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In Highlands Bowl, the Hardest Way to Earn Your Turns


Doing outrageous forms of manual labor is nothing new for ski bums doing whatever it takes to get on the slopes in the winter is nothing new, but Aspen Ski Company provides a particularly brutal means of earning your pass. Before Aspen Highlands' renowned Highlands Bowl opens each season, legions of broke and/or masochistic skiers and snowboarders are brought up to the Bowl, which sits in the neighborhood of 12,000 feet above sea level, and hike up and down the bowl through sometimes waist-deep snow in order to break through and compact the various early-season snow levels and make the slope less likely to avalanche later in the season. The day starts at 8am sharp and goes all the way until 4:30pm, and in order to earn a full season's pass, you have to do this 15 times.

At peak fitness in the middle of the season, simply hiking the Bowl and skiing it more than twice in a day is commendable. But hiking up and down fresh snow in boots before your ski legs are fit and ready, at an altitude you haven't been to in several months, for eight and half hours at a time is 99.99% of the population's idea of pure torture. This guy claims to loves it and that it's something he "might do in some form anyways" to maintain his fitness. But if doing an 8.5-hour Tough Mudder at altitude in winter is not your idea of fun, you can just hit the Bowl on skis like a normal person this weekend. Just make sure to tip your hat to anyone you meet who endured this experience.
·Bootpacking the Bowl. Getting it ready for your skiing/riding pleasure! [Aspen/Snowmass Intagram]