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The Million Dollar Traverse

The Imogene Ski Traverse
January 18, 2021
2 Day Ice Climbing Event with Anna Pfaff
November 20, 2021

The Million Dollar Traverse

(These trips are full for 2023-2024. Reach out for private guiding options!)

As featured in Ski Magazine, Outside Magazine, and The New York Times – the Million Dollar Ski Traverse! This is a hut-to-hut-to-hut backcountry touring experience that links up the quintessential mountain towns of Silverton and Ouray, CO via three of the areas prestigous backcountry lodges – The Ophir Pass Ultimate Ski Hut (OPUS) The Red Mountain Alpine Lodge (RMAL) and the Mt. Hayden Backcountry Lodge (MHBL).

Our tour begins in the town of Silverton, where we will shuttle to the trailhead at the junction of Highway 550 and the Ophir Pass Road, which serves as our approach to the OPUS Hut. Arriving to the OPUS around noon will give us an afternoon to explore some tours and terrain in the Ophir Pass area, before returning to the hut for dinner. After a hearty breakfast, the group will gear up for the ascent over a 13,000′ col and subsequent ski descent to Columbine Lake. From there, an inspiring high alpine traverse through upper Porphyry and Mineral Basins takes us to the shoulder of Trico Peak (13,321′) – the point at which 3 Counties meet (San Juan, San Miguel, and Ouray Counties). An enjoyable ski descent takes us to the Red Mountain Alpine Lodge – our accommodations for the next two nights. The next day, we have the opportunity to ski around Red Mountain Pass which offers a number of inspiring objectives such as Champion Bowl and Hollywood on Red #3. After our second night at RMAL, we’ll gear up for our ascent of Senator Beck Basin towards historic Imogene Basin, where we’ll tour up and over a 13,000′ col, passing by Telluride Peak (13,509′) along the way, and ski right down to the Hayden Backcountry Lodge. The final day of the program allows for a final morning ski tour before heading down into the Camp Bird Rd zone where our shuttle vehicle will be waiting to take us back to Ouray.

Tour Logistics

This one-of-a-kind trip includes guiding and trip leadership from IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guides, premium lodging at the area’s finest new backcountry lodges, as well as chef prepared breakfast/lunch/dinner on the program. You need only bring your touring set up (AT Skis or Splitboard) and a day pack with your day touring equipment. This insures that your pack is light for the touring days and makes it just like the experience you would expect on similar European high route ski tours. Space is limited so book online or get in touch with our office today to sign up!

2024 Dates

March 21 – 25 FULL!

March 27 – 31 FULL!

April 2 – 6 FULL!

April 10 – 14 FULL!

April 17 – 21 FULL!


$2499 per person

rexerNo Hidden Fees

  • Guiding and instruction with an IFMGA or AMGA Certified Guide(s)
  • All avalanche gear (beacon, probe, shovel)
  • 4 nights Lodging at OPUS, RMAL & MHBL
  • Breakfast, Lunch (at RMAL only), and Dinner
  • Round-trip transportation to and from Red Mountain Pass and our office in Ouray
  • Touring skis, skins, boots, and poles are available to rent from our office for an additional rental fee

San Juan Interconnect 22 Itinerary

Day 0

Meet at SJMG office at 1600 for trip intro and finalize paperwork. It is not required that you show up on this day but we prefer to meet on this day to make sure that everyone has their gear prepped and ready to go for the next day, as we will be heading out into the backcountry early in the morning.  Stay in a hotel in Ouray.

Day 1

Meet at the SJMG office at 0800 and we then shuttle to Silverton and the Ophir Pass Road Trailhead. The group will tour up the Ophir Pass Road eventually ending up at the OPUS Hut. We’ll drop a bit of personal gear, then head out for an afternoon tour from the hut. Given the time of year, the days are long so there is plenty of time to explore and ski some inspiring terrain in the Ophir Pass area. We’ll return to the hut in the afternoon and enjoy a hearty meal in the evening.

Day 2

Breakfast at the hut and then the group will prepare for an ascent up and over a 13,000′ col and ski descent leading to Columbine Lake. From there, an amazing high alpine traverse takes the group through upper Porphyry and Mineral Basins eventually leading to Trico Peak (13,321′) where 3 Colorado Counties merge (San Juan, San Miguel, and Ouray Counties). From there, a long enjoyable ski descent to highway 550 and the Red Mountain Alpine Lodge (our accommodations for the evening) ensues. What a day!

Day 3

Breakfast at the lodge and then it is off into the backcountry for tour. Many options exist in the vast and varied backcountry around Red Mountain Pass which offers a number of inspiring objectives such as Champion Bowl and Hollywood on Red #3. Our goal will be to find the best possible ski descent given the conditions and group dynamics. We will return to the lodge for lunch (if appropriate), and then head out for another tour. Return to the lodge in the afternoon enjoy a chef prepared dinner.

Day 4

Breakfast at the lodge and then the group will tour up Senator Beck Basin towards Telluride Peak, eventually making our way over a col at approximately 13,000′. The group will ski down into Imogene Basin (a long descent!) and then wrap around into Richmond Basin where we will be lodging at the Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge. Appetizers/Soup and Dinner is provided on this evening.

Day 5

Breakfast at the lodge and then a morning tour highlights the final day of our trip. The group will eventually head out towards Ouray via Camp Bird Road. Participants can generally expect to be back in Ouray by 3 pm on this day.

Backcountry Skiing Equipment List

Duffel BagDescriptionGuide's Pick
1 - 2 Large, durable bags for oragnizing and transporting your gear during airline travel etc.
Ski BackpackDescriptionGuide's Pick
The Kamber ABS® compatible 22+10 give you the option to add an inflatable airbag system to a technical ski pack designed to carry everything for a full day in the backcountry. We highly recommend a specific ski touring pack for all of our backcountry ski and avalanche programs.
ThermosDescriptionGuide's Pick
Coffee is the lifeblood of champions. We highly encourage the consumption of coffee on our programs. The darker the better.
Water BottlesDescriptionGuide's Pick
We recommend wide mouth Nalgene (or similar) water bottles for the majority of our programs. Two 1 liter bottles is the standard for days in the mountains.
Bottle InsulatorsDescriptionGuide's Pick
Insulating water bottle parkas are recommended in the winter months, for ice climbing or cold weather alpine trips.
Stuff SacksDescriptionGuide's Pick
Stuff sacks are a great way to organize your gear in your pack and help to keep things tidy in a variety of ways. A great addition to any of our programs.
Personal FoodDescriptionGuide's Pick
Lunch begins when breakfast ends and ends when dinner begins. Bring what you like to eat and consider the length, relative difficulty, weight, and other factors when deciding what to bring in the mountains with you. A variety is always best. Don't be afraid of Mr. T.
SunglassesDescriptionGuide's Pick
A good pair of wrap around sunglasses are an essential item for all of our trips. When the sun shines brightly on fresh snow in the mountains your eyes will thank you for a quality pair of shades. Looking good is important too.
SunscreenDescriptionGuide's Pick
Essential for all of our programs. SPF 30 would be our minimum recommendation. Typically a 4 oz. bottle will suffice but consider trip length when deciding how much to pack.
Lip BalmDescriptionGuide's Pick
Lip balm is important to bring on all trips. SPF 15 or higher is recommended.
HeadlampDescriptionGuide's Pick
A headlamp is recommended for all of our programs and is an essential piece of equipment you will use in a variety of circumstances. Most LED type headlamps will do but we recommend the Black Diamond Storm for its versatility.
First Aid KitDescriptionGuide's Pick
An excellent investment for all of our programs. Our guides always carry a comprehensive medical kit but it's nice to have your own as well.
Small KnifeDescriptionGuide's Pick
A small knife is an indispensable tool to carry with you in the mountains. We like the Spatha knife for its size, weight, versatility, and ability to clip onto a harness.
Digital CameraDescriptionGuide's Pick
While phones these days offer excellent quality, nothing beats the reliability of a dedicated digital camera. You'll be glad you brought it and your guide will make sure to help capture the moment of you being awesome.
Hand WarmersDescriptionGuide's Pick
An optional item, but nice to have on cold weather climbs and courses. Consider having a few stowed away in your pack and you can break them out if you feel you need them.
Ski GogglesDescriptionGuide's Pick
From the sweeping peripheral in the Optimum lens, to the horizon-inspired frame structure, FARGO proves sometimes a quick stop in a small place leads to more than you would have ever expected. Goggles are mandatory on all ski programs and cold weather alpine objectives.
SocksDescriptionGuide's Pick
Synthetic socks area must for all outdoor activities. Select a pair that fits well, is warm, and is comfortable. Bring 2-3 pairs depending on the type of trip.
Base Layer TopDescriptionGuide's Pick
Choosing the right base layer really makes a difference in comfort, moisture-wicking, and the balance between cool and warm at the right time and in the right places. The Outdoor Research Echo Hoody also offers good sun protection.
Base Layer BottomDescriptionGuide's Pick
Similar to the base layer top. These are wear all the time in all conditions base layer pants. A must have for alpine and ice climbing trips and objectives.
Mid Weight TopDescriptionGuide's Pick
A midlayer for anything from ski tours to alpine ascents, the CoEfficient Hoody features Polartec Power Dry High Efficiency fleece with a gridded interior for increased wicking performance and added breathability. The under-the-helmet hood and full-length zipper let you regulate temperature on the go, so you don’t find yourself overheating a half hour into the day. A slim cut helps the CoEfficient Hoody fit comfortably under your shell, and with a redsigned, trim fit, this layer takes up little space in your pack.
Ski Touring JacketDescriptionGuide's Pick
Sweating one minute and freezing the next is only fun when you’re jumping from a hot tub into the snow and back—not while you’re skiing. If the words “ski season” make you think about moving uphill as much as downhill, the Skyward Jacket speaks your language. Air-permeable AscentShell technology keeps you cool and dry while skinning up, and keeps the speed-generated windchill out after you peel off your skins and drop in for the descent.
Ski Touring PantsDescriptionGuide's Pick
Traverse the Rockies’ rugged ridgelines in the Trailbreaker Pants. This highly breathable soft shell pant provides the perfect amount of weather protection and breathable warmth. Pertex® Shield+ lower legs offer complete waterproof protection when you’re breaking trail in the front of the pack.
Ski Touring PuffyDescriptionGuide's Pick
Perfect for aerobic climbs and ski tours, this backcountry chameleon provides the warmth of a synthetic puffy one moment and the breathability and quick-dry performance of a fleece the next, all without forcing you to add, remove or adjust your layers.
Insulated VestDescriptionGuide's Pick
Same spirit, same guts, and same award-winning hybrid-mapped design of the Cathode Hooded Jacket, minus the sleeves and hood. An insulated vest is an optional item on our programs but we do think vests offer excellent flexible layering options in a variety of circumstances, weather conditions, and trip types.
Shell JacketDescriptionGuide's Pick
Our Outside Magazine and Men’s Journal “Gear of the Year” award-winning storm shell is engineered for fast-and-light alpine climbs and all-day backcountry tours. You need at minimum either a soft shell jacket or hard shell jacket for local Ouray based winter courses and programs.
Ski Touring HatDescriptionGuide's Pick
Get out and get after early mornings with fresh powder. The Delegate Beanie is made with a merino wool blend and a warm micro fleece polyester earband. A chunky knit beanie with a knit-in logo, the contrast pom adds a nice funky touch.
Baseball CapDescriptionGuide's Pick
A required item on the majority of our programs, a baseball cap helps to keep harmful sun off your face. The Radar Pocket cap is packable, durable, and looks great!
Lightweight GlovesDescriptionGuide's Pick
Updated for touchscreen compatibility, the StormTracker Sensor Gloves are equally at home alpine climbing, ski touring or ice climbing. Low-profile GORE® WINDSTOPPER®. Soft Shell fabric deflects biting gusts, and a tricot lining retains valuable heat.
Midweight GlovesDescriptionGuide's Pick
Built to handle cold mornings on the up-track and powder turns all the way back down, these versatile gloves feature a new stretch nylon shell outer, a goat leather palm with textured fingertips, and a warm, quick-drying wool blend lining.
Heavy GlovesDescriptionGuide's Pick
Made with a water-resistant and breathable two-layer GORE® WINDSTOPPER® fabric, these mitts are filled with warm 600-fill power RDS goose down. Water-resistant synthetic suede palms with a fleece backer add extra durability and protection to these warm, compressible, wind-proof gloves.
Balaclava or BuffDescriptionGuide's Pick
Simple, effective and infinitely adaptable, Original BUFF® headwear is the product that started the multifunctional headwear revolution. At its core is a moisture-managing microfiber fabric that is wind resistant and able to control odor. We recommend the BUFF for all of our programs as a multi-purpose insulation piece and trendy headgear!
Touring SkisDescriptionGuide's Pick
Touring skis with touring bindings are required for all of our ski programs. We have these skis to rent an our shop in Ouray if you do not have your own. If purchasing your own skis, make sure to select a touring binding that is compatible with your boots.
Climbing SkinsDescriptionGuide's Pick
Climbing Skins are a required item for all of our backcountry ski and avalanche programs. We offer these to rent at our office in Ouray if you do not have your own for your skis. Many ski companies now make climbing skins specifically cut to your skis.
Ski Touring BootsDescriptionGuide's Pick
Refined for 2016, the Spectre 2.0 is now 5% stiffer while retaining the largest range of cuff rotation in its class. The patented design allows for a full 60˚ of ankle movement, while the vertebra construction provides support on downhill descents. The Spectre 2.0 now works with all tech, tr2 and step-in at bindings, for more versatility and compatibility.
Ski PolesDescriptionGuide's Pick
Our classic ski touring poles with a pro-level feature set, the all-aluminum Traverse Pro poles feature FlickLock Pro adjustability and an innovative SwitchRelease wrist strap with a lockable release function.
Avalanche TransceiverDescriptionGuide's Pick
The PIEPS DSP Sport Avalanche Beacon is the go-to beacon for the everyday backcountry traveler, offering circular range, a smart transmitter, and three-antenna accuracy in an easy-to-use package.
Avalanche ShovelDescriptionGuide's Pick
With a redesigned blade construction for cleaner snow study and easier stomping through hard avy debris, the Transfer is our workhorse shovel with a removable, extendable shaft for working in deep pits.
Avalanche ProbeDescriptionGuide's Pick
Built for daily snow study, snow professionals and deeper snowpacks, the Tour Probe 320 features a durable, all-aluminum construction.
Snow Study KitDescriptionGuide's Pick
A snow study kit is optional for Backcountry Ski programs, but it is a great item to carry regardless. For Avalanche Courses please consider purchasing a kit to have with you on the course. Level 2 Course participants should choose the Digital Pro Kit.
Ski Repair KitDescriptionGuide's Pick
A backcountry ski repair kit is well worth the time to put together. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it!

Training & Follow Up Programs

As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great skiing trip.

We work with and recommend Uphill Athlete. They provide a wide range of resources, coaching, and training plans for all types of outdoor athletes. A sample training regimen for this program would be something like their 8 Week Ski Hut-to-Hut Training Program, but many other custom training options exist. Uphill Athlete

Before Your Trip

Strengthening your core is one of the best investments you can make for your overall fitness level. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling arealso  great to build heart and lung endurance. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains.

Follow Up Ski Programs

  • AIARE Level 1 Hut-Based Avalanche Course
  • Backcountry Skiing Leadership
  • Private Backcountry Ski Guiding
  • Ski Mountaineering Camp


Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here

Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.

plane-icon The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO, however, many airlines now offer direct flights into Montrose – especially during the summer and winter months.

It is also possible to fly into Grand Junction, Durango, Telluride, or Denver CO. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of these airports.

suv-icon Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.

  • Montrose, CO: 45 minutes
  • Durango, CO: 2 hours
  • Denver, CO: 5.5 hours


hotel-icon-2 Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suit you best for this trip!


Program Policies

Registration & Cancellation

Advance Registration is required for this program.  You have the option to either call our office and register via phone or utilize our secure Online Reservation System.  All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.


  • Guiding and Instruction with an IFMGA or AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
  • All avalanche gear (beacon, probe, shovel)
  • Lodging fees for 4 nights
  • Breakfast, Lunch (at RMAL only), and Dinner at the lodges
  • Round-trip transportation to and from the trailhead and our office
  • Touring skis, skins, boots, and poles are available to rent from our office for an additional rental fee



  • Transportation to Ouray, CO
  • Hotel costs before or after the program
  • Guide gratuity
  • Personal ski clothing
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance (recommended)
  • Costs associated with weather delays or other variables beyond the control of San Juan Mountain Guides


Book This Trip!

Online Registration

  1. Click on Book This Trip
  2. Select your Program dates
  3. Enter your Info and Payment

Or, call 800.642.5389 to register