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A warming hut is a structure located along a ski trail. Warming huts are dotted throughout areas where skiing is popular to provide rest and warmth to weary cross country skiers. Warming huts are managed in a variety of ways, with some open to all skiers and others requiring a paid reservation. The tradition of providing shelter to skiers is one which stretches back throughout the history of skiing.
With cross country skiing, some skiers ski for several days or weeks, making an expedition out of the ski trip. Especially in parts of Europe, cross country and alpine skiing trips are a popular winter pastime. At the end of the day, tired skiers need somewhere to stay. In some regions, a ski resort or ski lodge may be available. Ski resorts tend to provide more upscale accommodations, which might include luxurious suites of rooms as well as attractive amenities.
In other regions, however, a ski resort is not readily available. For this reason, a warming hut may be established. Warming huts are spaced out along treacherous trails to provide shelter to skiers caught in inclement conditions. A warming hut may be a simple structure with minimal provisions for comfort, or a cozy cabin which includes fueling stations, a large kitchen, and other amenities. Some cross country skiers travel from warming hut to warming hut, meeting other skiers along the way.
In many regions, warming huts are provided as a public service. Local skiers help to maintain the hut, and sometimes provide a small ski cafe as well which offers food, beverages, and other services including fuel for off road vehicles. Usually these types of warming huts request a small donation from skiers to help offset the cost of maintaining the hut, although skiers in need are not obligated to pay. Communities work together to make their warming huts available throughout the ski season.
Sometimes, a warming hut may be associated with a ski resort. When this is the case, usually a paid reservation to use the warming hut is required. Resort staff can acquaint skiers with information about warming huts maintained by the resort. These warming huts are usually maintained on a daily basis, along with the rest of the associated trails and buildings of the ski resort.
In other areas, warming huts are not formally maintained, although visiting skiers are encouraged to contribute to the warming huts they stay in. Minimal warming hunts for shelter can be found in many parts of the Eastern United States. These warming huts usually include basic equipment such as beds and stoves, so that skiers can sleep and cook in a sheltered area. Public service organizations such as the Boy Scouts may check on these warming huts periodically to make sure that they are in good condition, and it is considered courteous to contact the host of the hut before using it. Most skiing areas provide a list of local warming huts and contact information to interested skiers.
Once, hiking in Grand Tetons Wyoming, we misjudged our hiking time, and realized we would not be able to get down the mountain before the nightfall. Fortunately we came upon a warming hut.
How lucky for us. It was large, with a heater and wooden benches. We spent the night there, in warm protected environment, and in the early morning hours finished our hike down the mountain. Thank goodness for warming huts.