The Edge

Winter Activity Guide

His friend Brian Schaefer, who runs the Hotel Durant in Aspen, agrees. "I love hiking the Highland Bowl," he says. "It's a half-hour hike to the summit. The snow is good. It doesn't get skied out very fast. It's steep, and it seems like you can always find a little stash of some good snow."

While Schaefer spends most of his time in the Highland Bowl, Scarth likes the backcountry, lift-accessible runs in the Maroon Bowl and Five Fingers Bowl, too.

Teaching is a weekend thing for Scarth. He wouldn't do it if he didn't enjoy being at Aspen Highlands. He likes that it's the least crowded of the four Aspen resorts, and that everybody gets along. There's no skier-versus-snowboarder friction — and there's definitely a party atmosphere that comes with being the locals' mountain.

In the springtime, people drink outside the Merry-Go-Round restaurant with their shirts off. "It's a wonderful spot, and if you've never been there, you should get there," he says.

General Information: www.aspensnowmass.com/highlands; 1-800-525-6200.

Location: 219 miles west of Denver via I-70 and Colo. Hwy. 82.

Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Snow Report: 1-970-925-1221.

Lift Rates: Adult day pass: $87.

Terrain: 1,010 skiable acres with 125 trails; 18 percent beginner, 30 percent intermediate, 16 percent advanced; 36 percent expert. The base is 8,040', with a 3,635' vertical rise; summit: 11,675'.

Cross-Country: Available.


Aspen Mountain

When he's not traveling the world competing and appearing in films, pro big-mountain skier Ted Davenport prefers Aspen Mountain's terrain to anything else in Colorado. The tree skiing is epic. "It's a real skiers' mountain because of the consistent long terrain," he says. "Five- to seven-minute, top-to-bottom absolute leg-burners with fresh tracks two thirds of the way, at least." Most of the terrain is intermediate to expert — and steep, with 3,000 feet of vertical rise.

In the late 1800s, Aspen Mountain was a mine and Aspen a mining town. That history contributes not only to the culture that Davenport enjoys in Aspen, but to the terrain itself. "The dirt and rock they dug out of the center of the mountain has formed these boulder-free ski trails where, when it snows, it's super-long pitches, with no risk of hitting anything because it's been so mined," he says. "Once the mining industry stopped and the skiing industry showed up, we reaped the benefits unknowingly."

Those benefits are most noticeable in The Dumps, which got its name because it's where all that dirt and rock was dumped — but it also seems to be where all the snow dumps. "On a good powder day, you get to the Dumps as quick as you can," Davenport insists. The best way to get there is to start at the Face of Bell Mountain, and then hop on Chair 6.

Davenport loves the Aspen vibe almost as much as he does the terrain. "We kind of are a little egotistical," he says of Aspen skiers. "We feel these ski areas are the best place in Colorado, bar none, because the ski area was built from out of the town as opposed to the town being built for the ski area. Aspen the town has been around for a hundred years. There's a lot of loyalty. It's a very special place to live."

General Information: www.aspensnowmass.com/aspenmountain; 1-800-525-6200.

Location: 219 miles west of Denver via I-70 and Colo. Hwy. 82.

Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Snow Report: 1-970-925-1221.

Lift Rates: Adult day pass: $87.

Terrain: 673 skiable acres with 76 trails; 48 percent intermediate; 26 percent advanced; 26 percent expert. The base is 7,945', with a 3,267' vertical rise; summit: 11,212'.

Cross-Country: Available.


Beaver Creek

Brian Hulick, a sales rep for Marker skis, has lived and skied in Colorado just about his whole life. After nine years on a freestyle mogul team in Steamboat, he moved to Avon and got to know Beaver Creek. He calls it the locals' jewel. "They have a lot of hidden gems," he says. "Nobody's there on the weekends. It's pretty much the place I go. The skiing's always good. Everything about Beaver Creek is pretty nice."

By everything, he means the couple of parks, with a good little half-pipe, and the hike-to terrain he frequents. The Grandpa Glades require "just a little bit of a hike, not too much" to get to a good stash of powder in the trees. "It's just a little bit steeper, untracked snow," he says.

The Y Chute is a more unknown area — but with a 40- to 45-minute hike to get there, it's much less accessible. "There's a little bit of avalanche slide [potential]," he says, "but it's not a super-long run-out. It's not something that would take you and carry you forever. If you're ever looking for some untracked snow, it's got it. It opens up and then narrows out. It's got some trees."

On the east side of the mountain is Stone Creek Chutes — an area that opened up to the public for the first time last season, but that locals had known about for years. "They're trying to open some more challenging terrain for people," Hulick says. "Stone Creek is short but sweet: narrower chutes, rock drops, lots of good trees, lots of aspen skiing. Since it's become open terrain, it's gotten skied out a little more, but if you get out there on a good, snowy day, you can find some tree runs that are probably some of the best on the mountain."

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