The Bowl Blog: Bowl rats unite!

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There’s an underground culture in Highland Bowl that some may not be aware of as they make their merry way into the bowl for a hiking and riding adventure. Some call ‘em bowl rats. My buddy “K Dunk” qualifies, as the bowl is his regular weekly haunt. And with today’s mid-winter powder conditions, who can blame him? A frozen “ratty beard” also gives the bowl rat away.

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This local dude is one rad rodent!  John “Smag man” hikes & skis the bowl every chance he gets. A true bowl rat; he logs in as many laps as his legs will carry him each week. Cardio-fitness off the charts & a calm coolness marks the Highland Bowl rat. Bowl rats make April powder days like today happen, further separating them from your average pack of powder hounds; many of which are already burned out for the season. Did I just write that?

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You dirty rat! You just poached my line buddy! Hey, that’s what friends are for, jumping your sweet untracked line; like this one in G6 a few hours ago. With colder temps last night, the snow came in nice and wintry and light; more like a mid-Feb. pow day, with boot to shin high fluff.

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Last Friday brought bluebird conditions, after a few days of snowfall. On that note, I think it’s snowed every week but 2-3 this season! Although I didn’t recognize this guy as a bowl rat, he kept up a solid pace.  We were the first to hit the bowl after the rope drop at the top of Loge Peak! It’s the same feeling I used to get before coming downstairs on Christmas morning; pure unadulterated anticipation of pure fun to come! Some things never change; thankfully.

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Why do rats race across the hike for fresh powder? I think this pic speaks for itself; a heavenly powder line down G6. Bowl rats know about the rewards of the 30-60 min. hike, without (ever!) riding in the bowlcat, which cheats the first part of the hike. A purist approach reigns. Avoidance & even disdain of the bowlcat is a common thread of the authentic rat. I say to each his own. I also say that riding the cat doesn’t get one more fit.

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Fresh snow & Noxzema container blue skies? That can only mean one thing for the loyalist; riding the bowl! Looking up from the run out zone is one of the most awesome sights in skiing. The warmer sunshine last Friday made for slightly heavier “spingy” snow. But, the 7 in. reported skied really nicely at the lofty heights of the bowl. Fat skis also helped float this rat.

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Last lap of the day and the clouds are back! G4 was calling my name. I replied in the affirmative and felt the float. There’s something about the float that well, floats my boat!

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Highland Bowl has many moods, often changing on a dime. Fortunately, she’s been in a darn good mood overall this season! Whether you’re a regular bowl rat or it’s your first venture into the bowl, be ready for all kinds of weather and conditions. Do your own pace on the hike and bring some water. Then, get ready to float like a rat!

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About Erik Skarvan

After vacationing in Aspen with my family in the 70s, I made one of my best life decisions and moved here in 1982 on my 21st birthday. As a hotel/restaurant major, I worked local hotels, including the famous Sardy House (4 star Victorian B & B hotel) for over 12 years. I took time off to bike race full time, then embarked on a career in health and fitness, which I've been able to enjoy for over 18 years now with locals and guests from around the world. I founded Sun Dog Athletics "Aspen's Adventure Sports School" in '96 & innovated numerous adventure sports programs, including Fat Biking this past year. More at www.sundogathletics.com. I'm not that guy who skis 3 hrs. a day every day. But, I am that guy who gets in Highland Bowl 3 days a week, hiking and skiing it till my legs fall off! I love the incredible skiing, solitude, escape and spectacular beauty. It's a great pleasure and honor to share that through The Bowl Blog each week!