Ski Conditioning

Ski Conditioning

Cover: Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


With ski season just around the corner, we decided to get some expert advice on putting together a ski conditioning program that would get us in top ski shape in 7-8 weeks and keep us in shape throughout ski season.

We contacted the Aspen Club & Spa, who set us up with Rachelle Edinger, a personal trainer from Aspen. While ski conditioning classes are common in mountain towns, we asked Rachelle to put together a ski conditioning program that could be done anywhere  – at home with minimal equipment or at a gym that didn’t offer ski training.

Rachelle walked us through each segment of the ski conditioning program, explaining the goals, the exercises, and what, if any, equipment was required.  She then demonstrated how to do the workout, which we captured on video. The ski conditioning program information provided is for educational and entertainment purposes only and is not to be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product, or course of action. As with any fitness program, see your doctor before trying any workout to discuss one that is appropriate for you.

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Getting started with ski conditioning

Rachelle suggested we…

  • Start 7-8 weeks ahead of ski season for time to sufficiently train and progress
  • Start off with easier drills that are modifications of the ones done 7-8 weeks into the program
  • At 7-8 weeks, do the ski conditioning program with more intensity as a part of the progression process

Ski conditioning benefits

  • Prevents injury
  • Improves performance
  • Prepares the body for the physical demands skiing

Ski conditioning focus areas

Core & balance

Whether boarding or skiing, balance is a necessity and a strong core is fundamental for achieving balance.

Agility & power

A focus on power & jumping using different plyometric drills helps train for moguls and the more technical aspects of skiing.

Cardio & muscle endurance

  • Cardio.  At altitude, the body is under strain and with exertion, breathing can be more difficult. The goal is to train the heart for those conditions.
  • Muscular endurance. Skiing can be an all-day activity and the goal is to fight fatigue. Many injuries are a result of being tired.

Stretching

Many people ski all day and wake up sore the next day. Stretching for a 15 or 20 minutes at the end of a workout or ski day will help alleviate sore muscles.

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Ski Conditioning Program

Session length

1 hour and working up to 1 1/2 hours

Program segment options

Option 1: Set up a circuit and rotate through the circuit multiple times

Option 2: Timed segments

1st 15 minutes: core & balance
2nd 15 minutes: agility & power
3rd 15 minutes: cardio & muscular endurance
4th 15 minutes: stretching

Rachelle’s tips

  • Don’t get bored with it, so change the order or exercises to make every workout different each day.
  • Start with 2 sessions per week and work up to 3 per week.
  • On off days, do some hiking, cycling, longer cardio, or yoga.
Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Ski conditioning during ski season

Rachelle recommends using the same program during ski season but continuing to add elements increasing the difficulty.

For example, starting with a BOSU® side to side squat, progressing to adding a ball, then adding a reach with a ball – something that makes it harder each time.

We both have bad knees, so Rachelle recommended that when we do squats or lunges, to never let our knees go beyond our toes. On power drills, we are to avoid jumping if it hurts our knees.

Ski conditioning exercises: Warm-up & agility exercises on the step

Getting your body ready for exercise and your muscles loose is an important part of any training program. Rachelle uses the fitness step with a variety of exercises as a warm-up. Following the warm-up, we do some side-to-side squats, wide squats, and side to side steps reaching up with a ball for agility and power training.

To start: 30 seconds on each drill, 30 seconds off, with a goal to work up to 1 minute for each drill with a 20-second break.

  • Equipment used: Fitness step and a medicine or weighted ball.
  • Focus: Warm-up, agility & power

Ski conditioning exercises: BOSU® ball

The BOSU ball, which stands for “both sides up” or “both sides utilized,” is a versatile exercise tool that can provide an efficient method for performing ski exercises. The BOSU ball looks like half of a stability ball connected to a platform and was invented  by David Weck. The  U.S. Olympic Ski Team has used BOSU balls to improve core strength and balance.

Rachelle’s recommended BOSU ball ski exercises include side to side agility drills, pushing off/jumps, pushing off into a squat, a variety of balance exercises and held squats. For the held squats, we started with a 30-second hold and are working up to a minute, with active recovery – marching in place – in between.

By turning the  BOSU ball over, additional exercises such as planks and pushups can further help strengthen the core and upper body.

  • Equipment used: BOSU ball
  • Focus: Agility, balance, core, and power drills

Ski conditioning exercises: Core & Balance

A key part of any ski training program is core strengthening. A strong core is fundamental for achieving balance – something every skier or snowboarder must have.

For this segment of our ski training program, Rachelle introduced the balance discs. Balance discs are inflatable disc cushions that are inexpensive, portable and significantly add balance challenges to the ski training program. We started with a basic single-leg squat on the floor without the discs, using something to balance ourselves (bar, stick, ski pole).

  • Equipment used: Balance discs, medicine ball, ski pole
  • Focus: Core strengthening & balance

As we progress with the ski training program, Rachelle outlined ways to increase the difficulty:

  • Eliminate the stick and move on to the balance discs with basic squats or held squats
  • Add a weight or medicine ball to the squats on the balance discs
  • Add a twist with the ball to the squats on the discs

Ski conditioning exercises: No equipment needed

In this segment, Rachelle shows us how to train for skiing without any equipment, just using our own body weight. Bodyweight exercises are great because they can be done at home without equipment or when traveling.

  • Equipment required: None
  • Focus: Agility, balance & strength

Exercises: A variety of squats and lunges including jump squats, switched lunge, skaters.

Training for skiing without equipment

Ski conditioning exercises: TRX® Ski Training

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Developed by a former US Navy SEAL, TRX is a strength and core conditioning training system that adds a stability challenge to hundreds of exercises.

TRX is used by athletes and teams throughout the NFL®, MLB®, UFC®, NHL® and NBA®, by tactical athletes in all four branches of the US military, and by trainers and fitness enthusiasts at major gyms and studios throughout the world.

Two popular TRX solutions – the TRX Suspension Trainer and the TRX Rip™ Trainer  – add a new level of challenge to a ski workout.

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Using the TRX Rip™ Trainer

The TRX Rip Trainer is a resistance cord system for developing core strength.

As Rachelle demonstrates, the TRX Rip Trainer can be added to a ski workout by performing a squat press or a squat row, or using it as a slapshot for core strengthening and endurance.

The TRX Suspension Trainer uses your own bodyweight as resistance and is scalable to all levels of fitness and intensity. The TRX Suspension Trainer adds numerous strengthening exercise options to a ski workout for core, upper body and lower body.

Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Rachelle and to Aspen Club and Spa. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

10 Tips for the Best Ski Vacation in Aspen

Cover: Aspen Mountain
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #1
Get in ski shape before you visit

10 Tips for the Best Ski Vacation in Aspen - Tip 1To make the most of your time on the slopes, some time spent pre-ski conditioning will get your body ready for high-altitude fun and also help prevent injury.

Rachelle Edinger, a Personal Trainer at the Aspen Club & Spa, put together a ski conditioning program for getting us into top ski shape before we ever clicked into our skis.

Check out Rachelle’s ski conditioning suggestions »

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #2
Leave your stuff at home

10 Tips for the Best Ski Vacation in Aspen - Tip 2What if you just went to the airport, flew to Aspen, and then someone brought everything you needed to your hotel, condo or house?  Boot fittings with a glass of wine in hand. Now we’re talking.

Check out Ski Butlers-they bring it all to you (well, except the wine) »

Aspen Ski Butlers, Aspen, Colorado
Aspen Ski Butlers, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #3
The perfect spot for some zzzzs

10 Tips for the Best Ski Vacation in Aspen - Tip 3Finding a great hotel for your Aspen ski vacation is easy – making a choice may be a little more difficult.

Aspen has a wide variety of accommodations from quaint hotels to luxurious condominiums. Things to consider – while staying in the central core, or downtown Aspen will be more expensive but highly convenient for après, shopping and dining. Staying at Highlands or Buttermilk is ski in/ski out, but can be a bit quiet in the evenings. Families love the atmosphere at Snowmass, but it is about 15 miles from Aspen (the bus is free).


Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #4
Choose the best ski gear

10 Tips for the Best Ski Vacation in Aspen - Tip 4We all want to be comfy & warm all day on the mountain & a big part of accomplishing that lies with our ski gear choices. What makes some ski gear better than the rest?

Hear it from an expert – a former ski racer who loves skiing, owns two Aspen ski shops, and simply believes in things done right.

Bill Miller of Hamilton Sports & Miller Sports walks us through some options for the best in ski jackets, ski pants, and skis.

Aspen shppping: Hamilton Sports
Aspen shopping: Hamilton Sports
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #5
Which mountain should you ski or ride? Hmm, Aspen has four.

10 Tips for the Best Ski Vacation in Aspen - Tip 5Finding a mountain for your skill level or mood for the day is easy in Aspen – there’s four to choose from!

Whether you are looking for some green gliding or the most challenging inbounds skiing in the state of Colorado, you will find it at AspenSnowmass. Check out all four:

Aspen
Aspen Highlands
Buttermilk
Snowmass

Aspen Highlands, Aspen, Colorado
Aspen Highlands, Aspen, Colorado Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #6
Aspen Eats

10 Tips for the Best Ski Vacation in Aspen - Tip 6You are sure to work up an appetite while in Aspen and your palate will be pleased with the variety and quality of Aspen restaurants.

From five course dinners to a bite on the run, Aspen restaurants offer something for everyone. A few of our favorites…

  • Red Onion. Aspen’s oldest restaurant with a great bar and great happy hour beer prices.
  • J-Bar.  Always a fun crowd with a healthy number of locals.
  • Matsuhisa. Best sushi in town and good bar specials.
  • Ajax Tavern. Best location (base of the gondola) for people watching.
  • Brexi. Good bar menu deals.
  • Cache Cache. Prettiest bar in Aspen. Again, good bar menu specials.
  • Mezzaluna. Guess what – great après menu! Our go-to-spot for pizza.

Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #7
A night out on the town

10 Tips for the Best Ski Vacation in Aspen - Tip 7When the sun goes down, Aspen’s nightlife comes alive.

Dinner? Drinks? Theatre? Ballet? A concert? Aspen offers world-class entertainment in some of the finest venues anywhere.

Be sure to stop by the Wheeler Opera House, Aspen’s cultural showcase & premiere site for concerts, movies, festivals, lectures, community events and opera performances since opening night on April 23, 1889.

Wheeler Opera House, Aspen, Colorado
Wheeler Opera House, Aspen, Colorado Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Photo credit: Rosalie O’Connor. Photo courtesy of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet brings touring dance companies from around the world to Aspen in both the summer and winter seasons. The company regularly performs at the Kennedy Center, American Dance Festival, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, and New York’s Joyce Theater, as well in cities around the world.

Belly Up Aspen is an intimate venue in downtown Aspen that hosts over 300 live concerts a year with musical talent ranging from Jane’s Addiction to Wyclef Jean to Seal.

The choices are yours – put together your favorite combination and enjoy your night on the town. Aspen awaits.


Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #8
Take a day off and go to the spa

10 Tips for the Best Ski Vacation in Aspen - Tip 8Aspen is filled with luxurious spas – find the perfect place for a tranquil day of pampering & indulgence.

The Aspen Club, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #9
Take a lesson from a pro

10 tips for the best ski vacation - #9 ski schoolSki lessons are a great way to start any ski trip, regardless of your skiing level. And, if it’s your first ski trip, ski lessons are a must.

The ski school at Aspen Snowmass is recognized worldwide as one of the best.

They offer group lessons, which can be great fun, as well as private tuition.

Aspen Snowmass Ski School, Aspen, Colorado
Aspen Snowmass Ski School, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Best ski vacation in Aspen Tip #10
A bit of Aspen shopping

10 tips for the best ski vacation - #10Aspen has a wide variety of shopping options, from toiny boutiques to local retailers to art galleries.

Head downtown for an afternoon stroll to discover all that Aspen stores have to offer.

Aspen Food & Wine Classic 2012

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

10 tips for the best ski vacation in Aspen
10 tips for the best ski vacation in Aspen Photo: © Chasing Light Media
Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


The Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail is an easy, short trail meandering along the creek.

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Maroon Lake Scenic Trail: Getting there

From the roundabout west of Aspen, take Maroon Creek Road.

Check the sign just past the roundabout for road closure status. During busy times & the summer, cars are only permitted past the guard gate to the Maroon Lake parking lot before 9am or after 5pm. On these days, park at Aspen Highlands and take the Maroon Bells bus (runs approx. every 20 minutes). If driving, a $10 fee applies for a 5-day pass.

Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail: The hike

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From the parking lot, follow the trail to the lake.

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The trail continues to the right of the lake. At the “Scenic Loop Trail or Crater Lake” marker, keep left.

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Cross the bridge over Maroon Creek and continue on the trail.

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The trail forms a loop through the meadow and trees.

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The trail is approximately 1 mile roundtrip.

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

 

Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado

Hiking Meadows Trail in Aspen

Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Meadows Trail is a short, pretty hike that begins in Aspen’s West End by Aspen Meadows Resort.

Aspen Meadows Resort, Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Aspen Meadows Resort, Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Meadows Trail: Getting there

Head west on Main Street, go through the “S” curve, then turn north (right) on 8th Street.  The trail begins at 8th and Meadows.

Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Meadows Trail: The hike

Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Meadows Trail is an easy, one mile roundtrip hike next to Castle Creek.

Beginning at 8th and Meadows, the trail runs next to 8th Street.

Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado (Buttermilk in distance)
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

At Aspen Meadows, turn left and head down the switchbacks behind the resort.

At the bottom of the switchbacks, Meadows Trail runs along Castle Creek, then intersects with Rio Grande Trail.

Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Meadows Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Additional Aspen, Colorado hikes

Aspen hiking overview
Rio Grande Trail
Richmond Ridge
Smuggler Mountain
Hunter Creek Trail
River Run Trail
Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop
Maroon Bells Crater Lake

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Hunter Creek Trail starts from Aspen and heads uphill (about 5 miles roundtrip).

Hunter Creek Trail: Getting there

From Main Street & Mill (corner of the Hotel Jerome), take Mill & cross the bridge by the old Art Museum.

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Turn left on Red Mountain Road & then right at Lone Pine Road.  The parking lot is on the corner and the trailhead is just up the street behind the parking lot.

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Hunter Creek Trail: The hike

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Hunter Creek trail is a moderate climb up a rocky path next to the creek.

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Hunter Creek Trail starts from Aspen and heads uphill for about 2.5 miles (one way) with about a 1,000 vertical foot elevation gain.

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The hike is mostly shady and runs next to the creek, in the midst of aspens.

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Views from each of the bridges provide beautiful views of Aspen to the south.

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

At the last bridge before the road (about .75 mile), be sure to look north at the waterfalls.

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Additional Aspen, Colorado hikes

Aspen hiking overview
Meadows Trail
Rio Grande Trail
Richmond Ridge
Smuggler Mountain
River Run Trail
Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop
Maroon Bells Crater Lake

Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Hunter Creek Trail in Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado

Hiking Smuggler Mountain in Aspen

Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Smuggler Mountain is a popular hike with the trailhead located in east Aspen.

Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Smuggler Mountain: Getting there

Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

From Main Street & Mill (corner of the Hotel Jerome), take Mill to Gibson.  Turn right & at the Y intersection, keep left onto South Avenue.  Turn right onto Park Circle to Smuggler Mountain Road.  There is parking on the right & and a 2nd lot is just above.

Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Smuggler Mountain: The hike

Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Kim Hull, Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Smuggler Mountain trail is a fairly steep 1.5 mile climb that ends at the observation deck overlooking Aspen.

Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Smuggler Mine sits at the base of the mountain. The trail is actually a multi-purpose dirt road shared by hikers, bikers, runners & dogs and is quite heavily used, especially on the weekends.

Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

At the top is an observation deck with stunning views of Aspen.

Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Kim Hull & Kibo, Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Additional Aspen, Colorado hikes

Aspen hiking overview
Meadows Trail
Rio Grande Trail
Richmond Ridge
Hunter Creek Trail
River Run Trail
Maroon Bells Maroon Lake Scenic Loop
Maroon Bells Crater Lake

Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Hiking Smuggler Mountain Trail, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Hamilton Sports, Aspen

Choosing the best men’s ski wear

Do men choose ski wear differently than women? It’s an interesting question.I would think men and women focus on many of the same characteristics, such as comfort, quality and waterproofing. Those three factors can make or break your day on the slopes.

Whether you are sailing down corduroy or shredding the steeps, you want to be able to move your arms, don’t want zippers breaking, and don’t want to be soaked should you take a spill.

How about breathability and warmth?

Both are pretty important – nobody wants to be cold and I’m pretty sure everyone is happier if you can take your jacket off without being drenched in sweat.

And, design?

Form and function

Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

While men may lean slightly more toward function over form, let’s face it, men want to look good too.

So, where do all the factors that make great men’s ski wear meet in the real world?

We think KJUS ski wear.

Created by Norwegian ski racer and Olympic champion, Lasse Kjus, KJUS ski wear for men protects against the elements, is super comfortable and it looks great too.

Take a look at the new
KJUS men’s warp speed ski jacket

We were recently talking with Bill Miller at Hamilton Sports in Aspen when a specific men’s jacket across the way caught my eye.

Hamilton Sports

Learn more about Hamilton Sports  & KJUS ski wear »

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.


 

Hamilton Sports, Aspen

Choosing the right pair of skis

Opening day has a way of turning thoughts towards what’s the newest, latest and best in skis.

Which skis perform the best? Some expert advice could come in handy about this time…

Shopping for a new pair of skis

Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Shopping for a new pair of skis is both exciting and intimidating.

Which brands are best?  Which style suits the type of skiing I do most?  What if I want a good all mountain ski?

Former pro skier and Aspen ski shop owner, Bill Miller, took a few moments to share with us his thoughts on this year’s selection, why he chose the skis he did for his ski shop, Hamilton Sports, and what he skies on…

Kastle Skis & Blizzard Skis Summary

Hamilton Sports, Aspen

  • Both are Austrian ski manufacturers
  • Both Kastle & Blizzard offer superb quality
  • Wide variety of styles & both Kastle & Blizzard have an excellent all-mountain option
  • Hamilton Sports carries one of the largest selections of Kastle in the U.S.
  • What’s the best ski Bill’s ever tested? (The answer is at the end of the video…)

Hamilton Sports

Learn more about Hamilton Sports »

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.


 

Hamilton Sports, Aspen

Choosing the best ladies ski wear

Name a brand of ski wear – we’ve probably worn it.

But, in the last few years, we’ve begun to narrow our choices down based on:

  • Quality: Ski wear that is going to last and is well-designed.
  • Warmth: If you get cold, you want to quit. Not an option.
  • Comfort: Lots of flex & stretch for ease of movement.
  • Breathability: Whether spring skiing, hiking the bowl or running to catch the bus, venting is a requirement.
  • Design: It has to look good.
Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

As a result, more and more KJUS® has appeared in our closet.

We wear ski wear nearly every winter day and have found KJUS to answer all of the above requirements. The designs are clean & attractive and the performance is, well in the words of KJUS, uncompromising.

We recently stopped by our favorite ski shop, Hamilton Sports, and had Bill Miller walk us through why KJUS performs so well.

To start: KJUS Ladies ski jackets

And the KJUS Ladies ski pants…

Bill explains the differences in the two styles of ladies KJUS pants available:
Revolution & Formula

KJUS Ladies ski wear: Summing it up

KJUS Ladies ski jackets

  • Multiple styles of KJUS ladies jackets available in a wide selection of colors
  • 4-way stretch
  • Fully waterproof & seam-sealed
  • Powder skirt
  • Light, moves with you

KJUS Ladies ski pants

  • Two styles of KJUS ladies pants: Revolution & Formula
  • KJUS ladies Revolution ski pants: Relaxed fit,  low-rise, 70 grams Thinsulate® insulation, waterproof, 4-way stretch
  • KJUS ladies Formula ski pants: Slimmer cut, 70 grams Thinsulate insulation, waterproof, 4-way stretch

Learn more about Hamilton Sports » 

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.


 

Hamilton Sports, Aspen

Hamilton Sports

Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The minute you walk through the door at Hamilton Sports you know you are in a real ski shop.

Not a store that has some ski gear, but an authentic ski shop – a place where quality rules and everyone is passionate about skiing, quick to answer a question or just happy to talk about time on the hill that day.

Located just across from the Aspen Mountain Gondola Plaza, Hamilton Sports is a great place to stop in for ski clothing, skis, helmets, gloves, accessories, ski rentals or to drop off your skis for the best ski tune in Aspen.

The making of a great ski shop

Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

In 1997, speed skier & member of the 200kmh club (top speed 130mph), Bill Miller and world record speed skier, Olympic bronze medalist & first person to ski 150mph, Jeff Hamilton, founded Hamilton Sports in Aspen.

Since that time, Hamilton Sports has built a strong reputation of quality and service based on owner Bill Miller’s continual determination to “offer the finest ski wear and equipment in the entire ski world.”

Our favorite ski shop

Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

We happened into Hamilton Sports about a decade ago on our first visit to Aspen and purchased some skis on that visit.

Since that time, we’ve purchased countless other ski items, clothing & accessories – and we wouldn’t have our skis tuned anywhere else.

There’s really not much of a better way to start the day than to get up, grab a bus, walk half a block to Hamilton Sports, pick up perfectly freshly tuned skis, and then head across the street to some of the world’s best skiing on Aspen Mountain.

Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Over the decade, we’ve grown to consider Hamilton Sports as our local ski shop – even when we lived in Texas.  Why?

  • Awesome KJUS selection.  We’ve been a fan of KJUS ski wear since it’s launch by Norwegian ski racer and Olympic champion, Lasse Kjus. Hamilton Sports has the best selection of KJUS in Aspen (or anywhere else). While many stores will carry a couple of styles for the guys, Hamilton Sports has it all – for both men AND women. And, if you’re not in Aspen, they’ll ship it to you.
  • Great ski selection and experts to help you choose the right ones.  The Hamilton Sports team will take the time to make sure you get the ski that is right for the way you ski.  Hamilton carries the top skis available, featuring Blizzard and Kastle. With regard to Kastle – Hamilton Sports was the very first ski shop in the United States to offer the redesigned Kastle ski line.
  • Want to rent the best? Renting is a great way to try out new skis.  At Hamilton Sports, 100% of the demo line rentals are brand new ski equipment from the lines they carry – and if you read the bullet above this one, you know what that means. Sweeeeet.
  • Best ski tune in Aspen. Voted best ski tuning shop in Aspen by readers of Aspen Times, Hamilton is recognized by Aspen locals as the place to get your skis tuned.

We like Hamilton Sports

Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Hamilton Sports, Aspen
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

When we find a store with great quality and great people – and Hamilton Sports is a perfect example of both – we want to tell you about it.

We ski 100+ days a year and this is our favorite ski shop.  We recommend it.

Check them out…

Visit Hamilton Sports

Location: 520 East Durant Ave Aspen, CO 81611

Winter Hours: 8am to 7pm daily

Phone: 970-925-1200

Website: Hamilton Sports

Hamilton Sports: A preview…

Click image to launch gallery

Skiing Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado

Aspen’s largest ski mountain: Snowmass

Skiing Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado
Skiing Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The largest of Aspen Snowmass’ four mountains, Snowmass has 3,332 acres with 150 miles of trails ensuring there’s room enough to play.

And, with cruisers, glades, steeps, 3 terrain parks, a 22-foot superpipe and a beginner pipe, there’s something for everyone to do in all that snow.

Snowmass: Countless options

Skiing Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado
Skiing Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The wide-range of skiing, dining and hotel options make Snowmass very popular with riders and skiers of all ages and abilities.

For the kids and beginners, Fanny Hill is a good place to start, working your way up to Max Park & Scooper off the Village Express lift.

The AspenSnowmass Ski School at Snowmass is a great way to get some top-notch instruction and learn the mountain – it’s well worth the investment.

Advancing up the mountain a bit higher are four areas, from right to left: Sam’s Knob, Big Burn, High Alpine and Elk Camp.

Sam’s Knob is closest to Snowmass Village and has a good mix of greens, blue and blacks.

If you’re looking for some amazing blue cruisers with stunning views, head up to Big Burn to find a playground of long, wide intermediate trails. Served by the Big Burn and Sheer Bliss lifts, Big Burn also has access to black and double black runs.

High Alpine lives up to its name – the runs at the top are all black, with quite a few bumps. Mid-mountain down are blues.

The Elk Camp side of the mountain is home to a variety of blue runs, all with spectacular views.

Skiing Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado
Skiing Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Snowmass: Eats

Snowmass Base Village BarSnowmass is home to an abundance of dining options from simple to refined.

On mountain are Gwyn’s High Alpine, Lynn Britt Cabin, Sneaky’s Tavern, Sam’s Smokehouse, Up 4 Pizza, Two Creeks Cafe, Burlingame Cabin, Ullrhof and Elk Camp.

Only slightly off-mountain in the village are dozens more. A couple of our favorites: The Stew Pot, serving homemade soups, sandwiches and a pretty tasty chili dog, and Base Camp Bar & Grill, with a great patio, good food & happy hour specials.

Snowmass: The Facts

Snowmass starts at a base elevation of 8,104 ft.(2,473 m) and rises to a summit elevation of 12,510 ft. (3,813 m) and a vertical rise of 4,406 ft. (1,343 m).

Snowmass’ 3,332 acres (1,448 hectares) contain 94 trails, served by 19 primary lifts.

6% of Snowmass’ trails are green, 47% are blue, 17% are black & 30% are double black. The longest run is 5.3 miles (8.5 km) – yeah, that’s not a typo.

For a Snowmass trail map and more info, head over to the AspenSnowmass website.

 

Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado

Skiing Aspen’s Buttermilk

Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Buttermilk sits three miles outside of Aspen on Highway 82, providing visitors a view of the impressive 22-foot superpipe as they make their way into Aspen.

The smallest of the four Aspen mountains, Buttermilk is primarily known as the home of the ESPN Winter X-Games and, at the other end of the continuum, a beginner’s mountain.

X Games, Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
X Games, Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Skiing & snowboarding for beginners & families

Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Buttermilk’s smooth rolling terrain makes it the Aspen option for new skiers and snowboarders to learn.

Well-groomed and not crowded, West Buttermilk’s gentle greens are the perfect place to build confidence or just enjoy a casual day on the slopes.

To head to West Buttermilk, simply take the Summit Lift to the top and head to the right (west).

West Buttermilk is served by the West Buttermilk lift.

Buttermilk’s ski and snowboard school

Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Ski & Snowboard Schools of AspenSnowmass teach on all four mountains, but generally beginner and children’s classes are held at either Buttermilk or Snowmass.

Aspen’s Ski & Snowboard School is exceptional, with skilled, professional instructors that strive to make the most of the experience regardless of age or ability.

And, while they’re in ski school…

If you are dropping off someone at ski school, jump on the Summit Express and head up to the Tiehack (east) side of the mountain.

Tiehack boasts blue and black runs that are generally groomed and are served by the Tiehack high-speed quad, new in 2011.

Racer’s Edge in the morning sun can hand over some nice fast cruising to start your day.

Catch some air at Buttermilk’s terrain parks

From beginner to expert, Buttermilk’s two terrain parks have over 100 features including rollers, jibs, boxes and hidden features in trees.

Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Buttermilk, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Buttermilk: Eats

Buttermilk has two restaurants: Bumps at the base of the mountain and The CliffHouse at the top of the Summit Express lift.

Boasting views up the mountain of the half-pipe and terrain park, Bumps serves up burgers, pasta, soups and sandwiches in an energetic atmosphere.

The CilffHouse offers lunch with amazing views of surrounding mountains. Dining options include burgers, soups, sandwiches and the very popular Mongolian grill.

Buttermilk: The Facts

Buttermilk has a base elevation of 7,870 ft (2,399 m) and tops out at 9,900 ft (3,018 ft).

It’s 470 acres (190 hectares) contain 44 trails, served by 3 high-speed quads lifts (plus 4 ski school lifts & the Panda Peak lift).

35% of the trails are green, 39% are blue, 26% black & there are no double black.

The longest run is 3 miles.

For a Buttermilk trail map and more info, visit the AspenSnowmass website.

More Aspen

Aspen Mountain
Aspen Highlands
Snowmass
10 tips for the best Aspen ski vacation