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Beginner/Intermediate Skiers: Skiing Aspen Highlands

Todd Hartley's picture

If you’ve spent any time in the Aspen area, you’re probably well aware of Aspen Highlands’ reputation as a mecca for expert skiers. The steep runs of Highland Bowl and Steeplechase are clearly the mountain’s public face, but there’s plenty of great terrain for intermediates and even beginners if you know where to look.

Beginning skiers will find a quartet of easy groomed runs emanating from the top of the Exhibition lift. Riverside Drive, Exhibition, Red Onion and Apple Strudel all offer gentle pitches with enough rollers and terrain features to keep them interesting.

Another option from the top of the Exhibition lift that allows beginners to experience more of the mountain is to follow Prospector to the T-Lazy-7 Catwalk. Take the catwalk out to the top of the Thunderbowl lift and head back left on a run called Cakewalk that will lead you down to Nugget and the lower reaches of Exhibition and Red Onion.

All of the beginner trails in the midmountain area will eventually bring you to Park Avenue, a road that cuts across the hill past the steeper terrain at the bottom of the mountain. To get down, follow Park Avenue all the way across to Smuggler, a wide-open run that will bring you back to the Base Village.

Intermediate skiers should start the day by riding the Exhibition lift and then following Red Onion to the Cloud Nine chair. From the top of Cloud Nine, you can access a plethora of blue runs that will bring you right back to the lift or the Merry-Go-Round restaurant. Upper Robinson’s, Pyramid Park, Grand Prix and Gunbarrel are all fun cruisers that get groomed on a regular basis. Check the grooming report in the morning to see which ones will have fresh corduroy.

If you’re tired of groomers and want to experience one of the area’s most famous mogul trails, be sure to try your luck on Scarlett’s Run, also accessed from the top of the Cloud Nine lift. Scarlett’s, the former home of the long-running “Freestyle Fridays” mogul competition, will give you a chance to strut your stuff in full view of the crowds at the Merry-Go-Round.

Once you’ve tackled the aforementioned runs, ride the Loge Peak chair to the top of the mountain and take a run down Broadway, with the intimidating pitches of Steeplechase falling away to your right. From the bottom of Broadway, Hayden, Meadows and Kandahar serve up wide-open slopes with some great rolling terrain.

To reach the bottom while avoiding the beginner trails, cut left under the bottom of the Cloud Nine chair and take a trip down Memory Lane. This run, a former lift line for a long-gone Poma lift, is a narrow track through the trees with banked sides and a handful of steeper pitches. Memory Lane spills out onto Park Avenue, which will lead you to the wide-open slopes of Jerome and Smuggler.

Before you call it a day, though, be sure to ride the Thunderbowl lift and take a run on Golden Horn and Thunderbowl. These broad, relatively steep cruisers are frequently used as a race course, so let your skis run and try to imagine yourself in an Olympic downhill.