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Old 03-07-2011, 09:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Aspen: Last Minute Trip

Hi all been a bit of a lurker here for a bit and have a question. Headed to Aspen for my first time for 3 (maybe squeeze out a morning 4th) days of riding.

Anyway its been a bit for me in terms of consistent riding, been out 4 times this year locally(NJ/NY), have ridden real mountains (never Co though) but I am old (relatively speaking) now and on a pretty bum wheel (multiple surgeries on my right, aka back knee). Going on the trip with a group of skiers who are pretty good, 2 are very, very good.

Any suggestions on approach to trip? I know some parts of Ajax and Highlands are supposed to be really challenging… would you suggest I insist on hitting Snowmass up first, get the legs back before moving on? Any thoughts on conditions traditionally around St Patty’s day? Looks like a decent weather pattern is shaping up out in Co... hope it holds through mid month. Are there any areas to avoid with me being the lone boarder of the group (flats, cat tracks etc). Any other tips or warnings?
Assume Aspen is not a hard town to find a bar with some TVs, but with NCAAs going on, any recos on a spot with TVs, eats and good beers?

I know these types of posts are repetitive and Im doing research on my own, but any insight will be much appreciated. Really stoked for trip and completely committed to getting on the mountain a ton more next year.
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Snowmass is such a fun mountain, you should do it regardless! I wouldn't really worry about the fact that you've only been out a few times this year and this is your first time to Colorado. I'd never boarded before and I actually learned on Snowmass - not to mention I'm 28 and had my pelvis reconstructed when I was 25 after crushing it in a parachute accident, so if I can do it anyone can do it!

As far as night life, there is certainly no shortage but if you're looking for a super chill spot I suggest the Red Onion. They've got TV's at the bar, great pub food and cheap beer (relative to the rest of Aspen which is $$). I watched the Sugar Bowl there with some friends I made on the mountain and it was by far my favorite spot, just all around great vibe.

If you have some extra time I'd also recommend hitting up the hot springs in Glenwood Springs!
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Old 03-07-2011, 02:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I was there just over a month ago.

I rode Buttermilk and Highlands with my bf and his boy who lives and teaches at Buttermilk. We kind of had a personal guide for the day, so it was really rad. But both spots were awesome.

Buttermilk is smaller, but we rode a lot of trees. Don't know if I'd recommend that only because we had his friend taking us through spots where he knew there wasn't anything gruesome lurking under the snow.

Highlands was fun. Challenging, yes. We ducked a lot of ropes...

But if you go to Highlands, dip into Sherwood Forest. It had been skied out a bit when we rode it, but it had been skied into luge-like trails. Really fun.

There were some spots that flattened out, but my bf's buddy would just tell us to get some speed. If you ride Buttermilk, you can ride down and across this awesome bridge and then you walk a bit to get to Highlands. I have a flick... It was really sick.



Buttermilk we rode a lot of this:


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Old 03-07-2011, 09:01 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks both.. Buttermilk looks fun (great pics) but I have a feeling it might not be in the cards given the quick nature of the trip. Really pumped for Snowmass from all that I read, just excited overall to be west and riding again. The Red Onion sounds like a spot I would appreciate.

Has anyone here done the hike to ride Highland Bowl? If we get some snow I'm sure it would be something our group would be into doing.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Highland Bowl is rad. It's a medium sized hike. Takes around 30-45 minutes I believe. It's been awhile since I've hiked it, so my numbers could be off 10-15 minutes either side. This is if you are hiking without stopping to the top, which isn't that easy. There is a decent elevation gain from where the cat drops you off, and it is pretty much a knife ridge. On a powder day it's great without a doubt. Nice and steep with a constant angle.

Out of the four areas there, if conditions are decent, I'd stick with Snowmass and Highlands personally. If you want to do the downtown apres scene, than Ajax (Aspen Mountain) is hard to beat. You can ride down, cross the street and hit the bars in downtown Aspen.

To be honest, I'd skip Buttermilk unless you are going for park. The terrain is pretty "ho hum" while the other three areas have some very neat-o stuff to go shred.
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Old 03-08-2011, 12:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I considered myself an intermediate rider and had a good time at snowmass. I did not go to any of the other mountains. The nigth I arrived 14 inches fell..conditions were good. I had an offer from a local to show me highland bowl..didn't go because I thought it was over my head. The scene in aspen was pretty cool but pricey.
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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KY caught your trip post…Looks like it was a blast despite being a bit banged up. Thanks KillClimbz... think if we get some snow (fingers crossed) Highland will definitely be in the cards. I am a bit out of prime form but think I could handle it. Im sure I will need some rest after the hike though.

Given your feedback and what I have read I think we will probably be skipping Buttermilk, especially given my group is mostly skiers. I did just find out we are linking up with an old buddy who lives out in CO so I think we will at least have someone with a bit of knowledge about the mountain in the mix.

Think I am prepared for price shock as I lived in NYC for 10 years and work there now so I am all too familiar with absurdly priced things.
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Snowrock I am going to be out in Aspen the same time you are and I've been going for the past four years. Dont worry about conditions every year its been awesome especially coming from the eastcoast. You're right on about the mountains to hit Snowmass is HUGE and sooooo sick and you can spend all 4 days exploring it, not very many catracks at all but the ones the do have are clearly marked on trail maps. You'll have a blast, don't worry about being the only boarder, you'll do fine unless the hit the steeps beacause they are STEEP. Enjoy... see you on the hill
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks Rboz.. pretty pumped, this will be a long week (3 days) of work. Snowmass also reported 9 inches Saturday into Sunday out of nowhere and should be getting some snow tonight and again Wed/Thursday. Im sure I will enjoy it regardless.
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Old 03-30-2011, 02:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Just wanted to chirp back in since I got back from my trip, which was extended a day due to weather. It probably goes without saying but Aspen is a pretty sick place. Yes it obscenely priced, but I told my buddy I felt like it was taking a few blocks in SoHo and throwing them at the base of a mountain. Though not completely my scene.. it was a good time.

The riding was nice... as I said before I was the lone boarder of the group which isn't always the most fun but I managed. Snowmass got some decent snow the first night we got there. I only rode Ajax and Snowmass as we didn't venture to Highlands or Buttermilk. Snowmass is a monster of a mountain, lot of fun, lot of variety.

We did hit the Cirque Wall and found some great snow up there in the steeps.. aside from getting over there on my board and then getting to the lines my buddy's wanted to ski it was pretty sick up there. Mid mountain conditions were pretty rough though.. almost dare I say, east coast like. I also caught an edge on a traverse harder then I have in probably 15 years... which is always fun.

One lesson.. I will never fly in or out of Aspen airport again. The move to me definitely appears to be flying in to Eagle which even has direct flights from Newark and driving/shuttle to Aspen. That part of our trip was a disaster. Also looks like we missed a solid storm by a week which is always rough but oh well.

Thanks all for weighing on on tips. Now be on the look out for some gear Qs from me for next year as I need to upgrade for certain.
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