As a long-time local Aspen skier, people often ask me where I go to ski when conditions are at their best. It’s a tough question, as we have four ski resorts to choose from: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands. But, more often than not, my answer is quite simply, “The Bowl”—the famous in-bounds, backcountry-feeling alpine Aspen Highlands Highland Bowl.

Like many of the world’s classic ski runs, Aspen Highlands Highland Bowl is a freak of nature. Rising high above the Loge Peak lift at Aspen Highlands, the Bowl truly has all the elements of a perfect advanced and expert off-piste run, with the additional requirement that one must hike 30-40 minutes up the ridge to access the upper slopes. These gorgeous, snowy pitches wrap around from south to north, all of it starting gloriously high above the tree-line. The summit ridge is so prominent that great lashings of wind-driven snow from the west are regularly caught and deposited in the Bowl, often leading to snow falls that are twice as deep as on the front side of the ski areas. Fortunately, the ski patrol controls the avalanche danger in the Bowl, so we all can have a safe but wild experience.

So, when conditions in the Aspen Highlands Highland Bowl beckon, I head up the ridge with my skis on my back, hiking for perhaps 30 minutes, directly to the summit. It’s a challenging thin-air hike, especially for those not used to hiking for turns. But it is addictive. Along the way I pass ski runs like the Ballroom, Steep and Deep, Mosh Pit, and the White Kitchen. Inevitably, I run into friends on the summit and we discuss our line choices. I typically don’t linger on top for very long, but step into my skis and push off towards Ozone, or perhaps the steep, north-facing tree lines of the G-zones.

After 2,000 fantastic, free-spirited feet of non-stop powder, even my legs are burning. But I always have a huge smile on my face as I head back up the chairlift for another lap in Aspen Highlands Highland Bowl.