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Aspen Side/Backcountry partner & Highland Bowl question?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm heading to Aspen from Wednesday, March 16th - Sunday, March 27th.  i'll be cruising with my wife for the first three days, but she heads home after that and I'd love to ski some side/backcountry.


About me: 43 year old - usually ski Kirkwood at Tahoe, but travel to ski a fair amount.  Have skied backcountry in the Alps as well as around Tahoe.  Have a relatively light dynafit setup and a reasonable understanding of snow/avalanche dangers, but no formal training (it's definitely on the list).  I'm fit and reasonably risk adverse, only going backcountry with guides or partners with good knowledge of the area (thus my desire to find a partner for this time).


If anyone is going to be out and about next week and would like some company, I'd love to get after it!


Stupid Highland Bowl questions: is it ok solo, or only safe with transponder and partner?  I assume it's 100% hiked, not skinned?


Finally, any recommendations for a backcountry guide?  If I cannot find any partners, I'll likely hire for one day to hike something remote and interesting.




[Mod note: Moved to Getting Together.]

post #2 of 7

Hi onnel - I haven't hiked Highland Bowl myself, but was with a bunch of folks that did early this year. No skinning is required, and it is avalanche controlled, so no one took a beacon or other avy equipment either. These threads may help :






post #3 of 7

What dbostedo  said.  It is a well traveled boot-pack and is inbounds and patrolled.  About 800' elevation gain on the hike, but Highlands runs a snowcat that will run you up the first bit.

post #4 of 7

Hiking the bowl solo is fine.  I'd stick to the major runs and don't go billy goating into thick timber.

Wednesdays they have a free bowl tour.


Aspen Expeditions is in the Highlands base village and is a pretty good operation.

Dicks the owner and of the guides I know, I like Amos, Bob and Peter.



Aspen Mountain and Highlands both have beacon basins for practice.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info, all!  Getting out in the backcountry with the friend of my usual climbing partner tomorrow, so that will be nice.


If anyone's around next week and wants to get after it, let me know!

post #6 of 7

How did it go?

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

It was brilliant all around!  Skied 10 out of 11 days I was there.


The first few days were blue skies and snow refreshed only a day before.  My wife (hadn't skied in 25 years) came for these.  She dislikes the cold and was mainly just coming to see Colorado and spend time together, but she took an all day lesson at Buttermilks the first day and had a blast (was skiing mostly parallel already!).  The next day, skied together at Snowmass and had a great time.  She's looking forward to more skiing next year.  I don't think she'll ever be more than a 5 day/year skier, but it's still a huge success!


Right after she left, we got a few big dumps, including one amazing day I spent at Highland (skiing with a good friend of my main climbing partner) and his friend.  We hiked the bowl twice (second time in white out conditions) and just had an amazing day in general.  I certainly see why everyone loves Colorado powder!


I also got in to the backcountry one day and spent a morning chasing another friend (semi-serious racer) around Snowmass.  She skied so fast, I could only watch her feet and body and just had to follow.  Brilliant fun!


Buttermilk - Perfect for beginners


Snowmass - Great for intermediates.  I felt like the offpiste expert terrain was a bit lacking (this coming from Kirkwood, Tahoe as my usual resort).  That said, I skied here the most (5 days) and skied the same lines a fair number of times, but definitely wasn't bored.


Highland - Awesome offpiste.  Gotta love the bowl!


Aspen - Mostly skied groomers (really nice) as offpiste was mostly bumped out.  That said, lots of nice bumps and great fun following a friend of a friend through the trees.  It seems like it's a report most enjoyed by those who know it well.


We also genuinely enjoyed the area.  While Aspen is certainly infected with a certain amount of wealth/celebrity (one of the guys I skied with flies in on his own private jet), there's also a nice "normal person" community.  We'll definitely be back!

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