Okay, we need to start off by stating the obvious: Unless you're an expert skier, this adventure may not be for you. Nevertheless, we all need some sort of inspirational, adventurous, crazy idea once in a while, right?!
The Aspen Highlands Bowl is considered some of the most intense skiing in Colorado with 2,500 feet of vertical decent and pitches up to 48 degrees. Yeah, like I said. This rodeo's not for everyone.
Being able to ski or snowboard the Highland Bowl requires a good set of lungs and legs. Both will be burning! Accessing the 12,382-foot peak requires taking a couple of lifts from the base of Aspen Highlands Mountain (Exhibition, then Loge Peak), then some serious leg work (expect a 30-90-minute hike). Some parts of the day there's a snowcat you can catch that will cut the hike down by a third, but many of the locals consider that cheating (so, in other words, don't use it).
Hiking to the peak isn't necessary because the bowl offers various ski routes along the way, but reaching the summit is well worth the effort. Once at the top you'll enjoy 2,500 vertical feet of powder as you head down to the bottom of the Deep Temerity lift. That's what will take you back to the top of Aspen Highlands for another run.
If you're a skier, you'll probably want to use both arms to help pump your ass up the hill. Being able to strap your skis to a backpack or MacGyvering them to your body with straps is your best bet. Don't be a hero and try to carry them on your shoulder like a cool guy. It will suck.
While this may look like a giant open run, there are actually 18 official routes in the bowl, some more gnarlier than the others. Fun fact: the bowl only officially opened in 2002 and is regularly controlled for avalanches.
Yeah, you see these ropes?! They might help you from falling off the mountain and rolling off a cliff like a rogue boulder. Helpful (obvious tip): Bring water! It will be really cold out but you'll be exerting a lot of energy so just do it, okay? Plus you'll be at more than 12,000 feet in altitude and wishing for a cool glass of liquid courage (err..we mean water).
Listen to the signs and don't become a statistic.
Hiking the Highlands Bowl is an accomplishment. It's one of those adventures that all big mountain skiers do when visiting Aspen; it can be scary, tiring and rewarding all at the same time, but knowing you just climbed 800 vertical feet to the summit and skied to the bottom is a feeling you really can't recreate with a ski lift.
Earning the vertical is what really counts.
- Skis or snowboard equipment and accessories
- Straps or backpack to carry your skis or snowboard
- Aspen Highland Lift Ticket
- Small snack