I stood at the top of G6, on the colder, shaded side of Highland Bowl today, with "Thomas," my 12 year old student. "What's that!?" he shouted, and I turned around to see what seemed like half of The Bowl cut loose and tumble to the bottom in a massive wet-snow avalanche. It was spooky--nearly silent, very fast, for several seconds, and then it oozed slowly for another minute or so, traveling probably a thousand feet down the center of the Bowl from two small release points high in the northern "B" zones.
These two pictures really fail to show the magnitude of this slide, but click on the images for the full-size versions and zoom in. It was huge!
I approached a ski patroller at the bottom of the steeper section of The Bowl. He was confident that they had no reason to believe that anyone was caught in the slide, and from my vantage point at the top of G6 (top left in the second image), it did not appear that there was anyone involved. Fortunately. We watched as Highlands' patrol and famed avalanche dogs scoured the debris, just in case.
Although I cannot confirm this--will probably come out in tomorrow's news--the rumor is that this slide was caused by a couple people who had cut under the closure ropes at the top of the B-Zones. I'm told that the Patrol caught the offenders, who could easily have cost a number of people their lives. There was (obviously) a very good reason those runs were closed, after several days of unseasonably warm, sunny days and not-too-cold nights.
Folks, please enjoy these spectacular mountains, but heed the Patrol's closures. Highlands' patrol is the best in the business, and when they close a run, there is a reason. If the rumor is true, I hope these idiots are invited never to show their faces again at Aspen Highlands--if not jailed for such irresponsible behavior.