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Snowmass OR Aspen Highlands? Can't do both...

gregnye

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Yes, I know that this site is for skiing in the Northeast, but yet I need your help. I am taking a trip out west and am staying in Silverthorne/Dillon Colorado and skiing various mountains within a 2.5 hour driving time. I am willing to take one day trip out to the city of Aspen to ski.

I need your opinion. Which one is better, Aspen Highlands or Snowmass Mountain? All the websites online say to "make sure to hit both" but obviously I can't do that because I only have one day.

NOTE: I will NOT be going to Aspen Mountain/Bell mountain (aka the one with the silverqueen gondola). So keep in mind that the choice is between Highlands and Snowmass.

(They should really name all these mountains something completely different---too many things are named "Aspen"!)
 

AdironRider

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I prefer Highlands to Snowmass, especially if you plan on doing any hike to terrain.
 

SnowRock

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What you are looking for? The expert terrain at highlands is pretty amazing if you are going to hike the bowl, and while the lower mountain is a ton of fun.. you probably have more variety at Snowmass if groomers and less steep is your thing. You also have steep there with Hanging Valley and Cirque. Highlands is a pretty amazing place and definitely the more "core" of the group and can be quieter.
 

deadheadskier

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Hanging Valley and the Cirque definitely have some great terrain. My only gripe with either are the run outs and having to take multiple lifts to get back up to either area. They're certainly easier to lap then Highland Bowl, but the other advanced terrain at Highlands in Deep Temerty, Steeple Chase, Olympic Bowl ect., are a bit more user friendly.
 

SnowRock

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Hanging Valley and the Cirque definitely have some great terrain. My only gripe with either are the run outs and having to take multiple lifts to get back up to either area. They're certainly easier to lap then Highland Bowl, but the other advanced terrain at Highlands in Deep Temerty, Steeple Chase, Olympic Bowl ect., are a bit more user friendly.

Great point.. both my trips have been with all skier groups and me as a lone boarder so I feel that pain!!
 

gregnye

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Ok, so I am going with people who will probably not want to hike. Is Aspen Highlands still better in this case? Or is snowmass? Thanks for your input so far!
 

FRITOLAYGUY

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ive skied snowmass its huge something for everybody, intermediates will love it, havent been to highlands but if most of you are expert skiers even without hiking you will probably prefer that instead.
 

deadheadskier

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Ok, so I am going with people who will probably not want to hike. Is Aspen Highlands still better in this case? Or is snowmass? Thanks for your input so far!

Keep in mind the 1st part of the hike (at least when I was there 10 years ago) a snowcat takes you out to the base of the ridge. From there you can start skiing within a very short distance if you want. Took me about 40 minutes to reach the top of the Bowl, but I was stopping to take pictures.

In general I think Highlands is the best of the areas in Aspen. Much smaller than Snowmass, but everything is solid pitch and easy to lap. Snowmass you do a lot of traversing, taking run outs and taking multiple lifts to move around.
 

SnowRock

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Keep in mind the 1st part of the hike (at least when I was there 10 years ago) a snowcat takes you out to the base of the ridge. From there you can start skiing within a very short distance if you want. Took me about 40 minutes to reach the top of the Bowl, but I was stopping to take pictures.

In general I think Highlands is the best of the areas in Aspen. Much smaller than Snowmass, but everything is solid pitch and easy to lap. Snowmass you do a lot of traversing, taking run outs and taking multiple lifts to move around.

Still the case.. The cat cuts off about 15 minutes or so of the hike. Depending upon fitness level, from the cat its usually 30-45 minutes. There are goods to be head shortly after you start the trek up <5 minutes. Highlands is efficient, 3 of 5 lifts are HSQs, good lay out, 2 lifts to the top (outside of the bowl). With one day you will be able to enjoy a good chunk of the mountain if you want. Snowmass is huge and spread out and with that you have the problems of a mountain that size (especially if you don't know your way around). Can't go wrong with any of them (including Ajax IMO).
 

gregnye

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Ok, so thanks for all your suggestions so far, however I need to consider one more thing. How does the trail ratings here compare? Aka, I am a black diamond skier out west at every mountain except for Breckenridge (their rating system is a little off).

I need to know which mountain an advanced skier would be most comfterable at aka black diamond. (double black looks over-my head).

Would you still recommend Highlands? or snowmass? or should I go to Aspen (bell mountain) Thanks!

(my ski trip is in 2 days btw! soo excited!)
 

deadheadskier

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I haven't skied the Upper Peak 8 reaches at Breck such as the Lake Chutes, but I'd say that the Black Diamond terrain at Ajax and Highlands is pretty comparable to the Black Diamond terrain at Breck. Snowmass has a lot more tame advanced terrain and lots of it, but they do have some real deal no fall, mandatory huck terrain in the Cirque and Hanging Valley Wall areas.

Snowmass is definitely a great mountain. Anyone can have a good time there. Based upon your query, I think Snowmass might be the better option for you, especially if those you are skiing with would find the Blacks at Breckenridge very challenging.
 
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snoseek

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I agree, go to Snowmass. Highlands is in a different leauge as far as challenge, Snowmass has terrain for everyone and tons of it
 

abc

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For a "single black skier", Snowmass wins.

Highland is a lot more serious. Smaller too. So if you're not into hiking and don't feel comfortable with some of the double black, it starts to feel small. Snowmass has more variety so you can find what you like and lap it over and over skiing a different line.
 
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FRITOLAYGUY

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Based upon your query, I think Snowmass might be the better option for you, especially if those you are skiing with would find the Blacks at Breckenridge very challenging.

I took that the other way as breckenridge ratings are off being that their blues etc off peaks 7 and 8 are almost greens and most blacks are blues at other resorts out west.
 

deadheadskier

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Guess I'm just thinking more of the stuff off the back of peak 9 or skiers right out on peak 10. If the op found those areas difficult than they'd find highlands blacks even more challenging
 

gregnye

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I took that the other way as breckenridge ratings are off being that their blues etc off peaks 7 and 8 are almost greens and most blacks are blues at other resorts out west.
Yah, that is what I meant. Most of the ratings at Breckenridge are down by one level. Blues are greens, Blacks are blues, and double blacks (imperial bowl) are single-blacks.

Therefore it seems (from what y'all wrote here) that the Snowmass trail rating system is more normal out west (the same as like Vail and Copper) and therefore I would be better off at snowmass.

Is this correct?


Thanks very much for your help!
 

abc

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Keep in mind "trail challenge level" is condition dependent.

With a few inches of fresh snow, a lot of the double blacks can be enjoyed, albeit carefully, by people who're comfortable in average blacks. But if it hadn't snowed for a few days, moguls will grow and the double black will be nothing but misery!
 
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