Vance's Cabin

Vance's Cabin is a 10th Mountain hut, is located near Tennessee Pass and the Ski Cooper Resort, between camp Hale and Leadville. There are three levels to the hut, a lower sleeping quarters, a middle common area, and a loft. The hut sleeps a total of sixteen people, ten in the lower area, and 6 in the loft.   The lower area suffers from a lack of heat, so I usually try to get the loft.  It's located in a wooded area, with an open field where it looks like they took the timber to build the hut.  For Skiing, you are going to either ski at the Resort, or head over to Chicago Ridge.

Start of the Hike to Vance's Cabin
There are a few ways to get up to Vance's Cabin: you can get to it from 10th Mountain Division Camp Hale, Ski Cooper, or as a hut to hut from Jackyl. The route I took was (of course) the simplest.  Starting at 10,400 feet and going as high as 11,000 feet, there is only about 600 vertical feet of elevation over three miles, with no significantly hard sections.

get ready to climb
The Ski Cooper Route to Vance's starts at the parking lot.  There are specific parking spots available on the south west side of the parking lot for 10th mountain hut trippers and the trail starts at the North East Corner of the Parking lot, to the left of the resort.  The trail head is easy to spot as there is a big red sign with the words "VANCE'S CABIN".  You start with a little descent, then follow a road on a low grade for a while.  You will come to another well made sign indicating the way to Vance's Cabin.

At this point, you will start heading up a valley, and the true start of the climb begins.  The trail is well marked, and it's mostly a nice hike up through the trees.  There are two pronounced uphill areas, but none that were a total struggle.  After the second uphill climb, which is noted by a switchback, you are at the highest point, and will traverse across the mountain on your way to the cabin.   You can relax at this point because the uphill is behind you!  You'll continue for close to a mile and then you will start to see a clearing.  The hut is located at the bottom of this clearing.  You will actually finish with a downhill ski into the hut, remember to watch out for powder patches!  I always forget about my pack and do a faceplant on my tele's!

One of the more interesting aspects of this particular hut, and it's hikes is the fact that you are on the same ground that the 10th mountain soldiers trained on.  While I described the easy route, I will be back and start from Camp Hale.

You will run across an interesting sign along the way:

The soldiers practices war scenarios in these exact locations.  I personally never have run across an aritifact, but I do spend some of my hike thinking about what that would have been like, hiking through these woods, with the sounds of explosions going on.  There is also a memorial located at the entrance to Ski Cooper, and is a nice tribute.