Overview: A ski trip out to the Ostrander Hut in Yosemite National Park is a exciting winter adventure in the middle of the Sierra Nevada... more »
A ski trip out to the Ostrander Hut in Yosemite National Park is a exciting winter adventure in the middle of the Sierra Nevada... more » mountains. The hut sits on the edge of Ostrander Lake - frozen solid in winter - underneath North-facing Horse Ridge which has a fantastic bowl for powder skiing just a few hundred yards from the hut. In addition, there are several touring options from the hut for all skiing abilities and lengths, many of which carry a reward of far stretching views of the Yosemite High Peaks and the back side of Half Dome.
There are 3 main routes to the hut: Horizon Ridge, Bridelveil Creek, and Merced Crest. The Horizon Ridge is the most commonly skied, with great views and the least amount of ungroomed skiing (important if you are breaking trail). The first half of the ski is on the groomed Glacier Point Road, then the trail turns uphill to Horizon Ridge. Bridelveil Creek is a bit longer but gains less elevation, and Merced Crest is shorter, but is overall most challenging route to the hut. less «
A GPS track and guide is NO substitute for skiing ability, avalanche safety knowledge, winter travel experience, map and compass... more » navigational ability, and common sense! I am not responsible for you if you should follow my track and hurt or kill yourself! Check the weather forecast and avalanche forecast before you go (although neither is a guarantee of safe conditions!)
Reservations are required to stay overnight in Ostrander Ski Hut, although often last second spots are available. Reservations can be obtained by lottery held in mid-November, or by calling the Yosemite Conservancy and claiming any (post-lottery) available spots.
Wilderness Permits (free) are required. Check in at the A-frame ranger station at Badger Pass ski area to register and pick up your permit.
Winter Travel: You MUST be prepared to spend the night outside the hut should you encounter difficult conditions, start late, get lost, or find yourself injured. This is wilderness - it may be days before anyone comes looking for you! Bring a shelter, pad, and stove in case you don't make it!
Avalanche Hazard is low on the approach to the hut, IF you stay on the marked trail. If you leave the marked trail or go on a day ski from the hut, you very well may end up in hazardous terrain. Bring beacon, shovel, probe, and know how to assess avalanche hazard if you plan on skiing in or near steeper terrain.
The hut is equipped with mattress, a stove, pots/pans/utensils, and a woodstove. Bring a sleeping bag, food, and water treatment for use inside the hut. For a complete list of recommended equipment, visit the Ostrander Hut homepage less «
The trail is well-marked with orange and yellow trail signs, and in some cases with old license plates.
The last 1.5 miles, at the base of Heartbreak Hill, is also marked with reflective markers. A powerful headlamp will help as you can usually shine your light from one marker to the next if you are skiing at night, but a LED probably does not... More have enough range.Less
Horizon Ridge affords views of the Clark Range, the backside of Half Dome and Mt. Starr King, and can range out to the Sawtooth range and the northern boundary of Yosemite Park (Tower Peak).
Horse Ridge, near the hut, is also visible and sometimes tracks can be seen in the bowl.
Sometimes the ridge is windy, evidence of which can be seen in... More the shape of the trees.Less
Horizon Ridge is exposed and experiences high winds, usually from the west. Windblown trees attest to the powerful winds.
After the 350 foot descent from Horizon Ridge, there is a saddle and a junction with the Bridalveil trail. Don't celebrate too much, you still have a 600 ft climb back up Heartbreak Hill.
Right hand turn on a "switchback", but you still have climbing to do.
Traverse around the base of the hill, then turn left and go up. Going down, you can ski downhill and rightish and still reconnect to the trail (but be careful!)
Top of Hearbreak Hill - you earned it after that 600' climb from the saddle! Skins off and go 100' downhill to the hut!
Buena Vista Peak is a good, longish day tour from the Ostrander Hut. Most likely, you'll choice this tour in fast, icy conditions when the bowl is not that fun, and when avalanche hazard is low.
Traverse around Horse Ridge by Hart Lakes, then over Horse Ridge skiing south/southeast. There are several way to ascend and descend. You may find the... More crest rocky and windblown and make end up hiking part of it.Less
The Bridalveil Creek Trail is a common alternate route to or from Ostrander Hut. The ski trail departs 1/2 mile earlier on Glacier point road and has a prominent sign marking the entrance, and rejoins Horizon Ridge at the saddle for the final climb up Heartbreak Hill.