Time To Enter The Lottery For A Winter's Night At the Ostrander Ski Hut In Yosemite National Park

One of the popular backcountry winter treks in Yosemite National Park is the 10-mile ski to Ostrander Lake. If that interests you, and you'd like to spend some time near the lake, now's the time to enter the lottery for a night at the Ostrander Ski Hut.

The Yosemite Conservancy is accepting lottery registration forms for the coming season -- December 16 through March 31 -- through 5 p.m. PST on November 16. If there are any dates available after the lottery runs its course, phone reservations may be made to 209-379-5161 beginning November 28.

"Ostrander Ski Hut provides visitors with the opportunity to have an unforgettable and breathtaking winter experience in Yosemite," said Mike Tollefson, president of the conservancy. "Along the routes to Ostrander, there are places of solitude and awe-inspiring views of Half Dome, the Clark Range and Mount Hoffmann."

Once at the hut, there are a number of backcountry skiing opportunities nearby, he added.

"The ski area around the Ostrander cirque offers many unique ski trails, including multiple descents off Horse Ridge," said Mr. Tollefson.

The Yosemite Conservancy manages the rustic two-story stone ski hut, which sits in a small glacial cirque at the edge of Ostrander Lake at 8,500 feet. The historic hut was built in 1941, and retains much of its original facilities.

Of course, don't expect all the amenities of home. there is no electricity or running water at this rustic ski hut. Accommodation include single bunks with mattresses, community cookware stocked in a common kitchen, wood for heating, solar-powered electric lights for evening use and two outdoor toilet facilities, according to the conservancy.

Visitors must provide their own food, water filter, sleeping bag and personal gear. Water is collected from the lake in a cistern and must be personally filtered before use.

Nightly rates range from $42 Monday through Thursday and $52 a night Friday through Sunday.

Yosemite Conservancy's Fritz Baggett lives at the hut during the winter months and has been one of only three hut keepers to maintain the building since the organization took over its management in 1974.

"It's truly a unique experience to be in real wilderness in a national park during winter," he said. "Imagine open granite bowls stretching from ponds and lakes to peaks and steep ridges - it's very special."

The Ostrander Ski Hut houses a maximum number of 25 people. Large groups are welcome, but the limit for a single party is 15 people. Reservation information, equipment lists and a description of facilities can be found at www.YosemiteConservancy.org/Ostrander.