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ASPEN ” Aspen Highlands boasts 1,010 acres of terrain, including some of the area’s gnarliest steeps, not to mention hike-to Highland Bowl.

1,010 acres

11,675 ft. (top of Highland Bowl 12,392 ft.)

3,635 ft.

5 total: 3 high-speed quads; 2 triples

48 degrees, Go-Go Gully on Highland Bowl

Lifts open at 9 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m.






Steep, big-mountain skiing in Highland Bowl, Steeplechase; and Deception, Aces and 8’s on the Olympic Bowl side.

Aspen Highlands has added 220 acres over the last two seasons, all of which was either new runs or tree thinning in the Deep Temerity area, making for some of the most challenging terrain anywhere. The extended Mushroom trail is something of a tourist trap. It starts wide and tightens into monster moguls ” enter at your own risk. Highlights of the new terrain are in the area to skier’s right of the lower Highland Bowl boundary, which includes portions of the “R” Zones, Lower Child’s Play, Child’s Play Gully and Sleepy Hollow.

A solid top-to-bottom run that will leave you breathless starts at the top of Loge Peak. Hit Broadway to Hayden to Meadows, and then cut over to T-Lazy Catwalk, which leads to Golden Horn and Thunderbowl, where you can hit top speed in seconds. Other key cruisers are Apple Strudel and the Red Onion, which lead to Memory Lane and Park Avenue, and then to Upper Jerome and Jerome, located at the bottom of the mountain.

Highlands offers it all when it comes to bumps ” hit anything going into the Deep Temerity area and be ready for never-ending moguls on runs like Sodbuster, Garmisch and St. Moritz. For the truly crazy mogul enthusiasts, Mushroom should make even the hardiest skier consider a knee replacement.

Locals agree, there is no better place to be on a powder day than Highland Bowl. The run down Highland Peak (12,392 ft.) can cause uncontrollable laughter and immeasurable joy. You can catch a free snowcat ride to cut off 15 minutes of hiking. From the drop-off point, it’s anywhere from 30 minutes or more ” depending on your lung power ” to hike to the top. The north-facing G-zones offer some of Aspen’s lightest, fluffiest powder. It’s a workout that’s worth the effort. Since skiers can rarely get more than four or five laps in on the bowl, the skiing can stay great for two or three days after a dump. On the western side of the ski area, there’s plenty of steeps and powder in Olympic Bowl. Boomerang also is a local’s favorite.

If you want to catch some air at Highlands, try hitting the cornice at the top of the bowl or popping off one of the smaller cliffs. The whole area is a playground, just not the kind with rails and gap jumps.

You’ll be on Cloud Nine when you dine at 10,740 feet. The Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro serves gourmet meals with a European flair that includes venison ragout, pheasant breast, international wine, fine champagne and a full-service bar. Located in an old ski patrol building, lunch here is worth splurging on. But the old-school way of eating at Highlands is at the Merry Go Round, which offers cafeteria-style food and a killer chilled artichoke. The chef there is trying a more organic approach this year, offering plenty of locally-grown fare.

Opening day and closing day at Highlands, (Dec. 8 and April 6) are among the best days in the life of an Aspen ski bum. On-mountain costumes are nearly required and the base area becomes a big party. Other local parties such as Blitzenbanger, put on by local radio station KSPN, brings out more costumes, cocktails and characters.

The party always continues at the base of the mountain at ZG Grill. There, you can catch up with friends and meet new ones ” either indoors or at the best on-mountain outdoor patio there is. Another option is next door at the Ritz Carlton. Enjoy drinks on the patio and eat some of the best apres fare you can get mountainside.

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