Powder Posse hits the bowl

Maria Wimmer
On the Hill

On Thursday, the Aspen Highlands ski patrol held its first Powder Posse since 2010. Roughly 200 die-hard skiers and snowboarders showed up at the base of Highlands, which is slotted to open to the public Dec. 14. The premise of Powder Posse is to basically track up Highland Bowl with turns because so much snow has fallen that the ski patrol needs skiers to come through after it has boot-packed the bowl to keep avalanche danger low, a preventive measure.

With a beacon, a helmet and a signed waiver, you were able to ride the Exhibition and Loge chairlifts up to where the start of the hike begins. “I thought I was in shape,” is what I kept telling myself, but I guess at 11,000 feet your lungs will tell you different. Everything from Ozone through the G Zones was open, and the skiing frenzy was exciting. The patrol kept stating, “Thanks for coming out and helping.” Everyone’s response was “No — thank you.”

On my first lap, I hit Ozone, and it was glorious with a few face shots. I was hearing the whooping and hollering coming from the G’s, so I had to go back for more — it was my job. For the second lap, I got in the groove of hiking again in ski boots and felt I could go at my own pace. I didn’t have that guy doing his first bowl lap of the season hiking behind me. On the second lap, they were opening up the B’s, but I stuck to my original plan and hit up G3. With knee-deep powder, it was as good as anything I remember skiing last year, though I do have short legs and short-term memory loss.

While I was skiing down the front side at the end of the day with a friend, he mentioned that Highlands should be open because the conditions were great. Unless occupancy in Aspen skyrockets from this column, I don’t think Highlands will be opening early, unfortunately.

One of my favorite quotes of the year I heard last weekend was “Aspen, welcome to winter.” It truly has arrived — and early — and I couldn’t be more excited. A thank-you does go out to all the hardworking boot-packers and patrollers who made Thursday unforgettable.