Aspen High­lands

SKI - - WEST - —C.L.

With prepa­ra­tion and the right mind­set, hik­ing High­land Bowl isn’t as in­tim­i­dat­ing as it looks. Take the free snow­cat to shorten the hike. Bring a pack or buy a Bowl strap at patrol head­quar­ters to carry your skis. Pack lay­ers and hy­drate of­ten. Go to the top: Con­di­tions are more con­sis­tent from there and the photo op is a must. Your re­ward awaits.

If Aspen is the clas­sic skier’s moun­tain and Snow­mass has some­thing for ev­ery­one, Aspen High­lands—new to the Top 10—has be­come like the grand prize-wor­thy chal­lenge of an Aspen Snow­mass ski va­ca­tion. In­deed, stand­ing atop 12,392foot High­land Bowl af­ter the 700-ver­ti­cal-foot hike to the sum­mit, then ski­ing its nearly end­less 40-plus de­gree slopes make you feel like you de­serve some kind of medal—or at least, im­mense self-sat­is­fac­tion. “High­land Bowl is the best,” says one reader. “It makes ev­ery­thing all right in the world.” Speak­ing of chal­lenge (No. 4), High­lands also of­fers plenty of lift-served steep and deep, in­clud­ing the heart-skip­ping fall lines of Steeplechase, se­cret stashes in Oly Bowl, and the snow-mag­net glades of Deep Te­mer­ity. But “badass” doesn’t paint the full pic­ture. High­lands’ at-times un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated va­ri­ety (No. 6) in­cludes great learn­ing bumps, long, wide power-turn cruis­ers, and metic­u­lously groomed begin­ner runs. A chill lo­cal vibe and lack of crowds con­trib­ute to its char­ac­ter (No. 6), and while there’s “not much go­ing on at High­lands” com­pared to other base ar­eas, it does have the Cham­pagne-spray­ing, dance-in-your-ski-boots scene at Cloud Nine, “one of the most unique on-moun­tain din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.”

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