Author Archives: Bobby Schafer

About Bobby Schafer

My first introduction to skiing was at a little mom and pop ski area tucked into a small corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. This was my second year of college. After graduation with a couple of bachelor degrees firmly in hand, I would regularly find myself daydreaming at work of being the next Scot Schmidt or Glen Plake. After a year of working a 'real job', I had had enough and decided to pull the pin and find a ski resort where I could ski every day. I sold everything I owned, loaded my favorite K2 TNC's on the roof rack and started driving my old Cherokee towards the Rockies. I had no idea where I would end up and after a month of driving around, I found Aspen. I've now surpassed my 20th year here in the Roaring Fork Valley and still love this place as much as I did on day 1. I had a good run as I was able to figure out how to ski 5 to 6 days a week by working evenings. I did that for 17 years. Things have changed a bit now as I have a family and priorities change. I'm currently on the mountain a few days a week with one of them dedicated to skiing with my five year old son. With so much time on our four mountains in the last 20 years, I would like to share my knowledge and insight with you as you plan your ski trip to our mountains. I hope you can ski vicariously through my camera lens and enjoy Aspen/Snowmass as much as I do.

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I was so tired after yesterday’s powder day that I could only muster the energy for a four finger  Martini for dinner with a marathon of Gilligan’s Island thrown in for the evening’s entertainment.  My body and brain hurt from so many top to bottom laps.  It snowed throughout the day and the sun finally tried to peek out around 2pm.  I started my day with the usual zero lift line 8:55am jump on an empty gondola car to get to the top of Aspen Mountain.

My M.O. today was to try and ski some of the lesser known spots around the hill to keep it interesting.  In addition, I thought I would see if some of the areas that need larger amounts of snow are ready to ski yet.  Here is my tale of the three hour tour.

DSCN0304First run, a tree stash that I must have skied by 1000 times over the years before I peeked in one day and found that’s it’s really fun in here.  I don’t even know what this is called but it’s located to the skiers left of Midnight at the bottom of Buckhorn.  Here is a shot of the entrance.  Notice it follows the power lines for a bit.  You can break off at any point in here and take it all the way down to Pump House.

DSCN0305Here is the spacing of the trees.  Of note, NO TRACKS!  The pitch is real gentle as well.  You really can’t get into too much trouble in here.

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Hey, what are those tracks leading to?  Check it out.

DSCN0326Why it’s this little chute in the trees.  It’s a tad narrow and steep, but how are you going to get better if you don’t give it a whirl?

DSCN0319Here is another tree run on the Ruthies side.  This entrance is located just skiers right of Aztec.  It’s a cut in the trees three feet wide and now that you’re reading this, you may be able to find it.

DSCN0315Third run of the day.  A newer area to the skiers left of the upper entrance to Kristies.  The entrance is called Hidden Treasure but once inside you’ll find runs named Black Mamba and Cobra.  I tried to capture the very steep pitch but was unable to.

DSCN0314Here is a side shot in Cobra. 

DSCN0318Fourth top to bottom took me down Jackpot.  That’s the Dumps in the background.

DSCN0330I can’t forget about showing you Cone Dump.  Once again, rarely opened but some of the best skiing in the valley when patrol drops the rope in here.  The sign says it’s only opened on the best days for a backcountry like experience. Keep in mind once it’s been chewed up, the patrol shuts it down.  Keep your eyes peeled on the board up top for openings.

DSCN0329Another shot of lower Cone 2.  That’s the bottom of Nose of Bell in the background.

 

Now I’m off to bed to dream about Mary Ann….or maybe Ginger….stay tuned.

BBB

 

 

 

 

 

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Today had promise and was shaping up to be a spectacular powder day.  There were several inches of new snow on the ground this morning but as the gondola edged higher and higher up the mountain, it became clear the wind had a different story to tell.  In fact, it was so windy it was really putting a hamper on the powder skiing.  Visibility was poor, even in the trees, and the wind was taking away all the fresh powder.  I did ski some runs up top but it became clear early on that the best skiing was mid and low mountain today. Continue reading

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If your sitting there reading my blog thinking that it can’t possibly be snowing again…I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I’m talking nonsense.  Since my blogs last week, we’ve had a couple of days of clouds and flurries but it’s been snowing for 3 days now and Ullr is back in earnest giving us the business.  It snowed another 6 inches or so overnight and today we were treated with yet another powder day.  I headed for the hill and at 9am there weren’t to many lingering soles at the gondie.  I jumped right on and got whisked to the top in a scant 17 minutes.  As it was a smidge cold this morning, I headed for the steeps wanting to warm up as fast as possible.  First up, a newer tree run to the skiers left of Kristi.  Once a patrol stash, it’s now open to regular plebes given you have the skills to negotiate the terrain. Continue reading

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Yesterday will go down in the Aspen annals as one of the biggest one day dumps since the silver mines were shuttered and Fred Willoughby built the first boat tow ski lift on top of Aspen Street.  With over two feet on the ground in one day, last night we saw another 8″ to make it even better.  On another note, the temps last night dropped and the cold really squeezed the moisture out of the snow making it truly blower cold smoke today.  When I arrived at the gondie at 9:30am, there was no line and I jumped right on.  The day started out windy and snowing but as the morning went on, the sun came out and with sight came vision.  It was terrific to be able to see the entire mountain and how good it really was.  The last three days I’ve stuck to the trees and the sides in order to see and with the sun..well, you know.

DSCN0124I didn’t start taking photos until the sun came out.  Here is a little stash right next to Chair 6 in the trees.  Yes, it’s as good as it looks.

DSCN0116I took several runs down the Ridge of Bell and Back of Bell.  Check out a series of pics from the spine.  Here I am in Back of Bell 2.

DSCN0113More Ridge of Bell on the spine.

DSCN0111Yea, we could use a little more.

DSCN0110Getting ready to drop into Keith Glen on Back of Bell.  I took this down to the Elvis road and then descended right under the gondie on the Ridge to Copper. Notice the amateur with the camera creating a shadow at the bottom of the pic.

DSCN0120Standing on the Ridge looking up towards the top of Aspen Mountain.

DSCN0109More obscene ski porn on the Ridge.  It was so good up there, I can’t remember how many laps I did.

 

The mountain was fairly empty today and I never waited in one lift line.   I skied all over searching for the best snow on the hill.  I found two places I couldn’t believe were still untouched.  First surprise was Super 8 to the skiers right of the gully.  I had to rub my eyes as if it were a mirage.  Not one track in there after two days of snow.  Man was that deep.  The second area that wasn’t as much of a surprise were the rarely opened Cone Dumps.  I entered Cone 1 and found myself salivating over Cone 2.  Both were epic runs towards the end of my day.  After 4 hours on the hill, my legs were shattered and it was time to call it before I wrecked myself.

DSCN0127Super 8 towards the end of my day.  This area stays in the shadows almost all day this time of year.  I elected to take a photo of the left side and town as opposed to the more attractive right side where there were few if any tracks.

DSCN0131Cone Dumps.  If you can get in there when it’s opened…this may be the best skiing on all four of Aspen’s ski areas.

Stay tuned for more later….over and out. BBB

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Extra, extra read all about it. In case you missed the teletype and the frantic Morse code that went out, we just got a powder dump that we haven’t seen since Madonna was a virgin.  If you also missed every weather forecast for our area in the last three days let me sum it up.  Yesterday we received 24 inches in 24 hours! Today we probably got another 8 inches or so and as of this writing, it’s still pounding out and we’re supposed to get another 6-12 inches tonight.  How does that translate to today’s skiing experience….get a load of this.

DSCN0088A little tree shot that I tried really hard to show just how much snow there was today.  This shot still doesn’t do justice to how deep it was today. The snow depth here came to my thighs!  I’m 6’4″!

I rolled up to the gondie just before 9am this morning and I was greeted to the largest line I’ve seen since opening day.  It stretched down the stairs and to the street.  I was surprised by the number of people in line.  Actually, I wasn’t, as this was the biggest powder day we’ve had in a long time.  To put this one day dump into perspective, I’ve been here 20 years and would put this in the top 5 of biggest days I can recall.  And I haven’t missed to many big days.  The line went fairly quickly and once up top, everyone spread out and normal service was resumed.

DSCN0084The skiing today was challenging and not for the reasons you would expect.  The hardest part of today was getting to the steep runs.  There was so much snow on the flats that you had to break through 3 feet of pow just to get to the good stuff.  To put this much snow into perspective, Pump House didn’t have enough pitch!  I had to ski straight down and not make a turn to get to Tortilla Flats.

DSCN0082The bottom of Summit around noon.  Pretty cut up but that was ok as it didn’t have enough pitch keep your speed.  Check out the sides of the run.  Deep.

DSCN0093Face of Bell.  Earlier in the day when this was untracked, you could just point your skis towards Spar and barely make a turn.  Face shots all the way down.

DSCN0079Looking up towards Ruthies about ready to go down Spring Pitch.

DSCN0092More Face of Bell.  Notice the poor visibility.  That’s because it’s still snowing so hard you can barely see your hand in front of your face.

DSCN0087More porn.

DSCN0075Even more gratuitous shots of our snowfall.

Today was one of those days we rarely see as we do get pretty good dumps but not at this level.  Keep in mind this is Colorado dry powder and not that nonsense they get in the Sierra or out East.  Usually the moisture gets squeezed out once it hits the Wasatch range in Utah and we will get a good parade of several snow days in the 6 – 10 inch range. However, every now and then we get one of these whoppers.  Tomorrow should be another truly outrageous day and I will be there with my Polaroid camera and flash bulbs to capture the action.  Stay tuned.

Over and out, BBB

 

 

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When I went to bed last night it was supposed to start blizzarding around midnight.  According to some of my friends who get up at ungodly hours to plow snow, it wasn’t even snowing at 3am.  When I got up this morning to find around 6 inches on the driveway of my secret lair, I was giddy with anticipation of what was to come high up on the mountain.  Keep in mind we haven’t had nary a snowflake in the air for a fortnight, so everyone was really looking forward to some new fresh pow.

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If you peek into the slot that used to be the old lift line between Reardon’s and Roch’s, this is what you’ll see.  Rarely skied but always a tricky double fall line treat hidden in plain sight.

DSCN0065Standing midway down SilverQueen.  I haven’t been in here too much this year but as you can see, it’s in really good shape.

 

Today I was supposed to train for an upcoming race this Saturday but promptly blew that off for powder instead.  I think tomorrow will get the same treatment because as I’m writing this, it’s totally pounding snow outside to the tune of an inch an hour.  The weather forecast is calling for at least a foot tonight.  I don’t think they’re pulling our chains because this afternoon there was at least a foot on the ground that wasn’t there this morning.

DSCN0055I skied some of my favorite hidy-holes today.  Here’s one in the trees just off the front side road to Face of Bell.  That single track you see before you is mine and it was so good I came back for another about two hours later and guess what….that was still the only track in there.

 

Speaking of crowds, or lack thereof I should say; today I had Aspen Mountain all to myself.  It was a ghost town and I was still getting untouched snow at noon!

DSCN0061Face of Bell.

DSCN0072Dumps.  I think this is Last Dollar.  I took this around 1pm and it was really starting to get deep at this point of the day.  I wish I had more in my legs as the mountain was really skiing well as the afternoon went on.

DSCN0054This is a pic of my first run today. One of the groomers under Chair 3.  As you can see, the visibility is still fairly good and there was a few inches to start the day.  Right after I took this, the heavens opened up and Ullr commenced making product.

DSCN0047I took this leaning out the window of the gondie.  This is a shot of the upper mountain late morning.

Check back tomorrow for more as I’m dropping my son off at Grandma’s so Daddy can get some face shots!  Over and out.

 

 

 

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We’re right in the middle of race season here in Aspen.  There is a long running town race series that has race divisions for everyone from ex world cup racers all the way down to families and kids.  Most of the races are either Slalom or Giant Slalom as well as a Super G and Downhill in February.  Anyone can come out to the Highlands on Saturdays, throw down your ducketts and race on Thunderbowl.  It’s a bit more of a course than NASTAR and the gate sets are usually by ex world cuppers.  It’s fast, fun and a good way to build those free skiing skills.

Today I had a slalom training day in the morning then I broke out my fatties for a free ski on Highlands.  It was a crisp gorgeous bluebird day and the hill was void of people to get in the way.  I skied everything from Steeplechase to Apple Strudel today.  Check out some pics.

IMG_2556Getting ready to drop into Steeplechase.  This portion is called Garmish and it was a tad firm today.  A decent edge was needed to get purchase on the snow.

IMG_2560Here I am on Face of Oly.  That’s the top of the Cloud 9 lift foreground and in the background is the Cloud 9 restaurant.  If you’ve never been there, you have to check it out.  One of the best ‘hidden’ restaurants on our 4 mountains.  Pardon the lousy out of focus photo, my camera was in my pocket and the lens was fogged up from skiing so hard.

IMG_2551More blue cruisers please!

IMG_2544Look at that.  Buddah!

IMG_2555This is the top of the Loge Peak lift as you get off.   Yes, that’s the infamous Highland Bowl in the background.  If you keep skiing straight at this point, you’ll end up at the snowcat that cuts off a few minutes of hiking.  The rest have to be done the hard way all the way up to 11,000+ feet in altitude.  The hike takes place along the ridge line in the background. Check out Erik’s Bowl Blog for more.

IMG_2559Here’s some beginner bumps under the Loge Peak chair.  These are nice to start out on as they have little pitch and are perfectly shaped.

Tomorrow I’m skiing with my four year old then taking in some X Games.  Saturday is race day.  Check back for more this week.

That’s all for today, I’m out.

 

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When people see me on the mountain they’re always asking about new runs or mountains.  I’m always trying to get people over to Aspen Highlands.  However, one of the most common things I hear about the Highlands is ‘it’s too hard for me’.  They’ll say, ‘I think I’ll head to Snowmass instead’.  Oh, but you would be making a very big mistake.

DSCN0026Standing at the bottom of Mouse Trap just under the Loge Peak chair.  This is the main way down if you’re not heading to the bowl or down Steeplechase.

So, I was at the Highlands doing gate training this week for an upcoming race this weekend and had a few moments for a few free skiing runs.  Thanks to locals like Eric and his Bowl Blog, there is that side of the hill the locals rave about.  The ‘Highlands Bowl’ that is hike to only, Steeplechase and the Oly side.  All worthy opponents if you’re in the upper 20% of skiers with the ability to really enjoy these runs. If you’re like a large majority of skiers, you’ll take your cruisers and nice long groomers on a crisp sunny day and be very happy.  Here are some photos of my favorite Highlands blue cruiser runs.

DSCN0019Meadows ski run under Loge Peak lift.  Taken at 11am.  Anyone, anyone, Bueller?

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Almost to the top of the Exhibition Lift.  Merry Go Round restaurant is to the right of the water shack.

DSCN0031Taken at noon in Thunderbowl.  Yes, corduroy at noon!

DSCN0029More mid mountain blue intermediate runs.  I think this is Kandahar.

DSCN0006Taken from the Exhibition chair.  This is the bottom of Nugget.

As you can see, there are copious amounts of nice wide open blue cruisers at Highlands.  Next time someone asks you to head over and explore, remember, there are plenty of runs that you can have fun on.

Over and out, BBB

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OK , here we go with more skiing photos and diatribe from the bald one as only I can give.  I know you’ve been emailing and wanting the Local’s Lowdown to return and alas, here you go!

IMG_2434It will be fairly simple to bring you up to speed since opening day.  Ullr has blessed the Roaring Fork Valley this year and has unleashed his full fury on us since mid-November.  It’s been steadily snowing since.  We had a tremendous opening weekend with several feet of new snow adding an already expanding base.

IMG_2446I’ll try to bring you up to speed with a collage of photos from the last month.  As the adage goes, pictures are worth…way more than I could put into words.

IMG_2429 Under the Gondie heading to Pussyfoot.  Now for some powder day shots….

IMG_2414Behind Bonnies on Aspen Mountain.  Both sets of tracks are mine.  No one else wanted any part of this run that morning.

IMG_2422Christmas Tree on Back of Bell, Aspen

IMG_2417Face of Bell.  On opening day there was so much snow in here you didn’t even have to avoid the rocks in the usual spots.

IMG_2410Gretel’s run.  I was essentially by myself on this morning.  I think I took this after the mountain had been open for an hour or so.  Yes, even you, can get freshies like this if you get to the hill at opening bell.

IMG_2409I can’t even remember where this is but look at how sweet this untracked field of pow looks.  That’s a good problem to have if it’s so good you can’t even remember runs this good.

Stay tuned for more.  It’s currently dumping at my secret lair and has been all day.  Tomorrow should be a genuinely good day.