wilderness, mountains, and entertainment in the rocky mountain valhalla of Aspen, CO

mountains

Misty Mount Daly

Snowmass Creek valley and Mt. Daly on a fall hike, while visiting Aspen in '07

Snowmass Creek valley and Mt. Daly on a fall hike, while visiting Aspen in '07

I took this photo before I moved out here, when I was interviewing and finalizing housing. This was a nice hike just outside Snowmass Village: starting at the Campground parking lot, I took the easy Ditch Trail, which connected to the East Snowmass Creek Trail in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, then continued along this trail for an hour or so, looking at the back of Snowmass ski area (ridge of Sneaky’s) from across the valley. This was taken the same day as my “Last Fall” post here.

Taken 9/29/2007.


View From The Sundeck

The top of Aspen Mtn provides some grand vistas of the surrounding mountains.

The top of Aspen Mtn provides some grand vistas of the surrounding mountains.

This is (part of) the view from the top of Aspen Mountain (Ajax). The Highland Bowl is on the right, and Pyramid Peak is the darker peak in the distance, center of the frame. The restaurant here at the top of Ajax is aptly named The Sundeck.

On my first day of work with SkiCo today, we went up to get the computers there at The Sundeck (and at the adjoining Aspen Mountain Club) ready for opening day on Thursday. Well, the gondola is not running full time yet, and we got “stuck” up there, so I was forced to sit outside and eat lunch with this as my view… Not a bad first day at work!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a pic of the cloudless, sunny view there today—and I don’t seem to have any good wider-angle shots since I’ve been here—so, this is from a shot taken on my visit out here in Feb 2006.

Taken 2/26/2006.


Top Of The Bowl

Spectacular view from the top of the Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands (12,382 ft).

Spectacular view from the top of the Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands (12,382 ft).

It really feels more like the top of the world! The first time, it’s because you’re above everything around you, you have an amazing 360 view, and you’ve just completed a grueling climb; which perhaps made you question whether you’d complete it without oxygen or assistance! (Well, that was my experience, as an out-of-shape flatlander still acclimating to the altitude here.)

After doing it a few times, the hike is not as harrowing, and once in shape I was able to make it up in 30 minutes from getting off the lift (*without* taking the snowcat, of course–that’s for those hypocrites who say they’re environmentalists, but take the diesel-belching machine up, because they want to take the easy way out and save 10 minutes of hiking! ask me how I really feel sometime…)

The view is always just as impressive: looking at the Maroon Bells, Pyramid Peak, and other 14ers and high peaks–even though it may not have the same impact as the first time–you still get that “top of the world” exhilaration when you reach the summit, and take a look around as you catch your breath, before heading down the long steep pitches below.

Each time you’re bound to recognize another peak or valley, or catch the lighting or clouds differently from previous times. At least, that’s my experience… And, that’s why you’ll see me on top of the Highland Bowl as often as possible this year!!! (click that link for a cool video)

OH… and the occasion for this longer-than-usual monologue here… I just accepted an IT position with Aspen Ski Co! So, I’m even more psyched for this ski season to begin, because my pass is now covered, and I’ll be working mere steps from the gondola at Aspen Mountain. So, come visit, y’all!

Taken 1/26/2008.


View From Snowmass Creek

Looking at Snowmass Ski Area, from Snowmass Creek valley

Looking at Snowmass Ski Area, from Snowmass Creek valley

I helped a friend move today, from her place off Snowmass Creek Rd, and this was the view from her front porch! That is Snowmass Ski Area, looking at Sam’s Knob & Campground. So, now her place is available for rent too, and cheaper than where I am now. Hmm… I’m considering it, but it’s 20 minutes out of town. What a great view though!

Taken 11/14/2008.


Highland Bowl From Ajax

view of Highland Bowl from Aspen Mtn, at Buckhorn cabin

view of Highland Bowl from Aspen Mtn, at Buckhorn cabin

Since I’m chompin’ at the bit for ski season to start, thought I’d post a pic of where I’ll be skiing many days this year! The Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands (across the valley here) provides one of the best inbounds skiing experiences in Colorado. A 30-45 minute hike from the top of the lift-served area leaves you with a choice of numerous long, steep runs.

This shot was taken from Aspen Mtn near the Buckhorn hut, on one of my last ski days last year, when I hiked (skinned) to the top of Aspen Mountain (Ajax) after the lifts had closed. It was really cool having the whole mountain to myself!

Taken 5/4/2008.


Alaska Views Again

near the summit of Steamroller Pass, backpacking in Alaska

near the summit of Steamroller Pass, backpacking in Alaska


Well, when I was going through the Alaska pics, I saw this one too… It’s too cool not to share. This was toward the end of our first day, coming down Steamroller Pass, headed down to Archangel Lakes. The terrain in this view was just otherworldly, and the clouds hanging on the peak made the effect even more striking.

Taken 7/18/2006.


Independence Pass Morning

Black & White pic of sunny peak among clouds, from Independence Pass

Black & White pic of sunny peak among clouds, from Independence Pass

Somewhat thematic “Independence” pic for Election Day today… Had some great lighting, with the sun breaking through onto peaks with clouds all around, so I decided to try a Black & White photo. This was taken while driving up Independence Pass early in the morning, on the way to my Colorado Trail hike and Uncle Bud’s Hut trip (see my other posts from that trip, here on Aspen Views at, “Elbert And Massive” and “Sunset At Uncle Budís“.

Taken 9/21/2008.


Snowmass Capitol Daly

Snowmass Ski Area and surrounding peaks, from the Rio Grande Trail

Snowmass Ski Area and surrounding peaks, from the Rio Grande Trail


A great view of the Snowmass Ski Area and surrounding peaks–Mt. Daly (13,300 ft) at far right, and Capitol Peak (14,130 ft) to its left–as seen from the Rio Grande Trail. I thought of this photo, because it’s similar to the view I had this evening, as I was getting a free horse riding lesson from a new friend!

Taken 5/31/2008.


Yin And Yang With Mountains

Mosaic of yin yang at top of the Rim Trail in Snowmass

Mosaic of yin yang at top of the Rim Trail in Snowmass

This wonderful mosaic—depicting the yin and yang taijitu in the center, and spiraling outward—can be found on top of the beginning section of the Rim Trail, just above Snowmass Village. Appropriately, there was great lighting from sun on the distant peaks to the north, beyond the cloudy skies overhead.

This first part of the Rim Trail provided a good short hike, with a bit of steepness to it, and providing great 360 views, with the option to continue on for the rest of the 6-7 mile loop.

Taken 5/26/2008.


Route To Highland Bowl

Ridge hike to the top of the Highland Bowl

Ridge hike to the top of the Highland Bowl

I can’t wait for ski season! So, here’s a photo of my favorite place to ski last season…

This is the start of the hike up to the top of the Highland Bowl (12,382 ft), from the top of the lift-served part of Aspen Highlands ski area. The hike up takes ~30-45 minutes (45 my first time, <30 on my last), if you don't take the snowcat (which I never do!).

This particular day featured fantastic skiing in deep powder, with cool but sunny weather, and some low clouds, which created the great lighting effects here.

Taken 1/13/2008.


For a video which gives a good flavor of the Bowl experience, check out Highlands Bowl- Colorado’s premier “mid country terrrain” on Brightcove.tv
Highlands Bowl on Aspen Highlands Mountain is the premier expert destination for expert skiers looking to challenge themselves.


Empty Chair

An empty chair at Tiehack on Buttermilk ski area

An empty chair at Tiehack on Buttermilk ski area

Since the snow fell today, I’m thinking of ski season again! This photo is from one of my last ski days… taken when I skinned up Tiehack at Buttermilk, then skied down, one evening after the ski season ended. It was great, I had the mountain to myself, and had some great views of Pyramid Peak as I was coming up the ridge. In this photo, you can see Mt. Sopris below and left of the chair.

Taken 5/3/2008.


Early Snow On Sopris

Early snow on Mount Sopris

Early snow on Mount Sopris

I stopped at the scenic overlook on the way back up to Aspen after a recent downvalley trip (to engrave and ship the AHPI Trophy for the 10th annual event this past weekend!), to admire the view of Mount Sopris (12,965 ft) in Carbondale, CO.

It really is an impressive mountain; it dominates the landscape, rising 6,250 ft above the valley to the west in only 2.5 mi. A vertical rise of over 6,000 feet in under 3 miles is rare and impressive anywhere in the contiguous United States. And, on this particular day, the clouds and lighting on the peak made for an inspiring view.

Taken 10/10/2008.


Elbert And Massive

Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, from Uncle Bud's Hut

Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, from Uncle Bud's Hut

This black & white photo shows the great view of Colorado’s two highest peaks, Mt. Elbert (14,433 ft) and Mt. Massive (14,421 ft), from the porch of Uncle Bud’s Hut (11,380 ft), near Leadville, CO last month.

Mt. Massive was the first 14er I ever attempted, in July 1992, when I lived in Denver. We got up above 13,000 feet when a big storm rolled in (we actually got it on video, I’ll have to find that!), and we turned back; so I didn’t actually make the summit. Shortly thereafter, Mt. Elbert was my first successful 14er summit on 7/26/1992.

Taken 9/21/2008.


Pyramid And Bells

Pyramid Peak and Maroon Bells from Buckskin Pass

Pyramid Peak and Maroon Bells from Buckskin Pass

Yesterday’s photo showed the view from the start of the hike; so, this one shows the view from the top of Buckskin Pass (12,462 ft), from L to R: Pyramid Peak (14,018 ft), Thunder Pyramid (13,932 ft), North Maroon Peak (14,014 ft), and (just the tip of) Maroon Peak (14,156 ft).

Taken 10/15/2008.


The Maroon Bells

The Maroon Bells Scenic Area overlooking Maroon Lake

The Maroon Bells Scenic Area overlooking Maroon Lake

So… I’ve referenced the Maroon Bells a few times, and perhaps a few of you aren’t familiar with this area… well, now you get it! Gorgeous, awe-inspiring, and dubbed “the most photgraphed mountains in North America.”

This view is taken just a short walk from the Maroon Bells Scenic Area parking lot, overlooking Maroon Lake. I then hiked to the top of Buckskin Pass (12,462 ft), and ran all the way down (~3.75 miles, 3000 ft)… ooh my knees!

Taken 10/15/2008.


Snow Is Coming

Snow on Pyramid

Snow on Pyramid

We had a dusting of snow last night, which really highlights the high peaks in the area, and made for a great view of Pyramid Peak (14,018′) as I was leaving the Aspen Rec Center after coaching a hockey game this morning. You can also still see some bright yellow aspen trees scattered about as well, telling us it’s still Fall, but Winter is on the way…

Taken 10/12/2008.


Mountains Grass Snow

Thanksgiving 2007 Great view from back of Aspen Mtn

Thanksgiving 2007 Great view from back of Aspen Mtn

A great view after hiking down Little Annie’s Road, off the back of Aspen Mountain, less than a month after I moved to Aspen. The mountain wasn’t opened for skiing yet, but the gondola was open, so I went exploring… Good exercise, before eating and drinking waayyy too much.

Taken 11/22/2007.


Pyramid Peak On My 40th!

Approach to Pyramid Peak, framed by aspen trees.

Approach to Pyramid Peak, framed by aspen trees.

Figured I’d start this photoblog with one from my 40th birthday solo climb of Pyramid Peak, directly adjacent to the oft-photographed Maroon Bells. This photo shows the approach, and lower subpeaks of Pyramid, taken at the beginning of the climb, just past Maroon Lake.

More info about the peak and the route can be found on 14ers.com.

Taken 8/3/2008.