The Sweet Goodness of Aspen Highlands

Post by blogger | December 24, 2008      

We’re getting nuked here in Colorado. Our dry spell is a distant memory. More snow is piled up around our house here in the “downvalley banana belt” than I think I’ve ever seen. But the avy danger is too high for my taste, what with two recent deaths in this region — and just a few days ago a snowcat tour client being partially buried on a mellow slope. Sure, we’ve been getting our stashes of low angled backcountry fluff. But knowing that the inbounds pow stashes of Aspen Highlands were prime, we headed up there yesterday. Result, face shots on an untracked line in Highland bowl, with desert being a series of virgin pow stashes on the lower mountain.

Aspen Highlands powder skiing.

Louie gets some sweet goodness in the trees, Aspen Highlands.

Aspen Highlands powder skiing.

Yes, we did hike. What would a day of skiing be without some human powered vert? I mean, I'd loose my reputation if I didn't at least climb some stairs.

Aspen Highlands powder skiing

I had to laugh. The nukage even caught Aspen Skiing Company with their pants down. Somehow the shuttle parking and turnaround didn't get plowed, so the clients had to play tow truck if they wanted to ski. Less injuries that way as all skiers get a warm-up before they hit the slopes. I hear they'll be implementing this procedure at Whistler as well. And yep, that's a BD Alias Avalung pack Louie is wearing, which is a good thing as you never know what could happen when pushing shuttle buses.



11 Responses to “The Sweet Goodness of Aspen Highlands”

  1. powderjunky December 24th, 2008 12:16 pm

    Highlands bowl is about as legit as it gets!

  2. AK Jack December 24th, 2008 12:10 pm

    Skiing in-bounds is allowed when the conditions warrant – like when face shots are there! And when backcountry exceeds your risk tolerance. Is it not wild snow if it falls inbounds? There’s a lot to be said for skiing in a controlled area.

  3. ScottN December 24th, 2008 3:01 pm

    Right on Lou ! We’re spending Xmas in the Bay Area. Drove over the Sierras yesterday. There seems to be very little snow up there, but I’m sure that will change. Stopped at Boreal Ski Area on the way, mainly to take a break from all the 18-wheelers dodging in and out of traffic on the climb up. I’ll try to spread the Wildsnow message out here. Enjoy the pow !

  4. Adam December 24th, 2008 3:16 pm

    Lou, what day was this? Today? I ask because I was there yesterday and I never saw the bowl open. Epic pow everywhere else, though! I left around 1:30 so I was just curious if the bowl ever opened.

  5. Njord December 24th, 2008 4:51 pm

    The Bowl went around 1 or so… Seemed like the stuff below tree line was lighter (no wind packing). Another great (inbounds) day!

  6. Lou December 24th, 2008 5:11 pm

    Yesterday, F8 and be there, as the old school photogs used to say, or was that F11? MK?

    They dropped more ropes today, on that shot looker’s left of B1 (or in our family parlance, B1 = Lou’s Ride.)

    It was epic of course. Best day of my life and all that (grin).

  7. GeorgeT December 24th, 2008 6:31 pm

    Father + Son + Epic Pow @ Highlands = Heaven on Earth…Amen

  8. Alexander Putz December 24th, 2008 11:33 pm

    what were you skiing at Highlands? The 178 Manaslu you’ve been testing? I took out that ski at Highlands today, only later in the day, on Oly bowl. Setup with Dynafit Rental Bindings and Dynafit Zzero 4 MF. Seemed to be fine for a ski this light, thought it would make a great BC ski – the boots gave enough control for this ski. That’s what I’m looking for – strictly BC setup, for here and the dream of traversing the Swiss Alps by ski and rail… 😉
    Current alpine setup is Mantra in 184 – great ski esp. in the bowl like today. Wondering: 1. if I should consider the 187 length for the Manaslu (more float, better at higher speeds ?), 2. How much difference btw. the Zzero 4 U and the Green Machine in ski control (down)? 3: is the FT12 binding torsionally stiffer than the regular FT? 4. alternate ski consideration (weight/ float) is the k2 Mt. Baker Superlight 181cm. comparo?
    My weight is about 175 (no gear or clothes), height is 6″. Like to ski fast and medium-long turns. Good skier. Marker alpine bindings set at 9 DIN, Ute City Cycles set the FT rental at 10 (or close to it).
    Alex, Carbondale

  9. Lou December 25th, 2008 8:20 am

    Alex, yeah, I was on the 178 Manaslu. It works amazingly well in my opinion. For lots of laps at the resort I’d eventually rather be on an alpine boot and perhaps an even bigger ski, but it got me the goods. For a strictly BC setup it’s easily one of the best. — if not the go-to backcountry plank for any region with less than ideal soft snow conditions. I’m also a fan of Goode’s mix of performance and weight, but their skis are way too expensive for something that gets beat up. That is unless you can find a great deal on some.

    I wouldn’t know about the 187 Manaslu. You’d better go try it. But with your weight and style I’ll bet it would work great. This year’s Green Machine has plastic on top of the tongue instead of carbon, thus eliminating some of the difference between it and other models. Not a big deal, but if you’ve got a high instep the original carbon tongue does hold it’s shape better when crushed down by the buckle. The Zzero 4 U is easily just as stiff as it’s made from PU plastic, probably stiffer (depending on definitions). I’d think if you were running a longer ski at higher speeds you’d want a bit more boot than the Green Machine. I love them, but I don’t push on the downhill and want the boot that does the most both UP and down.

    As for the FT12 being more torsionally stiff than the ST, no, it’s not. Both bindings are incredibly stiff, just beautifully so. In fact, a little known thing about Dynafit is that once you get on the binding you don’t need quite as much boot. The difference in “wobble” between Dynafit and many other bindings is remarkable. This is simply the result of the binding toe pinning the boot, steel on steel. The only thing the Dynafit lacks is much vertical elasticity in the heel release mechanism. I’ve found that all this requires is that I take more care with exactly what DIN setting I’m using, but it’s something to remember for you dyna-newbies, especially if you’re on bigger boots and skis that transmit bigger shock loads to the binder.

    As for Baker and Manaslu, I’ve found I like the Baker a bit better on hardpack, but that could be because of tune or mounting position. And in the spring I like a really short ski that carries easily on my backpack, and the Baker doesn’t have the extra tip/tail length of the Manaslu so it’s shorter for about the same running length. Both skis are great backcountry planks in my opinion. (Remember that I consider weight to be a big part of the performance equation when I rate skis for backcountry use.)

  10. Alexander Putz December 25th, 2008 10:12 am

    Hi Lou,

    thanks so much for the great and detailed answer! And yes, weight importance is understood – I did read a lot of your blogs, and the Manaslu felt incredibly light, and I skied/ skinned on Nordica TR9’s with silvretta bindings 15 years ago… (never again!!).. and on a burton splitboard as well
    So I take it that I’d be fine with the regular FT – or should I go to the FT12 due to the FT rentals having been set at 10 (didn’t release yesterday)?
    Thanks again!

  11. Lou December 25th, 2008 11:21 am

    I’d try the ST.

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