I don’t know how to start this post out…
How do you sum up a classic Colorado day of skiing? What words do you use to express the shear joy and enthusiasm you have simply for the love of skiing?
Simply put, today was great.
No, the conditions were not white room. The snow wasn’t pure smoke. What we did have was bluebird skies, temperatures in the mid 30’s and the shear dedication to charge and one of the best mountains around as our venue. Naturally, I’m talking about Aspen Highlands.
As you may all be aware, I’m here to cover the Apsen/Snowmass Open. However, today we had a qualifying day. In the industry, that is pretty much a day off. While most journalists would have enjoyed a morning between the sheets slamming the snooze button, I opted for the early rise in order to slay one of the most infamous mountains in the rockies. Aspen has seen record snowfall, the mountains are slammed with snow and I figured this was my opportunity to get in some turns at one of my favorite big mountain spots in the continental United States.
My day started at Buttermilk where the Aspen/Snowmass slopestyle quals were taking place. My original plan was to MC the event in Luke Van Valin’s absence. Thankfully, he was over his flu and took his rightful spot on the mic. This left me with the entire day to myself. After admiring the slopestyle course I hopped the nearest shuttle to Aspen Highlands in hopes of finding steep and deep powder.
Buttermilk looks good, but I think I’ll head to Highlands.
After taking the three chairlift rides, I finally reached the summit of Loge Peak where I was able to snag a cat to the base of the Highlands Bowl. For those of you that haven’t been here, Highlands Bowl is the real deal in skiing. You can get a true backcountry experience while staying in-bounds.
Thankfully, the cat only brings you to the base of the bowl. This separates the joey’s from the hardcore. Those unwilling to hike up can duck out and ski some decent terrain, while those willing to work can hike to the top of the Highlands Bowl for some of the best terrain in the continent.
The hike to the top takes around 35 minutes if you are in decent shape. Those lacking the endurance will be taking rest stops more often than others. Remember, you are above 12,000 feet and the air isn’t exactly abundant. Just know that once you reach the summit views like this await you. Trust me, whatever pain you are enduring it is completely worth it. The Maroon Bells are a sight to be seen.
Once you get to the top and regain your composure you have the Highlands Bowl awaiting you. With well over 1,000 feet of vertical and hundreds of routes down there is no way you can’t be excited. This is legit big mountain terrain with the safety of in-bounds skiing. Very few places can guarantee this kind of excitement and safety. Choose your drop and shred.
Did I mention it was steep?
Halfway down I stop to catch my breath and compose myself. I can hardly believe that it is 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon in Colorado and I’m still getting it without a swarm of crowds around me. Aspen is a magical place.
I finally make my way down to the base of the bowl. The adrenaline and excitement make me push on, however I realize that I must take a photo of what I just dropped. The terrain is legendary, the sun is shining and the sky is perfectly bluebird. There is nothing that can wipe the smile off of my face.
Thanks to the Deep Temerity lift, you can get more of the Highlands Bowl than ever before. At this point, my already weakened legs want nothing more than to enjoy the lift ride out of Temerity to the top of Loge Peak.
After realizing that I’m completely out of gas and that hiking the Highlands Bowl is completely out of the question I make my way to the base of Highlands. A place that is often completely ignored due to the shear intensity of its upper zones. At 2:00 we find fresh snow nearly 2 days after a storm. We take the trail sign’s suggestions, and we shred it!
Wow, we should have been here all day.
Pow slashes at 3:00 PM. Thanks, Aspen. Wait a minute, there is a slopestyle qualifier going on?
When it was all said and done, we had an amazing day. Where else can you find perfect groomers, fast lifts with no lines, an in bounds bowl with insane terrain and powder stashes a few days after a storm? Surely not in Summit County. What a great day off!
See you tomorrow from the Aspen/Snowmass Open!