Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

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Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby EMSC » Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:31 pm

My first time in Taos.

General impression of the area is: Unique place. Lots of potential for experts like myself, but not a ski area for everyone IMO. The blue & green that they do have generally involves a whole lot of zig-zagging, criss-crossing, and catwalks to get around.

Day 1 (day 4 of trip): Somewhat a similar story to our CB & WC days earlier in the week with chalky snow on north facing steeps. However the other slopes at Taos had much worse conditions than anything else I have skied yet this spring. All of the blue & greens had clearly been pure slush at some point and then refrozen. The upper frontside was as icy as the east usually is after a thaw/freeze cycle (10am start time). It was also a very windy day. So we headed to the backside where the lower lift had snow that was beginning to corn up. Taos also clearly had not had new snow in a while and had much thinner bases (at least on the lower parts) than either CB or WC (to the point of a few small bare spots beginning to show in windy places or the very, very bottom).

After a few blue runs with my wife and with a predicted snow for Sunday (that never happened), I chose to do the full Kachina hike. I figure I did the hike in ~55min – not great, but not too bad for a desk jockey either. Good chalky snow in main vein and in whatever the first chute to skiers right of that is - I’ll have to look at the skiing mag article again (the tighter chutes further skiers right were a weird sugar/chunky snow so I skipped them, being alone). The long hike killed any ambition of further hike runs for the day and I finished off with a few more spring ski runs with my wife before heading down the still mostly frozen frontside.

Taos is a very unique place to check out afterward. Though we ate at Ranchos Taos a couple miles further down the road and a whole lot less touristy. I found it interesting that Ranchos Taos is actually older. We did eventually wander around Taos square where nearly every shop had closed by 6pm! Definitely not Breck or Vail or PC, etc...! My wife & I also were surprised by the enormous piles and piles of junk/crap in many of the yards (as well as the huge abundance of single wide’s all over the place, especially right next to mansions)

Day 2 (day 5 of trip): Warmer from the start, though the frontside cut trails were still an icy mess even at 11am when we tried it again. It only softened up in afternoon finally. The backside cut trails started off creamy and by mid afternoon was slush galore. Fortunately I had hiked the ridge for my turns for much of the day. Hitting a number of frontside chutes with chalky snow and also Jaurez toward the backside. I forget the name of my favorite (I have a pic with the trail sign in it when I get to those), but at only 3-5 minutes or so per hike, I was able to get a number of good runs in. All in all a great spring ski day with us leaving by ~2:30 for the long trip home after a fun 5 day “SW sampler” road trip.

Pics to follow – maybe tonight or Tues.
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re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby SoCal Rider » Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:53 pm

EMSC - Anything of note having to do with snowboarders?
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Re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby ChrisC » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:05 pm

EMSC wrote:Taos also clearly had not had new snow in a while and had much thinner bases (at least on the lower parts) than either CB or WC (to the point of a few small bare spots beginning to show in windy places or the very, very bottom).


Taos' snow reporting is a little suspect - primary its base report. Taos - 96".

Comparatively, Wolf Creek - 120", Crested Butte - 90", Telluride - 83", Durango - 75".

I find you cannot compare apples-to-apples with Taos snow base reporting - because there will always be less snow on the trails. However, Taos is consistent in how they report on a year-to-year basis. So when the mountain says 80"+ it will start to get good. However, I have found it very rocky at 60".
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Re: re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby ChrisC » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:10 pm

SoCal Rider wrote:EMSC - Anything of note having to do with snowboarders?


Well, obviously a few have come to town since they are newly allowed....they are starting to set up camp as indicated below. :lol:

My wife & I also were surprised by the enormous piles and piles of junk/crap in many of the yards (as well as the huge abundance of single wide’s all over the place, especially right next to mansions)
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re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby EMSC » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:51 pm

Anything of note having to do with snowboarders?


Not so much really. Not a ton of them on the hill, but definitely a few and all over - terrain park, Kachina peak, etc... The average boarder seemed a bit above average in skills (didn't really see any beginners/low intermediate boarders). The weirdest thing was big signs at every lift "Drop Your High Back". When questioned the lifties said it was for boarders to fold down the rear binding. Though I didn't see any lifts at Taos that appeared to have lower hanging objects than any other ski area/lifts I've ever ridden on my board... (though I was skiing this trip).

Taos' snow reporting is a little suspect - primary its base report


Very suspect indeed. Maybe in a snowdrift it's accurate. But the steeps did have good coverage so I'd guess at least 60"+ for the upper mtn ridge/Kachina areas (takes roughly 60" at A-Basin for good steeps coverage too).
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Re: re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby SoCal Rider » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:36 pm

ChrisC wrote:
SoCal Rider wrote:EMSC - Anything of note having to do with snowboarders?


Well, obviously a few have come to town since they are newly allowed....they are starting to set up camp as indicated below. :lol:

My wife & I also were surprised by the enormous piles and piles of junk/crap in many of the yards (as well as the huge abundance of single wide’s all over the place, especially right next to mansions)


Ha, ha, I thought of something similar. I got to get rid of that darn inferiority complex.
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Re: re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby SoCal Rider » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:40 pm

EMSC wrote:Not so much really. Not a ton of them on the hill, but definitely a few and all over - terrain park, Kachina peak, etc... The average boarder seemed a bit above average in skills (didn't really see any beginners/low intermediate boarders). The weirdest thing was big signs at every lift "Drop Your High Back". When questioned the lifties said it was for boarders to fold down the rear binding. Though I didn't see any lifts at Taos that appeared to have lower hanging objects than any other ski area/lifts I've ever ridden on my board... (though I was skiing this trip).


I saw the same at Alpine Meadows (Chris might be able to verify). But I've only been to a dozen or so places.
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re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:03 pm

Taos also clearly had not had new snow in a while
March 17, and only a few inches then. Taos had 3 feet in early March, probably while I was in La Grave. FYI Wolf Creek has had a big 3 inches since Feb. 27.

I agree with Chris about Taos snow reporting. It is consistent and you want them to be reporting 75-80 inches before you can go running around the steeps without watching your step very closely. I've had a few locals there make the same comment without any prompting from me.
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re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby EMSC » Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:25 pm

Pics for you. 1 of 2 pics posts - I'm just too visually oriented...
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Tight quarters for the base area/initial lift. Though it does get you up & out of there in a hurry.
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Kachina Peak (right) from top of the lifts.
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Top of Kachina Peak with Wheeler Peak in the background.
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Looking north from Kachina. The foreground mtn/ridge is part of the ski area.
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The chutes to skiers right off Kachina Peak. I did the right/easier side (as seen in the pic). Left chute had chunky, funky snow in it for some reason.
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Oddball little chair 7a, but note the over sized new signs for snowboarders.
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The name reminded me of Greek Peak with a flat green run of the exact same name. Prominent self arrest signs at nearly every steep run... Maybe they help scare off the intermediates from trying?
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Not exactly a lot of snow left in the pkg lots area...
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re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby EMSC » Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:38 pm

2nd set of pics. Sorry, no action. I was by myself for the steep stuff...
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taos9.JPG
Down in Ranchos Taos... a couple miles further down the road than the better known tourist square.
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taos10.JPG
I think Taos has been here for a bit already...
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taos11.JPG
My favorite chute on the ridge (so far. A lot of the ridge faces east and was closed)
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This whole section of the front side of the ridge had great chalky snow. With the best snow further right (in the pic).
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Headed back north/home with the Sangre de Cristo's from about 40 miles or more away...
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Re: re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby ChrisC » Wed Apr 02, 2008 9:57 am

SoCal Rider wrote:
EMSC wrote:Not so much really. Not a ton of them on the hill, but definitely a few and all over - terrain park, Kachina peak, etc... The average boarder seemed a bit above average in skills (didn't really see any beginners/low intermediate boarders). The weirdest thing was big signs at every lift "Drop Your High Back". When questioned the lifties said it was for boarders to fold down the rear binding. Though I didn't see any lifts at Taos that appeared to have lower hanging objects than any other ski area/lifts I've ever ridden on my board... (though I was skiing this trip).


I saw the same at Alpine Meadows (Chris might be able to verify). But I've only been to a dozen or so places.


I'm really the wrong one to ask to be observant about "Drop Your High Back" signs. I have only snowboarded a few times and restrict my toys to skis and teleskis.

Alpine - I generally ski on the more modern, high capacity lifts - like the HS Summit, Roundhouse, and Sherwood - or the standard triples like Lakeview and Scotts. You can access the entire mountain from them.

Looking at the pics - and the Taos relic that has the sign - maybe some of the older lifts have them - like the old Sherwood chair or Alpine chair.

Not sure.
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re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby EMSC » Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:11 pm

ChrisC,

I only took a pic of that lift because it was such a goofy lift. They had the big red signs at most of the lifts (that I specifically recall), and may have had the signs at every lift on the mtn...


The other odd thing is that Alpine is Powdr Corp owned; So you'd think Park City, Las Vegas, Killington, etc... would have signs like that as well if Alpine does.
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re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby ChrisC » Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:36 pm

EMSC,

Did you find the Taos ski patrol rather conservative about closure of expert runs?

My experience - that a lot of the expert skiing is open for very narrow windows. Especially the east-facing runs. Essentially, hey are only reliably open between 9am-noonish. This is really the best terrain - look at the map below.

Image

I am aware about wet slides. My brother lost a friend in one in the San Juans BC. And I am aware of this one at ABasin


Image



However, I have not seen any resort by as restrictive as Taos on its opening schedule of runs that are well-consolidated / almost skied into bumps.

For example, even Lorelie Trees - heavily gladed yet closed at noon-1pm frame.

Who are they saving the goods for? The Ridge reminds me of Alta/Bird or Squaw's Palisades with more trees.
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The Ridge
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re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby ChrisC » Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:42 pm

The name reminded me of Greek Peak with a flat green run of the exact same name. Prominent self arrest signs at nearly every steep run... Maybe they help scare off the intermediates from trying?


The Castor and Pollux combination of Taos is a little different than the one at Greek Peak.
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re: Taos, NM 3-29&30-08

Postby EMSC » Wed Apr 02, 2008 2:07 pm

Not sure I can reliably comment too much on the restrictiveness of their openings. I spent a decent chunk of each of my two days skiing with my wife.

But, I can tell you that all of the stuff with Walkyries in the name was simply closed (that I ever saw). Never tried the Lorelie section at all, but was sure closed in the afternoon when I went by it on day 1. Also, most of the frontside ridge that faces true east was closed - or about the right half of your picture. Much of the backside ridge was open, though a few closed items mixed in there as well.

I should have taken a picture of their excessively detailed open/closed board. I don't know that I've seen one with so many names listed on it before. A-basin, for example, has at most a dozen items on it's open/closed boards, not the 40+ items of Taos.
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