Highlands Bowl at [R24R, Aspen Highlands] is notorious for double black diamond skiing at its best. The renowned bowl offers over 2,000 vertical feet of backcountry type terrain, accessed by a heart-pounding 30- to 45-minute hike. Such an adventure can be intimidating at first. Guests are typically hooked, though, once they hike the bowl for the first time.

Aspen/Snowmass ambassadors will now be hosting free tours of Highlands Bowl this winter. Tours are at 11 a.m. Wednesdays, weather and conditions permitting. They last about 90 minutes, as long as it takes for the guests and ambassadors to hike up and ski or snowboard down. You need to be pretty good on the snow, too, as the tour is for guests who are confident skiing or riding double black diamond terrain.

Melissa Rhines with Aspen Skiing Company says it's something free for the guests. "We started the tours as another way to show guests our mountain in a more intimate way. Some guests are a bit intimidated by Highlands Bowl. They can ski it but feel as if it is another territory on the mountain. They're a bit nervous to explore it without a guide."

You can see the Highlands Bowl on all season passes this year. Walter Niedermayr's photographic art work was chosen to go on the passes as well as a select number of lift tickets.

Aspen Highlands is scheduled to open for the season Dec. 11. Aspen Highlands will stay open three more weeks than usual this year, through April 24.

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