Commando Run (Vail Pass to Vail Ski Resort)

Commando Run (Vail Pass to Vail Ski Resort)

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jan 5, 2019
Activities Activities: Skiing
Seasons Season: Winter

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The distinguished ski tour from Vail pass to Vail ski base. We took advantage of the recent dry spell to find a more stable snow base. I was expecting daily freeze/thaw with crust everywhere. I was instead surprised to find much fresh powder in the high areas and north facing aspects. In a nod to the $200/day lift ticket announced this week, we chose the ending option to ski down the resort rather than continuing the ridge line from Red mt.

Emily, Josh, Caleb and me met up in Morrison at 5:30 to beat the I-70 ski traffic and depart from Vail pass (at N39.53013 W106.21717) at 7:15 am. From the trailhead at N39.52846 W106.21998, we reached the turn off of the road to the wilderness at N39.56350 W106.26864 at 9:16, the summit of hill 1 (peak 11611 on the USGS topo at N39.56704 W106.27805) at 10:27, the summit of hill 2 (peak 11710 at N39.56896 W106.29194) at 10:27, the summit of hill 3 (peak 11696 at N39.57183 W106.29656) at 11:52, the summit of hill 4 (peak 11618 at N39.58135 W106.29082) at 12:44, the summit of Red mt. (peak 11816 at N39.60144 W106.30151) at 2:38, the Two Elk lodge (at N39.60646 W106.33198) at 4 pm, and Vail ski base (at N39.63915 W106.37411) at 4:30. After a beer and snack we took an Über from Vail to get to Vail pass at 6 pm and return home at 8:30 pm.

We were not aggressively fast - we did stop for snack breaks and some quick skiing along the route.

Once at Vail, we would have been better suited to cut low and left of peaks 11521 at N39.60271 W106.31752 and 11421 at N39.60531 W106.32278. This would have helped to avoid chucking our skis and having to down-climb the low point in the rock band near the ski lift above China bowl.

Apart from the ski resort, I took the route touring with ski skins on the whole time. For those seeking some turns, brief downhill sections can be found at Shrine pass, peak 11696, peak 11618, and (again) Vail ski resort.

An alternate/more traditional end to the route is to descend the ridge north of Red mt, and follow the forest road along Mill creek to Vail ski base. This path makes much less use of the ski runs at Vail ski resort.

Another alternative ending would be to ski from Vail ski resort (at chairs 7 or 3) to Minturn. This adds some mileage traversing across the top of Vail ski resort's backbowls. Pack light, go fast, and pick a day for some fresh snow. The descriptions of the Minturn Mile typically describe ''bobsled like'' conditions for parts of that segment. It looks like you can readily uber from Minturn to Vail or Vail pass.

for photos see:


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