The Outdoor Junkie | All Blogs

The Commando Run

By Ann Driggers

The Commando Run is a ski tour from Vail Pass to Vail which, according to the Falcon Winter Trails guidebook, is named for the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division soldiers who used the route for training in high altitude skiing combat and for the commando raids during world war II. An excellent history of the 10th Mountain Division can be found over on Lou Dawson's Wildsnow website.

For us it was an opportunity to spend a big day out on skis on what is considered to be one of the most challenging and best ski tours in Colorado. Pegged at 18 miles with 2,800 feet  of ascent and 5,000 feet of descent it's fairly stiff. We decided to switch it up and swapped out the prescribed descent down the Vail ski area with the more adventurous Minturn Mile. The additional distance was more than compensated by ending up at the Minturn Saloon which functioned as a big fat carrot throughout the day.

Just before 8:30 a.m. the Flying Five Troop departed Vail Pass as a storm cleared leaving behind a few inches of cold fresh snow.

Headed west towards Shrine Pass:

The new snow was just enough to freshen up the surface but not enough to slow us down. In fact we were surprised at the cold temperatures on what was forecast to be a warmish spring day. We had every kind of weather during the trip - sun, snow, rain, and wind - but ultimately the conditions were excellent for fast travel, unlike my previous time on this route when we were bogged down in gloppy snow and searing heat.

After five miles or so we reached the ridge which gave us panaromic views of the Gore Range to our right and lofty fourteener Mount of the Holy Cross to our right. Trooper Malone catches a glimpse of the legendary mountain through the swirling clouds:

As we descended the north west flank of Battle Mountain we enjoyed some nice powdery turns. Here Trooper Tibboel is dwarfed by the old growth trees:

After our peaceful time wandering in the woods we entered the Vail ski area. It was like another planet and it was harsh. We plowed through the mass of seething humanity and beat a hasty exit into the Minturn Mile. Although a popular 'backcountry' run we found some nice untracked chalky snow and a dearth of spring breakers. Back in heaven Trooper Gingrich lays sweet telemark turns into the Game Creek drainage:

We traveled all the way down this valley with the evergreens on the left and aspens on the right until it ends high left of picture center in Minturn. As we progressed the snow conditions became more spring-like requiring surfing of snow bridges through beaver ponds, some rock hopping and removal of skis at one point. Yours truly, Trooper Driggers, practices her best snowplow on the narrow trail at the end of the renamed Mudturn Mile:

After 6 hours and 45 minutes and approximately 19 miles, we reach the end of the Commando Run. Trooper Gingrich is stoked:

As are the rest of the Flying Five with celebratory beers at the Minturn Saloon.

Job well done, my fine soldiers!


Please Login or Register to leave a comment.

Perhaps I should give the commando run a try, I haven’t been out in the mountains in a while and I really miss them. Plus, I plan to travel the world and reaching the highest mountain tops all over the world ranks high on my travel list, so I really could use some extra training!

ski wear london - 47 Degrees The Ski Shop. Exclusive stockist of DPS Skis in the UK. Specialized in ski clothing, skis, boots, helmets, goggles and accessories.

47 Degrees The Ski Shop. Exclusive stockist of DPS Skis in the UK. Specialized in ski clothing, skis, boots, helmets, goggles and accessories.

The commando run is quite famous among sky enthusiasts, especially for its perfect slopes. While some people expect winter, others plan a trip to Galapagos for this summer, in both cases their vacation destinations are on many’s bucket list.

How many of you wouldn’t like to ski here and take a closer look at these spectacular landscapes? Lots of you expect winter for such experience but what about summer? That’s the perfect time for duathlon races, you see, each season has its specific activities and you should take full advantage of them.

Wow, those are great quality photos with superb scenery. I would love to go for these adventurous rides. They are showing a great dedication in completing the lap. I hope everyone enjoyed this great adventure. I can see that in their smiles.Meaningful Use

Most people prefer winter when it comes to traveling, mainly because they love winter sports, but every season has its charm. While some people are concerned more about seasons when they plan a trip, others make sure they first obtain a visa at the US passport agency in NYC and then settle down the other aspects related to their trip, all in order to have a perfect vacation.

This ski trip is just perfect for the summer vacation, you can spend time doing skiing surrounded by beautiful nature. However, if you prefer doing water activities then scuba diving would be perfect for you. Just contact!caymen-brac/ct7z where you can not only find scuba training courses but also wide range of equipments.

It would be an interesting trip for those who love adventure. But now that the summer is almost here, people are planning trips to places where they can find some time to relax. However, now one does not have to worry about travel costs because there are online travel packages available which could help him save plenty of money.

This trip is not going to be easy for all travelers, only those who have good physical stamina and who love adventure they would be able to take this trip. However, in summer boating on the river could be relaxing, but before taking your old boat on the river make sure you get new parts for it. There are online stores which offer discount marine parts.

Recent Posts
Lettuce reconsider
By Penny Stine
Friday, May 22, 2015

Freshman year is one for the books
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, May 21, 2015

The List: Keeping kids busy this summer
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, May 21, 2015

I escaped Target for less than $100!
By Julie Norman
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What not to do when planting asparagus
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, May 20, 2015


734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050; M-F 8:00 - 5:00
Subscribe to print edition
Advertiser Tearsheet

© 2015 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy