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. Continue reading
Patience is truly a virtue. That was never more evident than last Thursday’s powder day, when lots of us bowlers waited till about 1:00 for Highland Bowl to open.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
Early on Thursday morning it began; the beginning of what’s to become the 2nd largest 24 hr. snow accumulation in at least 18 years! Thursday’s “upside down powder day” started with a tough post-holing hike at the rope drop at 9:30 (this was the only guy in front of me) to discover about half a foot of the freshness in Highland Bowl. By afternoon, on my 3rd lap, it had plumped up to over a foot of light pow; just getting better and deeper as the snow storm named Maximus intensified.
Dropping into Child’s Play, I knew it would be worth the “power trudge” across the ridge top. It was. As you can see, the Northwoods was buttery and loading with more sweet cream by the minute. After laps 2 and 3 without crossing a track, I called it a sweet sleeper Thursday, with great skiing and only a few other locals in sight. Snowy, blowy weekdays are some of my favorite.
Friday would be a day of LEGEND. 21-24 inches was reported at Aspen Highlands in 24 hours. But, it had been snowing steadily since the 5:30 AM report. This was going to be EPIC. No, BIBLICAL! It would be like the parting of the red sea; except it would be the cutting of a massive snowy bowl instead!
After a (seemingly forever) delayed and much anticipated opening, the rope dropped around noon at Loge Peak and the charge began for some of the deepest powder skiing and riding of our lives! After some initial scrambling through dozens of frothing skiers & boarders, I’m in the front group for the second day in a row. This is awesome; I’m amped! But, this hiking shaped up to be much more brutal; deep snow to boot track and rabid powder hound paced; as fast as deep conditions allowed. And they didn’t allow much.
The hike across the knife edge ridge was one for the ages; up to my chest in spots, while hanging in the front group; about a dozen of us. My ridiculous run in virgin snow on G6 was more than worth it though; just surreal. Feeling the float and face shots forced my facial into an ear to ear smile followed by uncontrollable laughter.
At the bottom of the main face, in the runout, I turned to click this pic of friend Felicia, in motion and in full flotation!
Our buddy Scotty was next. I think. He’s in there somewhere, immersed in lower G6. Luckily, he popped back out with a heavily frosted beard and a seemingly frozen perma-grin. It’s a good look Scotty; a very good look this season!
Roostin’ it, a snowboarder surfs the deep pow on the edge of the run. I don’t know how many times I heard the ecstatic exclamation “Oh my God!”, but it may have been a record. I mean, I don’t think anyone could believe how deep it was; especially after our two and a half week mid-Jan. drought. This huge powder day was in our face; literally and figuratively!
Here’s another partial skier slicing through the light thickness, Or is it the thick lightness? Well, you catch my drift. The Runout Zone was even fun, with deep powder awaiting on the nice casual pitch.
“Riders on the Storm” is one of my favorite Doors tunes. Here’s a guy, riding the storm to lookers left of my tracks; some of the best turns I can ever remember feeling. That’s just it. The feeling a big powder day brings. It’s a type of euphoria that’s almost indescribable and highly addictive. Every turn serves up a kind of endorphin adrenalin cocktail of sorts that leaves us wanting; no needing more; more of this incredible floaty fluff that is nothing short of pure ecstasy.
Skiing down through the trees on my second lap (fifth in two days), there weren’t many people left to cut up the remaining lines. Apparently, there was a lot of “one and done”, between the demanding leg trashing hike & leg burning descent. But, I had to get at least one more run in; it’s frickin’ epic! Lap 2 offered super solitude and super nice knee deep powder in the thick fir and spruce of the Northwoods and down into G2; a perfect peaceful farewell to an amazing mind blowing day, from the crazy anticipation in the morning to complete fulfillment and exhaustion in the mid-afternoon. This was one of the those super special days in Highland Bowl; the Super Bowl before the Super Bowl!
On that note, Go Broncos! Make this weekend perfect boys!
On the way up the first chair; the Exhibition Lift, it’s cool to study the Highland Bowl map mounted on the crossbar. There will be a test later. Sunny skies & temps in the high 30’s greeted me at the crack of 11:00 AM this morning. Since we haven’t had snow for a week and a half, I think I’ll head for the G Zones (left on map). Maybe I’ll get lucky and find some nice chalky snow. Continue reading
After a very blustery Sunday, the cloud cover began to break mid-day today on “the stairway to heaven” with blue skies & winds to our west & a cloud clinging to Highland Bowl like a glorious cotton ball below us to the east. With 9 in. of new snow reported, this promised to be a sweet Monday adventure. Continue reading
It couldn’t have been a happier new year, as I hit Highland Bowl first thing on 1/1 to ring in 2014. The trudge up the steep pitch was still as steep as last year for some reason (pant, pant, pant). Cheers to better cardio fitness in ’14!