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Skiing Aspen Mountain on a Powder Day: Advanced-Expert Skiers:

Todd Hartley's picture

With a mere 673 skiable acres, Aspen Mountain (or Ajax, as the locals call it) seems like it should be a small mountain, but don’t let that number fool you. Ajax is one of the biggest little ski areas in the world, and if you’re a good skier, it offers all the challenge and varied terrain you could want, provided you know where you want to go and how to get there.
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Start the day by riding the Silver Queen Gondola to the summit, and from there consider your options and the conditions. If it’s a powder day, you’ll want to get right into the good stuff, and there are three main strategies for doing this.

The first method is stay far right on 1 & 2 Leaf and then drop into Walsh’s, Hyrup’s or Kristi, a trio of steep, open runs that get loaded with snow by the prevailing winds. Keep your speed up at the bottom and follow Lud’s Lane to the bottom of the Gent’s Ridge Lift (aka “The Couch”). From here, head back to the summit, or continue down to the base via Jackpot. Another option is Bingo Glades (if it’s open and you’re up for the challenge). Both of these steep, long runs will test your stamina as well as your skiing ability.

An alternate route to the base of the Gent’s Ridge Lift involves taking Copper Cutoff to Bellisimo, and then following that run to the traverse near the top of Bell Mountain. Stay right on the traverse and drop into Knowlton’s or the Back of Bell. While not as steep as the Walsh’s trio, these runs nevertheless get some of the best snow on the mountain. Traverse out to the right to reach the lift, or head left and tackle the high-profile moguls beneath the gondola on the Ridge of Bell.

The final strategy for tackling Ajax on a powder day is to stay on the Bell Mountain traverse until you reach the Face of Bell, which can also be accessed by going left on the traverse. Ski the steep bumps and open trees of the Face down to the F.I.S. Lift. After a short ride you’ll find yourself faced with a number of excellent choices. Short Snort, Zaugg Dump, Perry’s Prowl, and Last Dollar (known collectively as The Dumps) offer steep, open runs with excellent glade skiing in between.

If you’re looking for something a little steeper, S1 has an intimidating top section between two cliff bands. If conditions are right, the ski patrol might also open the Cone Dumps, Rayburn’s and Trainors. The Cone Dumps and Rayburn’s serve up steep glades and hidden stashes, while Trainors features cliffs, rocks and some of the most extreme terrain in the area.

At the bottom of the mountain the tendency is to head right back to the gondola, but don’t overlook the terrain near the Shadow Mountain lift. Corkscrew, Corkscrew Gully and Super 8 are all great runs that see little traffic and take a long time to get skied off.