11,090 feet. Swing S here, enter the trees at the far southwest end of this open area, then continue SW for 1/8 mile through timber to Betty Bear Hut (11,100 feet). The hut sits at the edge of timber overlooking a southwest-facing clearing. If you miss the trail keep your eye on your altimeter and GPS. It is essential to not drop too low. (By no means try to make it down to the road from below the hut as the terrain is quite steep and rough.)
Also note that skiers frequently take more direct lines to the hut from the upper portion of the trail. If you see such tracks and have your GPS working correctly, these can be quite nice as optional and less time consuming routes. Otherwise stick to the marked trail.
REVERSE ROUTE: From the back door of Betty Bear Hut ski N on a blue diamond trail several hundred yards up through timber to a fork and high-point. Here, the trail down to Road 505 heads left. Take the left, and follow the marked trail N across an open area, then left (W) as it gradually converges with Lily Pad creek. A series of scary switchbacks drops you on Road 505, which you then ski NW to the trailhead. With good snow conditions, expert skiers will find good skiing by exploring glades on the way down the upper part of this route. Such skiers can also avoid the switchbacks by skiing down the Lily Pad Creek gulch. This latter option requires a thick snowpack and skill.
SAFETY NOTES: With unusually unstable snow a few "bank sluff" avalanches could fall to Road 505. The first of these banks is just past the Granite Adit, with another at 4.7 miles from the trailhead, and another at 5.3 miles. Skirt these banks as far to the opposite side of the road as possible, and pass below them one person at a time.