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Winter Hut Route Map

Filed in Hut Trips by on September 30, 2015

Paragon Gudes Winter Hut Route Map

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Nordic Skiing


 Cross-country ski tour.

Indulge yourself in winters beauty on a cross country ski tour.  Join your private guide on a solo outing, or travel with family, friends, and colleagues. Perfect for beginning and experienced skiers, or anyone seeking a memorable winter escape.

  • 4-6 hours
  • Includes cross-country skis, boots, poles, gaiters, instruction, lunch, and transportation


  • 1 person  $325 per person
  • 2 people  $195 per person
  • 3 people  $165 per person
  • 4 or more $145 per person

Book your Cross-Country Ski Tour HERE!

What is the difference between alpine, cross-country, and backcountry skis? 

What is the difference between backcountry and cross-country skiing? As the attraction of the winter environment has grown so has the various methods of snow travel expanded. Cross-country skiing is steeped in tradition long before the advent of ski lifts and groomed slopes. The opportunity to blend exercise with the rhythmic “kick and glide” of cross-country skiing is attractive to those looking for a quiet experience away from the crowds and into the wonderful world of ski touring. Backcountry skiing although relatively new is an extension of traditional cross-country skiing. For those looking beyond meadows and gentle slopes for the chance to ski un-tracked powder, the new generation of AT and Telemark equipment offers touring in bigger terrain for those seeking powder turns. Trade-offs? Cross-country gear is lightweight and simple / Backcountry gear tends to be heavier, focusing as much on the downhill as the touring.


Benedict 100


Ski tour Aspen to Vail 

Expected return Winter of 2021!

Traverse the heart of Colorado’s central Rockies on skis from Aspen to Vail. This upcoming winter, Paragon Guides leads this six ­day, 100-mile backcountry tour that connects five 10th Mountain Division Huts. The tour honors 10th Mountain Division veteran and hut system founder, Fritz Benedict.

  • Ski from 11 to 18 miles each day.
  • Huts: Margy’s, Betty Bear, Uncle Bud’s, Jackal, and Shrine Mountain Inn.
  • Long days with cold temperatures, pre­-dawn starts, trail breaking, and variable snow conditions will demand a high level of fitness and skill.
  • Each hut is staffed with hosts who welcome you, keep the fire stoked and water plentiful, and prepare your dinner and breakfasts.
  • Backcountry ski touring experience on telemark or AT gear is required. We interview all participants to ensure their fitness and skills match the demands of this trip.
  • Cost: TBD
    • Includes guides, hut hosts, breakfasts, apres ski beer and wine, dinners (BYO lunches), sleeping bags at each hut, and hut fees.
  • Offered in partnership with the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association.

The completion of the interconnected hut system linking Aspen to Vail coincided with the return of the FIS World Alpine Championships to Vail in 1989.  Aspen was the first U.S. resort to host the championships in 1950.

Tour Historybenedict100-1

The inaugural Benedict 100 Tour allowed skiers commemorating the return of the world championships to travel from Aspen to Vail by way of the 10th Mountain Division Huts.
Ski legends, runners, and backcountry skiers relayed a special flag to honor the link between the 1950 and 1989 championships from the top of Aspen mountain, down through town, up the Hunter ­Frying Pan drainage, across the mountains to the Polar Star Inn, and finishing at the Beaver Creek resort. Since the inaugural tour, the route has been altered with the completion of additional huts on the eastern side of the hut system, allowing the tour to end in Vail Village.

Since 1989 the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association has run the Benedict 100 tour and now partners with Paragon Guides and Aspen Alpine Guides who organize and guide the tour on alternating years. Paragon Guides was proud to be a part of this legacy for the 2015 season.  For highlights, visit Paragon’s Facebook page and jump to January 2015 posts.

Click the link below for a detailed itinerary, trip information and reservation form.  Potential trip participants are phone interviewed by our Senior Guide Staff to ensure the appropriate choice of this trip.  Contact Paragon via phone or email to begin this process.

Bene 100 2019 Itinerary

Contact or call 970­-926-­5299 for more information.

The Benedict 100 map

Backcountry Ski FAQ

Filed in Hut Trips, Ski Day Tours, Winter Adventures by on September 15, 2015

backcountryfaqfeatBackcountry Ski FAQ

What is the difference between alpine, cross-country, and backcountry skis?
Alpine skis are great for lift-service ski areas because of their locked down heels, wide bases and metal edges. Little to no flat terrain is encountered with this equipment.   Cross-country skis are great for moving over flat to rolling terrain because the equipment is light and kick-and-glide or skating techniques make for efficient travel. Cross-country skis work best on groomed track or on low-angle trails. Ski bases can be waxed or come with textured ‘fish scales.’ Both offer forward glide with minimal backward slide.

Backcountry skis, whether telemark or alpine touring (AT), or randonee, are the best of both styles. They allow a skier to maneuver on flat, rolling or sloped (downhill and uphill) terrain thanks to metal edges and a free-heel climbing position.

Telemark skis have a cable binding with a fully free heel that makes for efficient climbing and a graceful ‘tele’ turn descent. Alpine touring skis have a binding that can be released to allow for for free hill climbing, but then locked down for alpine-style descents.

I’m new to backcountry skiing – is that OK?

If you’re new to backcountry skiing, going on a custom tour with a private guide is a great way to be introduced to the skills, equipment, and terrain that make up the backcountry experience. Your guide will offer tips on efficient backcountry travel – from setting an up-track to removing skins – and will select a tour that complements your skiing ability.

Shouldn’t I be worried about avalanches? 

Colorado’s snowpack is notoriously unstable at times and demands your full attention and respect. The potential for avalanches is always our number one safety concern. Big lines in steep terrain in mid-winter is not what we offer. We select conservative routes that are appropriate to the condition of the snowpack, time of year, and size of group. Our guides have a minimum Level II certification from the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). From December through March, Paragon Guides announces the daily avalanche report, issued from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, on KZYR 97.7 FM. We require that all participants wear a beacon and carry a shovel and probe. We provide this equipment on our custom tours and hut trips. Equipment is available for rental if you’re participating on a scheduled Paragon Ski Club tour.

What are climbing skins? 

Climbing skins are used on both Telemark and AT skis for uphill travel. Skins are simply a strip of bristled nylon or natural mohair that attaches to the base of the ski. The skin allows the ski to slide forward and grip so that you don’t slip backwards. They’re kind of magical! Once you’re ready to descend, you remove the skins, fold them, and stow them in your pack or jacket until you need them again.

What skis do I need for a backcountry tour? 

You have two choices: a backcountry ski with a telemark binding (and telemark boot), or a backcountry ski with an alpine touring (AT) binding (and AT boot). Telemark set-ups allow the skier’s heel to be free both climbing and descending. If you’re new to backcountry skiing, telemark skiing can be challenging to learn without first spending time at a resort. For this reason, alpine skiers who are new to the backcountry often prefer AT equipment, which allows for free-heel climbing and locked heel descending. Paragon Guides’ runs the Vail Valley’s only Dynafit Test Center, exclusively renting and retailing Dynafit AT boots, skis, and skins. Telemark packages are also available for rental at our Backcountry Center.


Call for more information or to reserve


Kurt Kincel

Filed in Paragon Guides Professionals by on September 15, 2015

Kurt Kincel

Kurt started his mountaineering career in the wooded hills of upstate New York. After a climbing trip through the Western states, the move to Colorado was inevitable. For more than a decade Colorado has been his “base camp” for further adventures both Kurt Kincel Paragon Guidesguiding and personal pursuits, ranging from Canada to South America. His training has included Level III Avalanche and AMGA(American Mtn. Guides Assoc.), Kurt has been an OEC (Outdoor Emergency Care) technician for 16 years. Locally, Kurt has been involved with the Vail Mountain Search & Rescue team since 1999, and has worked as an Avalanche Training instructor at the Colorado Mountain College since 2001.

While not in the mountains Kurt can be found hanging around in the trees as a Certified Arborist or floating the rivers of canyon country in his handmade wooden dory.

Rochelle Ford

Filed in Paragon Guides Professionals by on September 15, 2015

Rochelle Ford

Rochelle_FordRochelle has worked with Paragon since the winter of 2008. A native to Colorado she has lived in the area since she was a teenager. On skis or snowshoes she enjoys exploring the mountains near her place in Vail. Rochelle is certified as a Wilderness First Responder and has an AIARE Level 2 Avalanche certificate. She also has a degree in horticultural landscaping from CSU. She spends her time with her family, friends and her dogs.

Pam Gibbs

Filed in Paragon Guides Professionals by on September 15, 2015

Pam Gibbs

Pam describes herself as a soul with a perpetual drive to understand life. She first followed a more conventional approach, studying Plant Biology at Wellesley College and then completing full graduate level studies in Biology at Brown University. She then opted to continue the quest by returning to her childhood love of wild places and chose to settle in the mountains. She is well acquainted with the chaos that life can present and credits this to helping her discover and hone her more philosophical gifts.

Pam Gibbs paragon GuidesShe began guiding after completing a one week solo back-country trip with a llama in the Holy Cross Wilderness area near Vail, CO where she currently lives. She eventually begged for a chance to work as a guide as a way to continue working with Paragon’s llamas and sharing the joys of this with others.

Her approach to the wilderness emphasizes reconnecting to a deeper sense of power and Self by allowing time in the wilderness to practice listening. She views the relationship that we have to Wilderness as a metaphor for exploring the wilderness within our own Self. She completed a 500+ mile section of the Camino pilgrimage across Northern Spain, finding it far more challenging because of the excessive amount of walking on roads. She is particularly enthusiastic about sharing her explorations for inner and outer self-reliance with women and girls.

Structured Training – Courses in Medicinal Plants, Basic Mountaineering as well as a two week Outward Bound course, where she thoroughly flunked the twenty four hour solo requirement.

Ryland Gardner

Filed in Paragon Guides Professionals by on September 15, 2015

Ryland Gardner

Ryland Gardner has been guiding for Paragon Guides since . He moved to the west from Virginia after college and has lived in or close to the Rocky Mountains since. Ryland has a Master of Arts from Prescott College in Natural Science and Environmental Education and his passion for the natural history and ecology of the Rockies compliments his passion for backcountry skiing, climbing, and sharing the magic of wild places with his students and clients.Ryland Gardner Paragon GuidesRyland “cut his teeth” backcountry skiing and climbing in the rugged Teton Range of Wyoming where he, in addition to climbing and skiing many of the amazing peaks of the range, made the first ski descent of the Zorro Snowfields on Cloudveil Dome on telemark skis.

In addition to guiding for Paragon, Ryland also works as a wilderness and rock climbing instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School guiding climbing and wilderness trips up to a month in length. Ryland is also a wilderness EMT and teaches wilderness medicine for the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS. In addition to guiding in the backcountry, Ryland works as an adjunct faculty member for the Prescott College Graduate program in the fields of adventure and environmental education as well as environmental studies. When he is not guiding, he can be found doing carpentry work in Boulder or off on an adventure with his wife Shari and their two boys Nate and Robbie.

Meredith Goldberg

Filed in Paragon Guides Professionals by on September 15, 2015

Meredith Goldberg

Born and raised in northeastern New Jersey, Meredith spent the happier moments of her childhood “romping” in the Adirondack, Catskill, and Berkshire Mountains. She graduated from Colgate University in 1989 with a BA in English Literature and immediately Meredith Golberg Paragon Guidesmoved to Colorado, following the undeniable pull of the mountains even before in was fully acknowledged. These days Meredith finds herself deep in exploration of the Colorado Rocky Mtns., learning what she can of the flora & fauna that openly welcomes her in her most peaceful moments.

Meredith has worked at both Copper and Breckenridge Ski Resorts, studied Orienteering and Map & Compass at Colorado Mtn. College, is a certified Wilderness First Responder and has CPR training.

Mike Holmes

Filed in Paragon Guides Professionals by on September 15, 2015

Mike Holmes

Mike was born and raised on the Continental Divide, just south of Guanella Pass, Colorado. He spent many of his formative days exploring and learning about the high alpine terrain near the 11,669ft pass that had been named by his mother. The remote mountain setting located between the historic mining towns of Breckenridge and Georgetown was Mike’s “home-range”.

Mike Holmes Paragon GuidesAfter some years of exploring alternatives, including rodeo, Mike settled in Breckenridge and has continued to pursue his passion for skiing. His childhood days remain an influence on his approach to his adult pursuits and have nourished his deep felt joy for Wilderness.

Mike joined Paragon Guides in 1998, after 6 years with the Summit County Search and Rescue Team as Avalanche Training Coordinator, Snow Safety Helicopter Technician and Site Commander. As a Senior Guide for Paragon, Mike still loves every minute he gets to guide people through the magical world of the Colorado Backcountry.