Van Horn Park

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Total Zones


Beacon Guidebooks

Van Horn Park Overview

When we published the first edition of Light Tours in 2017, I had mixed feelings about the concept: a selection of low-angled, avalanche-safe routes. I wondered how it might be received. Considering what I saw in ski movies and social media, did everyone ski nothing but avalanche slopes? Not so. As it turned out, an increasing number of muscle-powered skiers have little interest in confronting high-consequence avalanche terrain, or for that matter the sheer faces of big mountains. Consequently, we present the second edition of this guidebook—again focusing on the mellow side of ski touring, which we define as routes with enough pitch for making turns, but generally of low enough angle to obviate most avalanche danger. It’s important to point out here, though, that just about any skiable slope can slide, given the right conditions. In other words, the routes we’ve detailed may reduce your exposure, but they do not eliminate it. Our second-edition improvements are many. We’ve doubled the number of routes and removed the resort uphills that proved difficult to detail because of closures or ever-shifting resort policies. Furthermore, we improved our formatting: it’s simpler—just the information you need. As for the proverbial “how to use this book,” a few tips for those of you new to the game: Find the perfect log, sit down, and eat a leisurely lunch; take your kids along; convince a partner to try something new; concentrate on the exercise and fresh air (not the adrenaline); be proud you’ve chosen a sustainable style of ski touring you can enjoy for decades.

Zones Covered

Van Horn Park
ATES Level
General Aspect
The town of Aspen is nestled in the heart of Colorado’s steep Elk Mountains. Hence, terrain with minimal avalanche danger is difficult to find. One solution is to head north of the town to an area of lower-elevation “foothill” mountains, where the original huts and trails of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association were established. Because “hutzers” use this route to access the 10th Mountain McNamara Hut, you may see quite a few other skiers, often with large packs brimming with adult beverages. When the hut skiers see your wine and cheese spread at Van Horn, they might stop and share. You never know.
  • Van Horn Park Approach
  • Van Horn Descent
  • Van Horn Park Exit