Skiing Aspen Highlands

To the talented, athletic expert skier Aspen Highlands is a gift from the skiing gods. From afar this mountain appears so steep is almost looks to daunting to ski. Rising steeply for over 3,500 feet to its pinnacle at what may be the best ski experience in Colorado “Highlands Bowl”.

Aspen Highlands, know as Highlands to locals is best known for steep big mountain skiing, when departing the top of Loge Peak chairlift the first thing you will notice is the stunning views to the south of Aspen Mountain, Hayden Peak and the Castle Creek Valley, to the North the breathtaking Maroon Bells. Then as you begin to ski you navigate a ridge about fifty feet wide with double black terrain dropping off either side. Take your pick, to your right you have the steeps of Temerity and Steeplechase, aptly named, and to your left you have Olympic Bowl, every bit steep and deep!

As if the lift served terrain were not enough Highlands is home to the Highlands Bowl, the crown jewel of Aspen Highlands. Accessed only by hiking from the top of Loge Peak chair, although a snow cat can cut the distance by a third. This hike too terrain is home to the most consistently steep terrain in Colorado. The fact that the majority of The Bowl faces northeast keeps the snow light fluffy, and the fact that it requires a level of fitness to get there keeps it untracked. Opening The Bowl requires a monumental man effort that starts as early October with the high mountains first snowfall. In order for terrain this consistently steep to be opened for inbounds skiing requires every square inch to be bootpacked. This means teams of volunteers (working for a ski pass) and the Highlands ski patrol walk up and down hundreds of times, secured with ropes and harnesses in case of avalanche. It is grueling work, but that is what it takes to open up this kind of terrain. The Highlands ski patrol monitors the Bowl and conducts avalanche control for skier safety during the season, and when it is deemed safe after a storm you can expect overhead blower snow on the best terrain you have eve skied. The best snow to be found is in the north-facing G-Zones (“G” corresponds to green ski wax, for the coldest temperature snow). The B-Zones (for blue wax) face east and descend down the center of the bowl from the 12,382 ft (3,774 m) summit of Highland Peak. The new Deep Temerity chair awaits you at the bottom to take you back up to the top of Loge Peak where if your legs are up for it you can do it all again. In fact some locals love the hike as much as the ski down!

Maybe your ready for some lunch, there is of course a great cafeteria at mid mountain but if you want to experience a one of a kind mountain dining event, stop into Cloud Nine Bistro, but get ready for so much fun you spend the rest of the afternoon partying with a hundred of your new best friends!

While we are talking about having a good time, I think we mentioned Highlands is the local’s favorite mountain, and when it closes in April it has a legendary closing day party, something that has to be experienced to fully appreciate.

So check out Highlands for another epic, uncrowded day of expert skiing and take your skiing to the next level.