After the holiday rush here at Ski Haus, I decided it was time to get out of the valley and ski a different resort on my Icon Pass. Aspen is only a 3 hour drive from steamboat, recently received 9 inches of snow, and has four ski mountains located within 10 minutes of one-another.
My plan was to ski Aspen Highlands one day and Aspen Snowmass the next. For skis, I brought my Black Crows Atris and my Rossingnol Black Ops 98 which provide me with the ability confidently ski any terrain I want.
The first day at Aspen Highland was filled with sunshine and 9” of leftover snow in select spots. This mountain is steep and offers everything from expert backcountry skiing to mellow groomers and just about everything in between. My main goal was to ski Highland Bowl which offers the terrain and atmosphere of out-of-bounds skiing without leaving the resort.
My weapon of choice was my Black Crows for their versatility in all conditions. I immediately took the several lifts necessary to reach the snow cat shuttle that brings skiers and riders to the start of the Highland Bowl bootpack. As I skied towards the snowcat shuttle it was just leaving so I decided it was faster to bootpack the 782 foot elevation gain and space myslef out from the crowds.
The bluebird day provided me with stunning views of the surrounding mountains including Maroon Bell and Pyramid as I hiked to the top of the bowl. The conditions were still soft and playful, even a full day after the 9” had fallen, as I charged down the open face.
One of my favorite parts of skiing Highland Bowl is the fact that you don’t have to hike out. After you hike to the top of Highland Bowl (12392’) bowl, you get to enjoy a 2500 foot long decent back to Deep Temerity Lift, which brings you back to the junction of the Highland Bowl snowcat shuttle and the rest of the mountain. The remainder of the day was spent cruising groomers and exploring the town of Aspen.
The next day was spent at Aspen Snowmass with more blue skies and total of two days since fresh snow.The mountain offers everything from big mountain expert terrain to mellow groomer runs and even a shopping mall complex at the base.Snowmass is MASSIVE, 3362 acres to be exact! (Steamboat is 2965 acres).
The highest point is accessed by a poma which brings skiers and riders above treeline to 12510 feet. From there, a large quantity of steep expert terrain littered with rocks, cliffs and eventually trees is available to skiers right.
I decided it would be ideal to ski my Rossignol Black Ops 98 for their superb performance on hardpack and natural snow that I anticipated skiing. From the steep natural terrain to wide rolling groomers littered with big pines, the Black Ops not only preformed but preformed well and left me smiling all day long.
While skiing the steep natural terrain, the softer tip and tail chewed through soft snow and crud while the stiffness underfoot kept me stable. On groomers, the Black Ops was fun and playful over the big rollers but still responsive enough to support aggressive carving between the spaced out trees. At the end of the day I left not only satisfied with the skiing but with the ski I had chosen to ski the diverse terrain.
In the steeps, the softer tip and tail chewed through soft snow and crud. On groomers, the Black Ops was fun and playful over the big rollers but still stiff enough to support aggressive carving between the spaced out trees. At the end of the day I left not only satisfied with the skiing but with the ski I had chosen to ski the diverse terrain.
It’s nice to have the ability to leave an awesome town like Steamboat Springs and go somewhere different in a matter of hours. The consistent steep terrain and unimaginably wide groomers paired with the ritzy feel of town make Aspen a special destination for all types of people. However, every time I travel home, I am excited to return to the quaint ski town of Steamboat Springs Colorado.