Tag Archives: Aspen Highlands

Snow

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Last week, I sent a heartfelt note to all of our groomers thanking them for their incredible work on the mountain.  While we had a great start to the year, it’s no secret that the jet stream  pounding the Northeast has been taking the moisture that normally hits our mountains and sending it up and around to Boston!  Despite that fact, our cat drivers have been working their magic, keeping our slopes in pristine condition with freshly groomed soft snow every day and mother nature has provided plenty of sunshine.  The patrol has done an incredible job keeping all of our steep terrain open and ensuring we could all enjoy the chalky soft, smooth snow that covered our expert trails, which would have been impossible to access without their hard work packing, shoveling and even blowing snow into the entry points.

With all of these blue skies and beautiful weather, I can barely walk down the street without someone complimenting me on the team’s fine work.  I of course give recognition where it’s due and that is the point of sharing this with all of you.  Our on-mountain crews have really shown their commitment, skill, and dedication to the skiing and riding experience through this dry spell.  My hat is off to all of you.

I wanted to make this point now, because the forecasters are seeing a major shift in the jet stream and the weather has already begun to change.  This week has been quite cold and we received 5 inches of snow on Tuesday, and up to a foot is forecast for the weekend.  Even more encouraging is the news from our friends at aspenweather.net, who say that the ridge aloft will move out to 140W, by the middle of next week.  In layman’s terms this means big snow for the second half of the winter.  I don’t know about you, but that news makes me want to stand up and scream “Bring it on!”  I’ll see you out there, or not, because I’ll be in a few of my secret spots lapping up fresh tracks…

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Mike Kaplan
President & CEO | Aspen Skiing Company
P: 970-300-7102 | F: 970-300-7110
www.aspensnowmass.com
Snowmass | Aspen Mountain | Aspen Highlands | Buttermilk
Aspen Skiing Company was named one of Outside Magazine’s top 100 “Best Places to Work” for 2014

Merry Go Round at Aspen Highlands

If you live in the Roaring Fork Valley, you have good reason to consider Wednesday your favorite day of the week. Starting tomorrow (January 14), Aspen Snowmass will once again be having a local’s appreciation day every Wednesday at Aspen Highlands, which includes such Hump Day bennies as free parking at the base, and lunch and beer specials at the Merry-Go-Round.

But here’s the best part: even if you aren’t a local, no one cares. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the perks of “the local’s mountain” on Hump Day (local’s can simply enjoy it every week because, well, they live here).

Last week was a dry run for the festivities at Merry-Go-Round, and being the resident foodie, I felt it was my obligation to head up the Exhibition Lift shortly after 9am, burn through as many groomers as I could (you know: to work up an appetite), and offer a taste test of the Hump Day Grill which they set up on the patio.

Here’s what my investigation turned up:

Golden Horn and Thunderbowl: Still Untouched at 10am

Gunbarrel run at Aspen Highlands

At 9:40am, there were only two sets of tracks on Gunbarrel below the Cloud Nine lift.

I was celebrating Hump Day by taking it easy a bit, so groomers were the order of the day. After a few warm-up runs off of Cloud Nine, I worked my way over to Golden Horn and Thunderbowl. It had been two days since the last snow, and I was still finding fresh places to turn at the top of Golden Horn Woods and even when I cut over to Limelight near the base. Look: free parking is nice, but finding stashes days after a storm is the really reason to hit up Aspen Highlands.

Brats + Sunshine & Beer = Appreciation

Tommy Knocker Brat at Merry-Go-Round, Aspen Highlands

The Tommy Knocker Ale Bratwurst at Merry-Go-Round. Not pictured: beer to wash it down.

At lunch, I went over to the Merry-Go-Round where they had set up an outdoor grilling station for the day’s Hump Day special.

Each week they will be changing up the special, but you can always expect that (a) it’ll be grilled, (b) it’ll be $8 for a main and two sides, and (c) there will be $4 beers to wash it all down.

Last Wednesday, they were offering a choice between Kielbasa, a Tommy Knocker Ale Bratwurst, or a more traditional Pork Bratwurst, each served on a pretzel bun. And of course — this being Aspen Snowmass — there was even a mustard menu. I went half-and-half: whole grain on one side, truffle mustard on the other.

The Merry-Go-Round terrace is perfectly positioned to absorb the sun rays at that hour. A catnap just about happened.

A Glass of Red at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

There isn’t really a lunch hour at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro; it stretches from noon until the lifts close. This Swiss-inspired restaurant — which doles out pots of fondue and raclette — has long been a hot spot for locals and out-of-towners alike, who often order bottles of Veuve Clicquot and by 2pm, start dancing on the tables.

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, Aspen Highlands

The place to be in the afternoon on Hump Day (or any day for that matter).

I was more interested in a glass of wine and the lounge chairs on the deck, which takes in a stellar view of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells.

Wine at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

Opening a bottle of Beaujolais Cru at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, because, why not?

As an avid wine drinker, one thing I appreciate about the on-mountain restaurants here is the well-curated wine lists, even by the glass. As I bellied up to the ice bar, I expected to find the usual suspects: a Napa Cab, a Sonoma Chard, maybe a Super Tuscan if I was lucky.

But instead, they were offering a handful of under-the-radar gems: an Oregon Pinot Noir from Domaine Serene, a Nebbiolo Langhe from Barbaresco producer De Forville, and even a Morgon, one of the top Crus of Beaujolais. It was like hearing a bunch of B-sides on the stereo instead of the greatest hits.

I noticed the Morgon was unopened. “No one is drinking the Beaujolais Cru yet?” I asked.

“Nope,” the bartender noted. Then he smiled: “Let’s open it.”

Such is the spirit of afternoons at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro.

Pizza at Elk Camp, Snowmass

panini at elk campSome days, an hour-long lunch just doesn’t feel right. All morning long you’ve been skiing in choice conditions, and despite your grumbling stomach, you just want to keep going. Continue reading

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The second weekend of Bud Light Spring Jam kicked off Friday with the Banked Slalom event on Sandy Park in Snowmass. The weekend continued Friday evening at the Bud Light Hi-Fi Core Party with a highly energetic and dynamic performance by Beats Antique in downtown Aspen. The spring fun carried on at Aspen Highlands today with the Helly Hansen Battle in the Bowls race under sunny spring skies. Continue reading

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Since I usually work weekends, Mondays are often days to explore Highland Bowl for the goods. Sometimes I get the weekend warriors’ leftovers & sometime I get to indulge in a freshly prepared entree. Fortunately, today was the latter; a delicious new layer of snow to indulge in and not too many others to share it with throughout the morning.

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Completely awesome views of Pyramid Peak (left) & the Maroon Bells never cease to amaze me! At over 14,000 ft high, they are sensational sentinels, perpetually watching over the valley.

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Another view from Highland Peak revealed the bad; a massive avalanche path in the Five Fingers area. The avalanche rating has been “Considerable” to “Extreme” in the backcountry since the last storm system passed through the area. That’s just another great reason to stay inbounds, where the terrain is controlled like Highland Bowl. One can get the steep, riding 40-50 degree slopes from 12,400 ft. over 2500 vertical feet and the deep; made possible by the bowl’s lofty heights & east facing exposure. That’s plenty of goods for this dude!

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There was a beautiful top layer of 1-2 inches of nice dry chalky snow in the entrance to G3 & into the evergreens that dot the run. I shot a few happy campers swooshing by. Shhhhh, shhhh, shhhhhhh was the sound of the softness coming from their skis.

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This is some really nice skiing; softness on a Monday with not too many folks around. Time to drop in and enjoy the goodness; gorgeous mid-season snow!

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I took one last glance over my shoulder after my second lap. G2 was skiing sweet, with fresh pow almost filling in the troughs between bumps. I hadn’t seen a soul in over ten minutes; just what I needed to start my week. Just what I need all the time.

I’m one grateful guy & looking forward to some more R & D (researching snow & developing a great attitude) later this week! Stay tuned for more fresh images & the real deal low down in the next edition of The Bowl Blog!

Photo by Jeremy Swanson

The first Colorado Junior Freeride competition at Aspen/Snowmass went down yesterday in the Y Zones of the Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands.

The competition was scheduled to happen Saturday, February 8 but due to snow and low visibility, the event was rescheduled for Sunday, February 9.  Yesterday’s conditions were snowy yet visibility was good. Due to ample snowfall, the course couldn’t have been better for a freeride competition. Continue reading