|Sierra Club huts provide fun for skiers
At elevations between 7,400 and 8,400 feet, the Sierra Clubs backcountry
huts in the Donner Summit/Lake Tahoe area provide access to some of the best untracked
skiing and snowshoeing in the central Sierra. Each hut offers rustic sleeping
accommodations for about fifteen people. Visitors must backpack their own food,
sleeping bags and pads, utensils, candles and personal equipment from the nearest
road, which can be up to 7 miles away.
Peter Grubb Hut is the oldest and most popular of the huts. Nestled on the west
side of Round Valley about 3 miles north of I-80, the hut provides overnight shelter
for 600-800 people each winter. It is also a popular lunch stop for day trippers
starting from the Donner Summit Sno-Park.
The hut was built during the summers of 1938-39 as a memorial by family and friends
of Peter Grubb, a young Sierra Club member who succumbed to heat stroke while
on a bicycle tour. Huts are maintained by work parties of volunteers, and Peter
Grubb is in the midst of a rehabilitation which has already brought it new wood
stoves and a new kitchen. The foundation for a new outhouse was poured in late
September, and the building itself will be constructed next summer.
Bradley Hut was built in Five Lakes Basin, between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows,
during the summer of 1957. Intended as a memorial to the wife of a Sierra Club
president, it fell within the boundaries of the Granite Chief Wilderness, designated
by Congress in 1984. The hut was disassembled in 1997; large beams and other salvageable
materials were removed from the original site and used in construction of a new
Bradley Hut in upper Pole Creek about 4 miles away. The new hut has become the
second most popular in the system.
Benson Hut lies on the Sierra Crest about 3 miles southeast of the Sugar Bowl
ski area. On clear days, the view west toward the Sacramento Valley and east toward
Truckee and Reno are incomparable. The route from Donner Summit is very exposed,
and huge cornices form on the east side of the ridge. Benson can be the first
stop on a three-day trip, which also includes the new Bradley Hut and an exit
via Pole Creek to Hwy 89 about 2 miles north of the Squaw Valley turnoff.
Ludlow Hut is the most remote of the four. Located at Richardson Lake on the northern
edge of Desolation Wilderness, it sits in more rolling terrain and is 7 miles
from the nearest plowed road. Sugar Pine Point State Park provides overnight parking;
users can follow General Creek and compass bearings to the hut.
To prevent overcrowding, the huts are operated on a reservation basis. Each request
should be accompanied by a deposit of $10/person/night. For more information,
such as availability, contact the Clubs Clair Tappaan Lodge (530-426-3632).
A fifth cabin, known simply as the Warming Hut, is a few hundred yards behind
Clair Tappaan and is available for practice backcountry trips.