Named for Fred Braun, the German-born namesake of the Braun Hut system, Opa’s Taylor Hut is a fitting legacy for this hard-bitten, old mountaineer. Opa is a nickname for “grandpa,” by which Fred was known. Braun not only founded the hut system, he ran it with an iron fist. Attesting to his humanity, however, Braun also founded Aspen Mountain Rescue and answered many calls for mountain emergencies through Aspen’s early backcountry ski days.
Artfully built in the style of a fashionable mountain home, Opa’s is a showcase for functional beauty. The views from the decks and windows make Aspen real estate brochures pale by comparison. Opa’s can be difficult to find, perched as it is on a nondescript promontory. But once found, it’s hard to leave no matter how good the skiing. And there is plenty of good skiing right out the door.
Opa’s access is most popular from Ashcroft, up Express Creek and over Little Italian Pass. From the hut, one may ski to the Goodwin-Greene to the east and the Friends’ Hut to the west. But caution must applied because there are terrain perils and route-finding challenges in both directions. And when the weather closes in with whiteout conditions, it’s best to stay put, stoke the stove, and heat up a pot of tea.
Layout and capacity: All Braun huts have propane burners for cooking, photovoltaic lighting, mattresses and pillows, eating and cooking utensils, toilet paper, matches, and cleaning supplies. Hut users melt snow for water. The hut sleeps 8 and has 3 private rooms, each of which sleep 2 people, and 2 day beds out in the common area. NO DOGS!
Hut Location: Opa's Hut is located just south of Taylor Pass at 11,850ft, approximately 7 miles southeast of Ashcroft. [locator map]
Snowmobiles: Snowmobiles are not allowed near the Braun Huts. Since 1963 the Braun Huts have been operated as a backcountry ski hut system. Many of the routes to the huts pass through avalanche prone terrain, loose unpacked snow, steep sidehills, and areas restricted to snowmobiles. More information about snowmobiles is available HERE and on the "Winter Trails & Info" tab below. PLEASE DO NOT RELY ON A SNOWMOBILE TO GET YOURSELF OR YOUR EQUIPMENT TO A HUT.
Warning: The Alfred A. Braun Huts and Friends Hut are located in areas of known avalanche terrain with recurring avalanche cycles. Routes are not marked or maintained. The route into Opa's Hut in particular presents serious route finding and terrain challenges and should only be attempted by experienced backcountry travelers.
The Opa's Taylor Hut can be accessed via Express Creek and is also equidistant from the Goodwin Greene, Lindley and Friends huts. Routes are not marked or maintained. The route into Opa's Hut in particular presents serious route finding and terrain challenges and should only be attempted by experienced backcountry travelers.
The Alfred Braun Hut System was designed to be a back-country SKI system. As such the Alfred Braun Hut System strongly discourages the use of snowmobiles for access to the huts. The hut system was created for non-motorized travel. As such, snowmobile use can often detract from this unique experience. Our huts are located on U.S. Forest Service land, and each hut has unique travel management restrictions as governed by Forest Service Travel Management Plans. Around the immediate environs of each Alfred Braun Hut is a USFS developed recreation site envelope with snowmobile restrictions. Access to and from each hut is managed within the Developed Recreation Site Boundary. Snowmobiles should not drive to the front door of any hut. There are no snowmobile play areas within the Developed Recreation Site boundaries. Snowmobiles are not allowed in Wilderness Areas, or on private land without permission. In the winter of 2010-2011, the fines for snowmobiling in the Wilderness Areas were $550 per snowmobile. You must know where you are if you expect to remain legal and safe. PLEASE DO NOT RELY ON A SNOWMOBILE TO GET YOURSELF OR YOUR EQUIPMENT TO A HUT.
Snowmobile Restrictions: Express Creek Road is crossed by numerous active avalanche paths from Ashcroft Mountain, often resulting in steep, hard side hills which make snowmobile travel extremely tenuous. Consequently, the area is not a popular snowmobile destination or route. The Opa's Taylor hut is surrounded by a developed hut site boundary envelope which extends approximately a quarter mile from the hut. [boundary map]
Winter Route Description
A note on Braun and Friends Route Descriptions: These descriptions are overviews and general in nature and intended for trip planning purposes. They generally describe the frequently used routes from the trailhead and not such routes between the huts, which may or may not overlap these routes. These descriptions are no replacement for the use of proper mountain navigation tools and skills, such as maps, GPS devices, compasses and the like. Navigation in poor weath-er or darkness has added challenges. These frequently used routes have been devel-oped over the years by users. Given the mountainous terrain and severe avalanche hazard, all such routes are subject to objective hazards that cannot be avoided. The route selections to access the huts are generally limited by terrain. There can be user choices within such routes that may reduce but not eliminate such hazards.
Most Frequent Route Description: