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Ostrander Ski Hut, Yosemite

An exciting winter adventure from the Horizon Ridge Approach in Yosemite National Park
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 9.1 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

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 »

Tips:  A GPS track and guide is NO substitute for skiing ability, avalanche safety knowledge, winter travel experience, map and compass... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Ranger Station at Badger Pass A-Frame

Check in and get your free wilderness permit at the Badger Pass Ranger Station before you set off. The A-frame is located near the ski resort lodge.

Park in the (overnight) permit parking only area (with a permit from the ranger) at the far end of the Badger Pass Ski Area parking (there are signs).

2. Glacier Point Road

The first half of the trip follows the Glacier Point road, which is groomed for cross-country skiing in winter.

3. Glacier Point road turnoff to Horizon Ridge

Turnoff Glacier Point Road onto Horizon Ridge Trail

4. Trail Markers

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

5. Red Fir Meadow / Top of First Hill

The first climb tops out into a red fir meadow, and remains somewhat flat for 2 miles.

6. Base of Horizon Ridge

Horizon Ridge is a 900' climb to the top, and is tiring even in good conditions. Trailbreaking can be slow.

7. Horizon Ridge Views

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

8. Windblown Trees

Horizon Ridge is exposed and experiences high winds, usually from the west. Windblown trees attest to the powerful winds.

9. Junction of Horizon Ridge and Bridelveil Trails.

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.

10. Go Right, traverse for a little while.

Right hand turn on a "switchback", but you still have climbing to do.

11. Left uphill

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!)

12. Top of Heartbreak Hill

Top of Hearbreak Hill - you earned it after that 600' climb from the saddle! Skins off and go 100' downhill to the hut!

13. Ostrander Hut

The Ostrander Hut, built in 1941, is a two-story stone and wood structure that can house up to 25 skiers. It comes equipped with a wood stove, primitive toilets, and a kitchen for use by guests. A hutmeister lives at the hut in winter to take care of the hut and give advice to visitors.

14. Ostrander Hut Interior

The Ostrander Hut has a downstairs sleeping and living area, an upstairs sleeping loft, and toilets. The hut comes complete with table, stoves, pots, pans, utensils, fireplace, lines for drying clothing, (untreated) buckets of water, sink, dish soap, and a friendly hutmeister.

15. Day Tour: The Bowl on Horse Ridge.

Many skiers spend entire days lapping the north-facing bowl for outstanding powder turns. Avalanches can certainly be a concern here, so bring your beacon, probe, shovel, pay attention to conditions, and check with the hutmeister before you go up.

16. Day Tour: Buena Vista Peak

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

17. Day Tour: Hart Lake

Touring over to Hart Lakes makes for a mellow and safe day skin from the hut. Head generally east to Hart Lakes.

18. Day Tour: Horse Ridge

The top of Horse Ridge is flat and makes for a beautiful tour with good views. You can make a loop either way, but be careful not to descend too far on the west side of the ridge, and choose your path carefully as you may encounter boulders, brush, and avalanche-prone terrain.

19. Bridalveil Creek Trail

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.