How to Ski Aspen Highlands Ski Area
A Guide to Conquer Steep Terrain and Aspen Highlands Bowl
If you want to ski steep, and I mean steep (i.e. Not what Vail calls steep) then this is your mountain. The very shape of the mountain dictates the extreme nature of the skiing.
One sneaky secret on a powder day is to not go straight to the top, instead take the Thunderbowl lift up, there is usually almost no line and you can get one untracked run in in the time it would take to wait for the first round to get up Lodge. By the time you get back to the base you will have gotten in an amazing run and the initial crew will be up the hill.
At this point you will want to get up to the upper mountain as well, so head up () and get right on Lodge, you will get to preview Steeplechase towards the top of this lift and get a good idea of what lie ahead for the day, again did I mention steep, it is in the name after all. From the top of Lodge you can ski Kesslers, Steeplechase, and more on the Temerity side, super long and consistently steep with pockets of trees to drop into. At the bottom of this run is the Deep Temerity lift, it is a fixed grip chair but your legs will be happy to have the break.
Also from the top of Lodge you can access the Oly Bowl side of the mountain, again super steep technical terrain with even more gladed options. One of the things that this ridge line offers is the option to ski whichever side is wind loaded. Wind loading occurs in the mountains often, if the storm comes in from the south the the northern sides could get up to twice as much snow as the wind blows the snow over the ridge.
Most storms come in from the North, and as the Highlands Bowl faces Southeast it can get up to twice as much snow as reported at times. The patrol does not measure snow moved by the wind. After a few runs on Temerity it may be time to head into the Merry Go Round for lunch, and you will need the fuel if you are going to hike The Bowl.
Skiing Aspen Highlands Bowl is truly one of the most remarkable skiing experiences one can have. This starts with the monumental effort from the Highlands ski patrol and a group of hardworking locals who "Pack the Bowl". This team of professionals and extremely fit skiers literally walk over every inch of The Bowl, stomping each footstep to the ground and securing the base. Other wise the terrain would never be safe to ski. This work allows for you to ski terrain that would otherwise never be safe to ski. People who have spent thousands on heli-skiing in Canada and Alaska, who have caught a powder day at Highlands say it is unlike any ski experience they have ever had, simply because they you do not get to ski this kind of consistently steep terrain in the backcountry. But, the access to this terrain is guarded by a leg and lung busting hike up to over 12,000 feet. You can catch a snowcat for the first third of this, although no self respecting local would ever be caught dead on the snowcat, it is a matter of pride to earn these turns. In fact some enjoy the hike up as much as the ski down. For those who make this journey the suffering is eased by breathtaking views of Pyramid Peak and the Marron Bells, truly some of the most magnificent mountain in the U.S. Once on top, and after you have caught your breath and let the blood return to your legs, strap on your skis and get ready for one of the best runs of your life. There are so many options here we have a page dedicated to skiing The Bowl, click here to read more about skiing Aspen Highlands Bowl.
Once to the bottom you will access the Deep Temerity lift to get you back to the main part of the mountain. At this point you may be ready to hit Apres-ski and your legs will probably be cooked. We recommend taking the cat walk out to Thunderbowl, this wide open groomed run is the place to find your speed zone. Really there may be no where on the 4 mountains that make us the Aspen ski areas that are as steep and wide open as Thunderbowl, so turn up the throttle and let it loose as you role into the base and right into the hot tub!