Newsletter: 12/21/2021- SUMMIT HUTS HOLIDAY NEWSLETTER
Wishes You Season’s Greetings!
Board Changes: Welcome SHA Vice President Ryan Burr
The Summit Huts Executive Board has elected Ryan Burr to the office of Vice President. Ryan has been a school teacher in Summit County for 21 years and brings his creativity, enthusiasm, sense of humor, and work ethic to bear on everything he participates in whether stacking wood at Section House, shaping young minds in the classroom, or guiding Bike and Beer tours. Ryan became a volunteer for SHA in 2015 and was elected to the Advisory Board in 2019. In 2020 he also became a hutmaster. As though all of that weren’t enough, he is the driving force behind planning educational school trips for fourth graders to the huts to foster the next generation of hut users. Few in the history of the organization have been involved in such a multi-faceted capacity and we are thrilled to have Ryan on Board. Get it? See what we did there?
Following a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, SHA held the Backcountry Ball on October 9 and it was a resounding success! We opted for a smaller more intimate number, made it a hybrid event with indoor and outdoor seating and a smaller silent auction to keep in line with Covid restrictions. This combination proved to be very popular with the attendees and the feedback was very positive.
Thanks to all our generous sponsors, those who contributed to our very popular silent auction, and everyone who attended the event. You played a pivotal part in our biggest annual fundraiser and your generosity is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your continued support and the support of this wonderful community. A big shout out too to our amazing volunteers. Your hard work and incredible attitude helped make this event such a great success in 2021.
Thank You, Volunteers!
With all the challenges we have all experienced over the past two years during COVID-19, it was wonderful to once again have the opportunity to work with our absolutely stellar group of volunteers to get the huts ready for the 2021/2022 winter season during this past fall. With the exception of wood stacking day at Francie’s Cabin, we had excellent weather for all of the volunteer events. Though lack of snow in the early season has been a challenge for everyone, thanks in no small part to this group of intrepid helpers we were able to get all the huts open on time. The huts are clean, well maintained, and all supplies are stocked. This exceptional group of people make hard work fun.
Summit Huts Association Membership/Lottery
Greetings to all our current members and thank you for your continued support, especially our lifetime members! Well, it is coming up to that time of year when we start to prepare for the upcoming 10th Mountain Hut Association Hut Reservations Lottery 2022/2023. This is the time to start planning for next year’s hut trips (where does the time go)! Purchase/ renew your Summit Huts Membership to ensure your ability to participate in the early booking system via the lottery. The deadline for the application submission for next year’s winter season lottery is February 15th, 2022. As the saying goes, “the early bird gathers the worm” so be ahead of the game! Click on the link to purchase/renew your Summit Huts Association Membership.
Hutmasters- What Are They?
Have you even been on a hut trip in the middle of winter, snow gently falling to cover the tracks you made earlier in the day, a warm fire blazing, a kettle for tea or hot chocolate almost ready on the stove, wondering whether you have the energy to take a sauna with your friends or family? Maybe you’ve asked yourself, “How is it possible for this improbable backcountry refuge to function throughout a six-month winter season?” The answer, my friends, is because of hutmasters. This season Summit Huts has twelve hutmasters who sign up for weekly shifts to go in Sundays, Mondays, or Tuesdays to restock supplies, shovel snow, check propane levels, fill the photovoltaic batteries with distilled water, and yes- maintain the toilets. They fix items that get accidentally broken like the panes of glass in the wood stove doors. They replace burned out lightbulbs and make sure the drains function properly. Hutmasters pack in supplies that run out mid-season like fuel canisters and pack out items that have broken, worn out, or been replaced. So if you are having a magical night at one of our huts with everything just how it should be, please take just a moment to silently thank a hutmaster.
Janet’s Cabin Plays Cupid
Then the year was 2020, but early so you know… before people sprayed each other in the face with disinfectant if they got within six feet of each other. By this time Ryan had become a hutmaster and was on his way into Janet’s Cabin to do a work shift. He brought his friend and more importantly, his ski partner, Alexi with him to do some runs but also to trick him into doing all the really unpleasant hutmaster tasks like maintenance on the composting toilet vault. Not falling for Ryan’s attempts at subterfuge, Alexi mingled with the hut guests. Among them was Frenchwoman Constance (pronounced “Kon STONSE”). I hesitate to call it love at first sight, but only for as long as it takes to write this one unnecessary sentence. It was love at first sight. Constance became Alexi’s girlfriend. But more importantly, she became his ski partner.
There is a conclusion to this Hollywood-esque story arc so satisfying that it is hard to believe it happened in real life rather than on the silver screen. On Saturday, November 27, 2021 at Janet’s Cabin, Ryan Burr officiated at the wedding of his friend, but more importantly, his ski partner, Alexi and Alexi’s fiancé, but more importantly, ski partner Constance’s wedding.
There is a baby on the way. Alexi and Constance don’t have names picked out yet, but if the little one is a girl, we’d like to suggest Janet as a possibility.
Happy Winter Solstice to All. Let it Snow!
Newsletter: 5/27/2021- LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
Dear Friends of Summit Huts Association,
We hope you are all seeing the light at the end of the tunnel following this challenging year and that we can once again return to some degree of normalcy. We at Summit Huts would like to update you on how this organization has weathered this pandemic, the current state of affairs, and our hopes and aspirations for the future.
Letter From Summit Huts Association President
Thank you to all our members and supporters for sticking with us this past pandemic period. Thank you for providing us with the support necessary to survive this weird and unexpected year. This next year we look forward to a transition back to normalcy. We are looking forward to a day when our hut users can interact with one another and enjoy the spirit of hut life once again.
This was not only a difficult year for business, but we have also experienced a personal loss of our close friend and Vice President of the Summit Huts Association board, David Jefferson. David and I have sailed, and hut tripped throughout the world together. His legacy endures through the wonderful memories we shared. His presence will be greatly missed.
This coming year we are working to go back to our usual hut capacity, opening back up our saunas, and transitioning back to our single-user reservation system. The most unique experience with hut life is the ability to interact with multiple hut users and establish a comradery with other patrons in the shared use of the huts. I, for one, am extremely excited to go back to something we took for granted, a normal hut life.
Our staff showed an immense strength of character in facing this unexpected year. Our new Executive Director, Josh Flenniken, has stepped up to meet all the challenges we have thrown at him. He is, of course, joined by our outstanding Managing Director, Karen McDonough-Yule. The two of them together have formed a remarkable team that we are extremely grateful to have leading us.
Thank you all for your continued support of the huts.
Board and Staff Changes
We have seen some changes to the SHA board and staff, the most significant of which is the loss of our beloved Vice President David Jefferson – more on his legacy below. This position has yet to be filled. We would like to welcome our newest Executive Board member Shauna Bocksch – Represtantive at Large. This winter we welcomed new Advisory Board members Kenny Thamert and James Letson in Hut Development, Shauna Farnell in Content and Andy Richmond in Legal Counsel. Chris Tennal in Hut Development will return from his 18-month stint as interim Executive Director to the Advisory Board.
As far as staff changes, prior to the pandemic, Chris Tennal stepped away from the Executive Board and took the role as interim Executive Director. In February 2020, Josh Flenniken was hired as our new Operations Director to eventually step into the Executive Director role once Chris’s term ended in February 2021. Thankfully, Chris has remained with SHA as an Advisory Board member.
Current Board Members and Staff
Executive Board of Directors
Rich Rowley President
Maggie Lifland Secretary
Michael Shambarger Treasurer
Shauna Bocksch Representative-at-Large
Advisory Board of Directors
Brandon Bailey Business Development/Marketing
Ryan Burr Educational Programs
Tim Casey Business Development, Donor Relations
Robbie Dickson Hut Development
Scott Downen Hut Development
Shauna Farnell Public Relations/Content
BJ Garcia Events
Linsey Joyce Events, Community Outreach
James Letson Hut Development
Brian Litz Outdoor Industry, Public Relations
Devon O’Neil Outdoor Industry, Public Relations
Kasey Provorse Business Development, Non-Profit Organizations
Andy Richmond Legal Counsel
Alison Rowley Events, Marketing and Social Media
Paul Semmer Hut Development, USFS Consultant
Chris Tennal Hut Development, Outdoor Industry
Kenny Thaemert Hut Development
Scott Toepfer CAIC/Hut Maintenance
Ron Uhle Community Outreach
John Warner Community Outreach
Josh Flenniken Executive Director
Karen McDonough-Yule Managing Director
Remembering David Jefferson
David “Alfie” Lanceford Jefferson, was born in Darien, Connecticut on April 19, 1951. He had already lived an adventurous life by the time he hitchhiked into Breckenridge in 1973 with a grand total of $0.73 to his name. He moved into a small mining cabin up Tiger Road and proceeded to establish himself as a carpenter, eventually specializing in custom home builds with his own construction company.
An active community member and participant in several local non-profits, David was a longstanding member of Summit Huts Association. His influence over the past thirty years established the huts among Colorado’s most coveted adventure destinations. Most recently, David served as SHA Board Vice President. His business sense, project management experience and construction knowledge helped shape Summit Huts into the dynamic organization it is today.
When he was diagnosed with cancer, David was given two years to live. That was twelve years ago. He did his last hut trip three weeks before he passed away at home surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Sharon, and daughters Lauren and Bailey. David will be sorely missed by us all.
Recap of this Tricky Season
Summit Huts Association, like most local non-profit organizations, was negatively impacted by the pandemic. We felt the repercussions economically and they still reverberate to this day.
The initial closure of the cabins for six weeks – effectively ending our 2019-2020 winter season – took a huge toll. We were fortunate to be able to open Janet’s and Francie’s Cabins for the 2020 summer season, albeit at a much-reduced capacity while dealing with the restrictions mandated by the county and state. Cabin reservations were changed to parties having to book the entire cabin only with a cap on the capacity at a lower rate. The cabin rate was constantly changing depending where we were on the Covid-19 dial. While we were lucky enough to be able to open the cabins for the winter, we had to do so with the same restrictions, capacity limits and lower rates.
The pandemic impacted SHA in other ways, too. All volunteer programs were cancelled with the hut cleaning days undertaken by the staff. Additionally, only staff and board members worked the tough but rewarding helicopter day at Janet’s Cabin.
The hutmasters took on the lion’s share of tasks with a lot more to be done in a shorter period since they did not use the Hut Masters Quarters overnight as guests were already occupying the cabins. They went above and beyond what their usual shifts entail to ensure the huts were clean and sanitized. Use of the Hut Masters Quarters and the saunas were not permitted. Sheets, pillows, and cushions were taken out and all mattresses were covered with a material that could be easily sanitized. The time between check-out and check-in was extended to allow more time for those leaving to sanitize the cabin. Signs were erected in all cabins outlining the Covid-19 rules and regulations.
Some Fun Shenanigans Witnessed by the Hutmasters…..
The life of a hutmaster isn’t easy. People think it is all fresh tracks in secret powder stashes, the solitude of a good book by a warm fire in a snug, private room, and being awash in the accolades of hut users, grateful for the hero who restocks the toilet paper and shovels the decks. Sometimes it is like that and sometimes it is like this:
Planning to do a day trip to Janet’s (due to Covid-19 occupancy restrictions) only to find the toilet vault drain line frozen and subsequently having to spend several hours in the crawl space with Coleman lanterns.
Finding there is a leak in a propane regulator, spending several hours ‘MacGuyvering’ a solution without quite the right parts with bare hands holding metal tools in the freezing cold, then skiing out in the dark during a snowstorm.
Escorting an unwelcome nocturnal visitor down the mountain in a live trap.
Another casualty of the pandemic was our annual fundraiser, the Backcountry Ball. This would have been the event’s 19th anniversary, but alas, had to be cancelled along with all gathering events in the county. To avoid competing for donations with front-line non-profit organizations in an already economically impacted community, we decided not to host a virtual fundraiser. We did partake in Colorado Gives Day, had a membership drive and a letter writing campaign. Although having to cancel the Backcountry Ball hurt our fundraising capability, we still received incredibly generous donations and an uptick in memberships, particularly Lifetime Memberships, which is wonderful. We would like to express our deep gratitude for your generous support.
Looking Ahead to the Future
With the onset of vaccinations and the drop in Covid-19 cases throughout the county and state, we can finally begin to look ahead to brighter days. We have some exciting plans, including the Francie’s Cabin Remodel:
Prior to the pandemic, Summit Huts was hoping to embark on a planned remodel of Francie’s Cabin. We intended to start the work last summer, but this was postponed due to the necessity to have the cabin available for the summer season so we could recuperate some much-needed income. This spring, are installing all new wood flooring upstairs in the hut to be completed before Francie’s opens for the summer season July 1st. Work will recommence spring 2022 and will continue throughout the summer. This will require the cabin to be closed for that entire summer season. We do have a Francie’s Cabin Remodel Fund for which we have received several generous donations. Our fundraising goal is $150,000 and we are halfway there. If you would like to donate to the Francie’s Cabin Remodel project you can do so here:
We are thrilled to announce that our volunteer programs will be resuming! Our volunteers are an integral part of this organization. We certainly missed you all during the pandemic and are ready to have you back in action. As we have done in the past we will be putting out notices for upcoming volunteer days, including overnight stays. For these cabin workdays, we will require that our volunteers be fully vaccinated. This is to ensure the health and safety of our staff, board members and volunteers. We also hope to recruit volunteers for yet-to-be announced events. We will be sure to keep you informed of all upcoming volunteer programs.
Opening Date – July 1 2021
Closing Date – Sept 30 2021
Opening Date – July 10 2021
Closing Date – Sept 6 2021
Opening Date – Nov 11 2021
Closing Date – May 7 2022
Opening Date – Nov 24 2021
Closing Date – April 30 2022
Opening Date – Nov 24 2021
Closing Date – May 7 2022
Section House and Ken’s Cabin
Opening Date – Nov 24 2021
Closing Date – April 30 2022
Volunteer Cleaning Days – TBD
Janet’s Cabin Helicopter Day – TBD
Backcountry Ball (decision pending) – TBD
As we end the winter season and look to the future, Summit Huts Association thanks you once again for your support navigating through one of the toughest journeys this organization has faced to date. Bring on the brighter days! Stay safe and healthy.
-With Gratitude from all of us at Summit Huts Association
Summit Huts Association Mission Statement– “Summit Huts Association provides a backcountry refuge for self-propelled mountain recreational users and provides a unique venue in spectacular natural settings for community, charitable and educational programs.”