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Hiking Aspen Highlands - Page 2

post #31 of 55
Well, Jim, glad to hear that business is good!

Btw, the boots are still just about perfect.

post #32 of 55

Hiked the Bowl last year on March 30, 2012.  The hike is not too demanding if you take your time and as others said be aware of others behind you.  I am pretty fit but March as probably the low point of my fitness and I didn't have a problem. It was my last of 8 days in a row, 5 at Steamboat and 3 at Aspen (Ajax, Snowmass and Highlands).  


I skied almost 33,000 ft the day before at Snowmass, but since I didn't know exactly what I was getting myself into I took it easy in the morning with longer rest than usual to keep my legs fresh.  It was warm last March so I waited until after lunch to be topped up with fuel and to make sure that the bowl had time to soften up after the thaw freeze cycle from the night before.


Bring water and make sure you get the strap for carrying you skis.


I took G-6.  Awesome run.


The view at the top was outstanding and you really feel like you are at the top of the world.  When you are at the top you can't see the drop in for the Gs so as you ski off to skiers right it is a bit unnerving even thought the pitch to get to the drop in is barely a blue.


You will not regret it.

post #33 of 55

i am a NZ er who learned to ski in Canada in the 1950's, so have seen the growth of skiing from a small cult sport to the current mass activity.


Hiking the Highland Bowl will give you the joy of 60 years of skiing in a couple of hours. It is a must do experience for anyone who considers themselves a skier.  

i persuaded my 65m year old wife and two other over sixty years olds to do it last year and all got a great sense of satisfaction.


You will get:-

A fun snow cat with an assorted group of very exited people.

A good hike, just put on foot in front of the other at a steady pace. Slow and steady rather than fast bursts and stops. Let faster people pas.

Stop at the top  take in the view and reflect on the life that allowed to get this. Standing at the top of the Highlands Bowl will be a pinnacle in many lives because they did not get carried to it they climbed to it. 


If it is going to be a oncer  take the route straight down the Bowl. If the ski patrol have opened the climb you will get to the bottom alive.

You will probably ski the whole gambit of ski conditions in the next ten minutes.

Hard wind scoured at the shoulder,

Reasonably soft base snow on entry to the Bowl,may be some powder.

Avalanche (bombed) rubble,gradually turning into normal pack.

Gradually increasing bumps as the Bowl narrows.


At the  bottom congratulate yourself on graduating to real skier ranks.


We are heading for Bogus Basin 7 and 8 Feb,  Sun Valley 10 to 15 Feb, then Snow 19 to 21. Any epic skiers want to share a few turns let me know.


post #34 of 55

Would love an update from the OP if possible!


And while we wait for that, any updates on the conditions with the recent snowfall?

post #35 of 55

+1 for elduderino's post.

post #36 of 55

Be interesting to hear what the OP did at Aspen Highlands.

Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

Highlands bowl, on a good day, is sublime.  To me it has always felt like skiing sacred ground, because there is nothing else like it (in bounds) anywhere in Colorado. 1400 vertical feet of sustained 35-45* pitch in a wide open, GIANT bowl is wonderful.

The Highlands Bowl is truly a special place. It's got to have the best view at the top of any ski area in the US.

The hike is more difficult than at Taos/Kachina Peak. The Bowl hike is almost pure climb, whereas at Kachina there's a stretch to put your skis on. ( I think the altitude at Taos is greater though)

You definitely don't want to hold your skis on your shoulder - get the sling from Ski Patrol or use a pack. I think cat tracks help also.


I don't know about "GIANT" bowl, it's big, but it feels strangely intimate. You have the choice of bowl skiing or paths between trees. Even the bowl is a little broken up - if you come down skiers right you can't always see the whole bowl. Regardless, on the way down you will have to focus on making the next turn so then the world is quite small.

When you get to the bottom, it compels you to pay your respects and leave. It's not really a place to hang out.

Overall, it's one of the finest places to ski in North America.


Here's a beautiful short film on the bowl. Too bad the quality of transfer isn't better. It seems worse than I remember, but our image standards have greatly increased in the last few years also.


video by SD Productions                                                                                    

post #37 of 55

^^^ It's interesting to see how much snow coverage there was in your video compared to when I was there last year.  The videos from this year show pretty spotty coverage as well.  I'm hoping the current storms can do something about that :-)


Still anxious to hear about the OP's adventures.

post #38 of 55
Do folks skin up or usually boot hike it....
post #39 of 55
Originally Posted by stomparound85 View Post

Do folks skin up or usually boot hike it....


Mandatory bootpack. Too steep for skins, and even if you could get skins to grab enough, at certain spots there is only enough width for the bootpack trail, and people would be PISSED at you destroying it.


Edit: I too am interested in whether or not the OP went for it, and if so, how it was.

post #40 of 55

Well the vast majority boot it up. I would have said it's too steep to skin, but shows how much I know since people do it.

There's now a team race that includes skinning up to the top of Highlands Bowl. March 2, 2013



Quote: from:

Sport Division Race Course:
Teams will start in Snowmass Village and skin up to the top of the Elk Camp Lift. Then racers will traverse from Elk Camp to West Buttermilk. Once at West Buttermilk, athletes ski down to the bottom of Tiehack. From there athletes will cross the bridge by the Aspen Recreation Center and head to Aspen Highlands Village. Skiers will then skin to the summit of the Highland Bowl and ski down to Castle Creek Road via the Congo Trail off of the Grand Reverse. Teams will then cross Castle Creek and head up Midnight Mine Road until they reach The Sundeck. In the final descent of the race, athletes will ski down Aspen Mountain, ending in gondola plaza.  -> stage 3 Aspen Highlands

post #41 of 55
post #42 of 55
There is a skin track is back up G zones. Some stay back there and don't use the lift to get back up.
Edited by SHREDHEAD - 1/29/13 at 6:51am
post #43 of 55
Some people skin just to the left of the bootpack after the rock outcropping with the rope line.
Edited by SHREDHEAD - 1/29/13 at 6:51am
post #44 of 55

ShredHead, how were conditions out there?  You just got back didn't you?

post #45 of 55

I skied till 1 yesterday and it was good and getting better. Skied Norway on the way home.   We've gotten about a foot in the last few days. 

Still thin in spots like Steeplechase, the Queen or the Headwall, but overall, I thought the skiing was good.

post #46 of 55

That's a good sign if Norway is open.

post #47 of 55

Ok, so i was flipping through some photos on the Aspen Times site and came across one of a guy hiking the Bowl on February 5th, 2013.  In the background there are pretty large areas of grass showing.  My question is how bad is the bowl right now?  Is it pretty thin?  How about other runs?




post #48 of 55

Probably one of the southern exposures? It's snowing right now.  The skiing is good, you'll be fine.   If know where to go, there's almost always good skiing in the bowl. 

post #49 of 55
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for the good replys. I went to aspen the last week of January and it hadn't snowed for 24 days. Snow conditions were sketchy at best. My ski buddy, that works at Snowmass, said conditions on the highlands were not good. Lots of exposed rocks and ice. He suggested we just stay at Snowmass. We did some short hikes there. They got 6 inches the last day I was there but it was wet heavy snow.

My sister in law works in Glenwood springs and is looking at buying a place in basalt so I will have plenty of chances to ski the highlands again when conditions are better.

We are headed to steamboat this week and they have been getting dumped on. Hopefully it keeps on snowing!
post #50 of 55

You say "If I know where to go."  I am thinking with my limited time in Aspen I may not.  Any suggestions?



post #51 of 55
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

I hiked the Highlands Bowl a few years ago when I was with the ESA Group.  I wasn't in the best conditions of my life but fit enough to not have my butt kicked.  


The good news is that you can stop at a few places on the hike to drop in, like Bud Heishman did with Bazzer and GWSkier.  This makes it doable if you aren't ready for the full hike. 


In the words of GW Skier - Lets Kick this Chicken!!!



Hey TC-- As I remember that day there were also lunchtime- uh- beverage- issues at play and you still pulled through all right! Of course I could be mistaken since I am only getting older and spend most of my time breathing Carbon Monoxide in hockey rinks instead of tripping to the mountains like I had planned to start doing two years ago...


From the ridge:


The path from out the back of the patrol station. (Am I really going to climb that?!) Definitely get the ski strap! Best souvenir ever!


From Aspen Mtn the day before (Am I really going to ski that?!)


And on a side note I remember the rest of Highlands as really really cool.

post #52 of 55

The beverage was helpful. biggrin.gif

post #53 of 55
Originally Posted by wiscoskier View Post

You say "If I know where to go."  I am thinking with my limited time in Aspen I may not.  Any suggestions?



Send me a pm with your cell# a couple of days prior to your arrival and I'll see if I can find you a guide or a least point you in the right direction.
post #54 of 55

Today, G8 seemed like a good place to go.


It was Gr8!



post #55 of 55
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Send me a pm with your cell# a couple of days prior to your arrival and I'll see if I can find you a guide or a least point you in the right direction.

A guide may be a little over kill as I will have the family in tow, but any info you can convey would be much appreciated.  Will get in touch if that is ok?  Probably around the 20th of March.



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