Roaring Fork Leadership plans Polar Star hut trip |

Roaring Fork Leadership plans Polar Star hut trip

Roaring Fork Center for Community Leadership will have Luis Benitez, a sought-after mountaineering guide and respected leadership development consultant, oversee a hut trip April 9-10 at the Polar Star Inn near Eagle.

The experience is being offered for $850 to Roaring Fork Valley residents and guests in addition to Roaring Fork Leadership alumni and class participants as an experience to undertake leadership training and guided activities while enjoying the exhilarating experience of a Colorado backcountry hut trip.

Benitez will oversee activities and give a keynote presentation on “The Morality of Everest,” discussing his insight into the connection between high mountaineering and leadership. Other training sessions and activities include: “Beacon Drill Olympics,” History of the 10th Mountain Division huts, Building Survival Snow Shelters, and safety and trust in teams.

Benitez, who was appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to oversee the newly formed Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation in June 2015, may have one foot behind a desk, but he keeps the other outdoors. Benitez has scaled the highest points on each of the world’s continent a total of 32 times.

He guided renowned blind mountaineer Erik Weihenmayer to the top of Mount Everest. One of Benitez’s favorite Colorado outdoor adventures involved shepherding students across the knife ridge on Capital Peak when he was an instructor for Outward Bound. Because lightning was rolling in, he says it was “sort of spicy.”

One of the biggest challenges facing the outdoor industry is getting disparate groups to understand they all need to be pointing in the same direction, rather than at odds — as is the case with dirt bikers and mountain bikers, for example.

“We must learn how to preserve and protect it [the outdoors]. We have to get to a place where we can start talking about pay-to-play options,” said Benitez. “For too long, we have relied on the nonprofit sector to take care of these special places. We have to find ways to deepen the conversation.”

The three-day/two-night weekend experience includes guided ski-in activities, gourmet meals, leadership training, permit and all fees. All proceeds from the trip will go towards the RFCCL 30th-anniversary scholarship fund and the development of the youth leadership program.

Roaring Fork Center for Community Leadership is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing leadership skills and relationships to transform individuals into engaged citizens. For more information please visit

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