More skiing in Minturn than you think |

More skiing in Minturn than you think

Alex Miller

MINTURN – It’ll be at least two years before the proposed private ski area at Battle Mountain sees any action. But the planning is already well under way for a hill that may rival Beaver Creek in size.Speaking on his cell phone en route to another project in Norway, Mike Larson of International Alpine Design in Vail said Battle Mountain will have between 800 and 1,200 skiable acres. The total mountainside, he said, is about 5,000 acres. A gondola will bring skiers to the Bolt’s Lake area, and another four or five high-speed lifts will serve the rest of the terrain.Ski-in, ski-out is the dominant theme.”We want to incorporate the home sites so that every one of them is directly ski accessible,” Larson said. “It’ll be similar to Bachelor Gulch, where you leave right out of your home in the morning and finish up in the afternoon right on your deck.”The mountain, Larson said, will accommodate a much larger area than people might think exists up there. It will have a beginners’ area as well as plenty of intermediate and advanced skiing on trails and bowls. Almost all of it, he said, will be above the 9,200-foot mark and include about 2,800 vertical feet of skiing.”The views are pretty incredible,” he said. While Battle Mountain has never had chairlift access, some local skiers have given it a try – with mixed reactions.”There’s a whole lot of trees, but it’s really not too bad,” said Farnham St. John, who works at Venture Sports in Avon. “There are some nice, open glades but a lot of it is very tight trees and downed logs. It’s not real steep.”St. John compared the portion of the mountain – which he accessed from Vail’s Skyline Lift – to Chair 5 at Vail. “It can be marginal, too, since it’s south-facing and gets sun-baked,” he said of Battle Mountain.Larson also made a Vail comparison, saying Battle Mountain’s Kiln Creek area is similar to Sun Up Bowl.”We’re working hard to not make it look contrived,” he said. “There are open, natural meadows we want to connect with other open areas, and the tree population up there is pretty healthy since it was logged 20 or 30 years ago.”Compared to The Yellowstone Club in Montana, a private ski area which, on a good day, may host 150 skiers, Larson said the goal at Battle Mountain will be have an area a little busier than that.”It’s important to energize the area with local access and traffic,” he said, adding that residents of Minturn and Red Cliff may be eligble for some kind of membership. “We want it to have the feeling of being busy without being crowded.”Vail, Colorado

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