Friday, February 22, 2013

Thursday Snowmass Ski

I'm off for a few days to ski in Aspen, where I've been in the summer but never been to ski. I've been thinking of getting over here for three years, and even wasted a 4-pack of lift tickets last year (non-transferrable) since I never made it.

On my drive in to Aspen Mountain on Thursday morning, the traffic was a bit much, so I cut the drive short and skied Snowmass instead, which is out of town a bit. I got a parking spot in the garage with no problem (more on that at the end).

Not knowing the mountain that well, I decided to just mix it up. I started on the far left (looking up). That terrain was too easy, so I moved over to more difficult trails, ending finally at the High Alpine lift and its double blacks. A local recommended getting off the chair lift and hiking up to the left, so that's what I did, dropping through what was basically cliff bands on Headwall. After carefully navigating about 100 feet of rocks, it was all powder, some of which had apparently not been skied this season.

This is my second trip down, in a snow storm, below the rocks:

For me the upper part required single turn, stop, single turn stop. Then I could start linking turns near the trees. Pretty good depth here, maybe 15" to 20" in spots:

After the cliffs, there are various ways through the woods on rolling, steep terrain that seem to last forever. I meandered between Cassidy's and Willy's. On the map most of that is rated double black but below the wall, it's more like single. What a great time.

OK, maybe it's a little steep:

After a few trips down I tried another local's suggestion of Sneaky's Glades on the far right of the resort (looking up). Since it's easier, it was more skied out, but was still fun. I then took a left at Powderhorn, possibly the longest single trail I've ever skied. It descends almost the entire height of the resort along the northern boundary. Down, down, down, down into the valley.

Driving down from Snowmass Village:

So, the parking. I did a little research online before visiting, and the whole situation had not gelled completely. I'm a bit like Monk, in that I don't like crowds, or waiting or being subjected to other peoples' behavior for that matter, so I drove my car rather than using an RFTA bus. I was worried that the parking lots would be full, but they weren't. This isn't The Front Range, after all. I'm also finding that getting a one-day parking pass for residential areas is also a good idea, it's $8, and allows you to park all day anywhere in town that is outside the center commercial area. The downtown is within a short walk, so that's not a big deal.

After skiing two areas in Aspen (a post on Highlands is to follow), I can say that this area has more vertical drop than I'm used to skiing, and is pretty impressive. I ski at Mary Jane quite a bit, and this is definitely tougher regarding length. OK, maybe a toss-up.

Distance was 31.69 miles, time 4:39 (moving 3:31), elevation gain/loss 15,704 feet, avg. speed 6.8 mph, and max speed roughly 30 mph.


  1. Sumthin' sweet about that Colorado gray sky.

  2. Colorado not burning to the ground this spring is a good thing. So's the skiing.

  3. I've never skied Snowmass (well, I don't ski at all anymore); it definitely is gorgeous. Good tip about the parking, in case my boys go - they'd LOVE it there! Glad it was a fun day :).

  4. Been to Snowmass a couple times but those runs are above my pay grade.
    Enjoy Aspen -- "Mmmm, California....Beautiful!"
    I think you'd dig Highlands.

  5. and... my Highlands post is next.

  6. Mike - Heh. Driving to Aspen always makes me think of Dumb and Dumber. And I deleted my previous comment because I didn't even realize your audio clip was early in that movie! Hey, it's been a while.

    All I really remember is the fuzzy dog bus, the Moped ride, and Lauren Holly. Apparently it was more or less the same for Jim Carrey.

    Those trails are above my pay grade if we are to judge by skiing them WELL. But that doesn't stop me from trying, I figure that's how I will learn.