Photo Credit: Kevin Banker Cinefoto
Minturn Backcountry Provides Great Exercise, Little Risk, and Amazing Turns
Few people realize how much of Vail’s backcountry is actually Minturn Backcountry. In fact, the Vela Team spends a lot of our time hiking, skinning, and skiing off-piste in Minturn.
Minturn backcountry makes up some of the best all-around backcountry in Colorado. It’s not always the steepest or extreme terrain, but overall it has some of the best terrain to offer.
Backcountry Near Minturn
Meadow Mountain, for starters, is perfect for a 1-3 hour hike. In the 60’s, this area was a very small ski resort with just a couple lifts. Therefore the terrain still really feels a lot like a traditional ski hill. There always plenty of tracks to follow and always lots of good fresh snow to find.
In addition to Meadow Mountain, we also have Grouse Mountain and Cougar Ridge that are equally as convenient and offer great, safe terrain as well. Another famous run known as the Minturn Mile finishes right by the Minturn Salon. This run offers amazing out-of-bounds turns on the West end of Vail Resort. Alternatively, for big mountain and extreme terrain, the Mount of Holy Cross is one of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks. If you really know your stuff, this run is one the coveted backcountry descents of North America.
Moreover, if you are more into nordic skiing than alpine touring, Minturn still has a lot to offer. Vail and Beaver Creek both have nice nordic centers, but arguably Maloit park in Minturn is the most wild and rustic. For more information on nordic ski areas, read Kim Fuller’s article here.
Backcountry in the 10th Mountain Hut System
Minturn also happens to be the gateway to access many of the 10th Mountain Division’s hut system. Camp Hale – located just 20 minutes past Minturn – is where the 10th Mountain Division trained. Around and above Camp Hale, there many winter trails and access to some the of the Hut system’s most famed huts. Outside of Camp Hale, much of the Minturn backcountry is just a short distance to this amazing hut system.
Backcountry Safety is Absolutely a Must
Finally, it can’t go without saying that if you plan on going in the backcountry, make sure you are taking all the necessary precautions. For this reason, a level 1 avalanche safety certification is a bare minimum. Make sure you and all your companions have a beacon, probe and shovel. While Minturn may have some of the safest backcountry access in the area, avalanches are highly unpredictable. You should also consider making sure everyone has some kind of radio or communication device other than a cell phone. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you will have cell phone coverage. If you become lost, you’ll need someway to communicate with your team.
Ultimately, have fun, be safe and make sure to go with someone who knows the terrain. We’ll see you out there!
Liked the photos? Check out Kevin Banker Cinefoto.