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Highlands ski patrollers

Aspen Times Staff Report

We’ve all heard the story about the cows in the corn, but what about the cows in the bowl – Highland Bowl?

Four head of cattle were hanging out on the grassy slopes of Aspen Highlands Ski Area all summer and didn’t see fit to come down once the snow started flying.

The mountain cows were living off hay that was spread last spring on the Highland Bowl catwalk when conditions got sketchy, according to Highlands Ski Patrol Director Mac Smith.

Some members of the patrol found themselves pressed into service as cowboys when they reported for work this week. Smith said the roundup wasn’t all that easy because these weren’t fat, happy cows that come running when the food pail comes out. These bovines were skittish and in excellent shape.

The cows came from a gentlemen’s ranch in the Castle Creek Valley and had permission to graze at Highlands in the summer. The gentlemen enlisted the help of a real rancher from downvalley to help bring them down. The real rancher brought some herding dogs, but they were hampered by the deep snow.

That’s when the call came out to the cavalry, in this case the patrol. Six members helped chase the cattle down, said Smith. Men and beasts were heading down some of the steepest slopes at Highlands in the chase.

“Those boys were tired out,” Smith said of his crew.

The patrol director was so impressed with the mountaineering skills of the cattle that he’s plotting ways to use them in Highlands’ boot-packing program to stabilize snow on steep slopes next season.


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