Skiing Aspen Highlands and Finding the Hidden ‘Après Ski Club’

Submitted by Alec Stowell on Mon, 01/06/2020 - 11:06

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Loge Peak - Alec Stowell 

By Alec Stowell

Shortly before the new year, I got the opportunity to ski at Aspen Highlands – one of the four Aspen Snowmass ski areas. Some locals say it’s their favorite due to the abundance of powder they tend to get by mid-season. I had grown up skiing at Snowmass and Buttermilk, but this was my first go-round at this location, and it was absolutely gorgeous.

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Aspen Highlands - Alec Stowell 

Being that it was right after Christmas and I was spending time with family, I went with my brother and uncle. We went up on a morning that at first looked like we were in for a low visibility and frigidly cold day, so we were prepared as such. We ended up being extremely overprepared. The sun was out and encapsulated the entire mountain by the time we got there, and it was by far the best visibility I had gotten skiing all season, at any of the ski areas.

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Alec and his family at Aspen Highlands - Alec Stowell 

Normally, when new to a ski area, I tend to take my time exploring the mountain and lifts to see what runs and trails I like best. My uncle had only one day in Colorado to ski, however, so we had to just get after it. We considered doing the Highland Bowl, which was recommended to us by the liftees, but again we wanted to get the most runs in possible so we decided to hit the runs that we wouldn’t have to hike to.

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Aspen HIghlands - Alec Stowell 

From Highlands Village, we took the Exhibition and Loge Peak lifts to gain as much elevation as possible. The views going up Loge Peak to the top are absolutely breathtaking. It helped that we went on such a sunny and clear day but wow, I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s like you’re looking at a painting on both sides.

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Loge Peak - Aspen Highlands - Alec Stowell 

From there, our best bet outside of the Highland Bowl was to hit Temerity and Steeplechase – two runs that’ll be sure to get your heart pumping and legs burning, especially if that’s what you’re going to start out with. In retrospect, I wish we had warmed up a little bit first, but it definitely felt like we were getting our workout in. It’s a steep stretch of terrain with almost strictly moguls all the way down the mountain until you get to the Deep Temerity lift, which is your only way back to the top. So, if that type of terrain isn’t for you, I would just steer clear of it. If it is, it’s a ton of fun with some great snow conditions, tree run opportunities, and some beautiful views that are exclusive to these runs.

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Aspen Highlands - Alec Stowell 

After really wearing ourselves out for a few hours on these runs we had to refuel. After looking at the trail map, we were drawn to the Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro which you can get to from Loge Peak by taking the Broadway run, as long as you keep far left. We didn’t know what to expect but they had big sundeck with gorgeous views of the mountain range off to the right, so we opted to sit out there.

Had it not been such a beautiful day, we also had the option to sit inside where the décor was that of a five-star restaurant. We were promptly greeted and given a menu to which we discovered they were going for a swiss-esque culinary style. The price was a little costly, but the all the food we saw getting delivered to tables looked outstanding with their specialty being fondue dishes. We settled on the Steak Tartare to make sure we could eat quickly and still get as many runs in as possible. Between the food, the service, and the views, we couldn’t ask for a much better lunch experience.

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Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro - Aspen Highlands - Alec Stowell 

Prior to leaving, our server mentioned that their restaurant completely transforms into what he called an ‘Après Ski Club’ after 2 PM. He said it’s an experience not to miss as people of all ages (over 21) come together to make the most of their après ski adventure. He also let us know that due to the gorgeous weather, we came on a perfect day to enjoy the sundeck in all its glory. We were convinced at that point.

We set out for the second half of our day which consisted of more of the same from the morning but also some blues here and there to give our legs a little rest. We wanted to give ourselves time to check out the Après Ski Club but still wanted to make sure skiing was our priority. We skied up until the Deep Temerity lift closed which was at 3, so after that, we made our way towards Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro once more.

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Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro - Apres Club - Aspen Highlands - Alec Stowell

We didn’t even need to know the route by memory this time around, the music was so loud that it guided us.  We arrived to a packed house. People were on the tables dancing, popping champagne, having drinks and chatting with one another. The bar on the sundeck is easy to spot as it hosts massive bottles of champagne and wine to lure in après ski guests. It is 21+, so if you’re interested in attending, make sure you have your ID if you look like you may be underage, or you will not be let in.

We spent about 45 minutes there having a couple of drinks and dancing while basking in the remainder of that beautiful day’s sunlight. We peeked inside, just to see what that was like and that was even crazier. A similar environment to that outside, but with the close proximity of things everything was ramped up and the music was even louder.

You may think that this is strictly a young person’s vibe, but we took note of people old and young enjoying this unique après ski experience. We were glad we stopped at that location for lunch because had we not, it’s pretty unlikely that we would’ve made it back for the afternoon hoorah. Our server told us it’s pretty well known by locals but a hidden gem for those visiting from out of town, so I’d recommend it to anyone interested – it really was a great time and the fact that you’re up on the mountain makes it that much better.

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Aspen Highlands - Alec Stowell

At 4 PM they make sure that the party is over and send everyone back down the mountain in the best interest of everyone’s safety. That was the conclusion of our day at Aspen Highlands but will definitely not be my last day there this season. You can’t go wrong with any of the Aspen Snowmass ski areas and depending on what you are looking for, some mountains will suit you better than others. But if you’re going out on a limb and want to have a unique après ski experience, consider making Aspen Highlands your next Aspen Snowmass destination.

 

 

Alec Stowell

Alec Stowell is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Business with a focus in entrepreneurship. He was born in Glenwood Springs and grew up skiing in the roaring fork valley. Being active and exploring the outdoors has always been a huge priority to him - everything from skiing, basketball, mountain biking, hiking, and more have all been hobbies of his for as long as he can remember. Early in his education, he discovered a passion for writing and so when the opportunity came along to both ski and write, he was ecstatic. After graduation, he hopes to still be able to pursue a career in which he can combine his passion for writing and the outdoors, but is still figuring out what the future holds. For now, he is looking forward to making the most out of his ski season with Colorado Ski Country.

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