Battle Mountain by snowmobile |

Battle Mountain by snowmobile

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado

MINTURN ” Drive past Minturn along the Eagle River a few years from now and you won’t see the Ginn Development Co.’s proposed private development on Battle Mountain ” even if it’s built.

In the present day, continue a couple miles past Gilman village along Highway 24 and a black metal gate on the left blocks access to a winding, paved road that eventually turns into mud. The homes will sit farther up, tucked behind Battle Mountain facing Highway 24.

When the homes are built, you’ll only be able to see them from Camp Hale, miles away between Red Cliff and Leadville.

The company wants to build 1,700 homes on 5,400 acres on Battle Mountain, south of Minturn. In a process that takes several steps, Minturn has given conceptual approval to the plan, but has not yet formally approved housing developments on the land, purchased by the company for about $32.75 million, said Cliff Thompson, spokesman for the Ginn Development Co.

“The applications we’ve made to the town are voluminous ” they must weigh about 40 pounds,” Thompson said.

Along the roadside beyond the gate lie a few piles of hundreds of neatly stacked trees. The company’s workers have been cutting them down because of bark beetle infestations in the region. Plenty of trees still stand ” but one imagines some of the new groves are where the company will build homes.

You may never get to ski or snowboard along the development’s gentle, mostly pristine powder-filled slopes, where Thompson and Director of Security Mark Allen gave me and another journalist a snowmobile tour Friday. That is, you won’t get up there if Allen has anything to do with it.

It’s no secret that Battle Mountain is a great place to play. It’s evident from a lone, outlaw snowmobile track at the bottom of a 15-foot cliff at Fire Pit, the aptly named bowl near the Willow Creek drainage. Farther south along the drainage, a few cliffs of reasonable heights drop like stairs, an audacious line for even the most daring.

An inexperienced snowmobiler, I gunned a company snowmobile up a ferociously steep slope nearby. Just before the top, the tread slipped and so did the sled ” back down the steeps despite my attempt at a Vulcan grip on the brake. I stomped my boots on the snow, but to no avail.

Thirty feet later, sled still tearing downward, I briefly considered jumping off and letting it plummet to the bottom. (I was later glad I stayed mounted, as I didn’t closely read the release form I signed earlier.)

Finally, the brake worked. With some help, I maneuvered the sled back to the trail.

The slope’s steepness is typical of much of the ski area ” where houses will be interspersed among some of the runs ” though gentler gladed hills are abundant, too.

Thompson, who’s lived in the Vail Valley for 27 years, said he the vertical drop of the longest ski run is about 2,900 feet. Most of the others are 1,200 feet, he said.

So if you’ve never been up on the private property, trust me that it’s a beautiful area, though some of it can be seen from Vail’s back bowls. Better yet, befriend someone who buys a house or condominium there ” you’ll see.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or

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