Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

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Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

Postby EMSC » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:23 am

Unique
For the first day of the family trip to New Mexico I had thought about adding in a second resort because I like to check out new places and also figured the family would want more than just the very steep portions of Taos for 3 days in a row.

I checked out a couple possibilities including Red River, and was shocked to find that all the resorts near Taos were closing on March 24th for the season. It never occurred to me that they wouldn’t stay open until at least the last day of March… especially in a year with such good snow.

Anyway on the drive down Saturday afternoon I checked again while talking with the family and found the snow report page for Angel Fire touting $55 final day discounted lift tickets so the choice was made…

The drive over from Taos is about 40 minutes.

For all intents and purposes there are two lifts (ignoring beginner and terrain park double chairs). Basically a frontside and a backside. Both lifts are detachable quads and oh my goodness thank god the frontside is detachable. It’s one of the longest lifts out there, or certainly feels that way. Just over 2,000 verts but spread over nearly 2 miles in length. I can completely understand why they did the lift that way. There’s no way they probably can afford a 3rd major lift and staff it and etc… It gives them summer scenic rides and tons of MTB trails in the summer. However, it makes the front side ski super annoyingly for skiers.

The first 75% of the Chile Express is mostly low angle or even completely flat at times, then is suddenly pops upward over a nicely steep upper hump/section to the top. Probably 700+ vert is on the very last section of the lift…

The backside is a much more logically laid out lift with over 1300 verts serving a combination of trails from actual steeps to very low angle groomers.

The steep stuff was actually steep on the shorter trails, but probably only 500 verts (eg minder bender) or moderately steep for more like 800-900 (eg Nice Day). Angels Plunge was super interesting starting as a tree run before having a short steep slash cut in the trees for a steep section far from the other trails. I would guess in a good snow year like this you could ski many tree lines from that ridge back into the Hells Bells run. Unfortunately, several runs were closed including the black runs to lookers far left (Nitro, etc.. as well as Maxwells and Silver on front side). Based on the trail cuts for Nitro it seems they either had a lift over there or intended to put one there, but if they open them it appears to be a fairly long slog of an up-hill hike to them in todays era. No idea if they are worth it…

We spent more time on the backside without the super long run-out though also skied a number of laps on the front. The place was practically deserted and you could fairly easily find freshly groomed snow even in the mid-afternoon. It had been cold and 6” of new snow in recent days with it being winter snow top to bottom to start and then softening through the day with only a few sections of steeper and more north facing not turning by the end of the day.

Despite the low pitch of much of it, my family completely enjoyed having gone there for the day. And just enough steep-ish stuff to keep me interested for one day as well.

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beginner zone at the base


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upper pitch on the front side


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Most of those blues are on the low angle side of things.


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Backside with the steeper stuff on lookers right


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probably the shortest steep run


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looking down Nice Day. I assume the tank is snowmaking water, the blue building is snowmaking/maint shed of some sort and the A-Frame building must be private? there is a small hut next to it for patrol, but did not look like it was avaiaalble for public use of any kind.


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Looking across the backside terrain.


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frontside groomer


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Frontside steeps (well until you hit the 1.5 mile run-out).


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Frontside


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Happy family = happy life


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Looking down the pitch on the frontside
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Re: Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

Postby EMSC » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:27 am

Couple more pics, just cause.

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Approaching 2p and lots of fresh corduroy to find.


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Snow turned to heavy stuff from winter snow on some aspects.


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San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Rancho de Taos. very new by Taos standards (built 1772 - 1816), but a beautiful example of adobe architecture.
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Re: Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:14 pm

Glad that you went there; the first FTOer since my wife and I ten years earlier and Admin nine years before us! We felt the same way as you: fine for a day with the family.

EMSC wrote:all the resorts near Taos were closing on March 24th for the season

Ski Apache, 225 miles south of Taos, stayed open through March 31. I guess that Texans are more avid spring skiers than the Okies.
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Re: Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:38 pm

From Google Earth, Angel Fire's backside is north facing. The upper frontside is west facing; the lower frontside is so flat that its exposure is irrelevant. The frontside cannot be a good recipe for spring skiing. You were lucky to have the winter snow.

Our ski day at Apache was April 5, 1993. As that was a Monday, it was surely open to April 11. But that was a big year. During that last week this season, Ski Apache was closed Monday-Wednesday.

Ruidoso is not quite 2 hours shorter drive from Dallas than Taos. It's still 8+ hours, but probably some Texans consider that weekend driving range. I believe Ruidoso is primarily a summer resort town, so it's probably reasonably priced during ski season.

Ski Apache
Season Opening Closing
18/19 12/07/2018 03/31/2019 (estimated)
17/18 12/15/2017 03/25/2018
16/17 12/09/2016 03/17/2017
15/16 11/26/2015 03/27/2016
14/15 11/27/2014 04/04/2015

Season Opening Closing
Snow Depth
17/18 23″ --
16/17 -- 11″
15/16 9″ --
14/15 23″ 24″

Closing base depth in 2019 was reported 42 inches, but season snowfall is stated as 71.5 inches. I suspected it didn't snow a lot down there as snowfall declined from ~140% in southern Colorado to average in northern New Mexico. As tough as Taos and northern New Mexico have had it in recent seasons, it must have been worse that much farther south.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

Postby EMSC » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:29 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:the first FTOer since my wife and I ten years earlier and Admin nine years before us!


Yeah, when I looked Admin provided no detail and yours was also pretty brief with just 2 pics, so I went with the long description and pics for any future reference any FTO's may want to have about the place. Being 'under the radar' I knew you had to have hit it at some point :)


Tony Crocker wrote:The upper frontside is west facing;

There are several of the steeper trails that are more NW-ish preserving snow condition better than might otherwise be expected on the front.

My take is that it was much worse snow further south. I always use the following link for reference of how well various ski regions are doing. https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/gis/images/west_swepctnormal_update.png

Northern NM is above average with the mountains around Apache at 0% as of today?
west_swepctnormal_update.png
Official Gov't data, so it must be accurate.
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Re: Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:08 pm

EMSC wrote:yours was also pretty brief with just 2 pics

For the record: three well-composed in-action pix + two mid-mountain-lodge pix + a nice video (unfortunately no longer supported by Photobucket) in the backside trees
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Re: Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:52 pm

EMSC wrote:I always use the following link for reference of how well various ski regions are doing. https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/gis/image ... update.png

Yes, the OpenSnow guys use that map periodically. There are some caveats as we move into spring. April 1 is typically near the peak snowpack at higher elevations, so a decent surrogate for snowfall. So I understand why Joel uses SNOTEL's to estimate snowfall. Colorado is where that method surely works best, with zero rain and very little loss of snowpack before April.

In drought years or at low elevations the snowpack starts declining earlier. Ski Apache's snowfall percentage obviously wasn't zero, it was probably in the 50% range.

The PNW, western Canada and much of the US northern Rockies were very dry in March as the storms went farther south. Those areas were above average in early season and are still around 90% of season snowfall through the end of March. But that dry March melted some of that snowpack at low elevation, thus the percentages in the 70's and 80's on that map.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

Postby EMSC » Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:31 pm

You should see the %'s super early or super late in the season. Sometimes in the 1000's of %, lol.

The point was that apparently they had so little snow in that basin where Apache is that it has effectively melted out by very early April (I'm sure not quite that literally, but at the measuring stations that are the key indicators of the snowpack down there).
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Re: Angel Fire, NM 3-24-19

Postby snowave » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:08 am

unfortunately, I believe those SWE maps are going away this year, due to resource constraints, etc. although, that note say's May of 2018, so not sure if that is a typo or if they are not nixing them after all.
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