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Taos Ski Vally Advice

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

This is my first trip to Taos this next week. I'm a solid intermediate who is wanting to try out some of my first blacks. Do you have any suggestions for what trails might be a good start? I don't want to get way in over my head. I of course have aspirations of skiing main street on kachina peak, but realize that is a ways away. Any help is appreciated. 

post #2 of 6

I went to Taos for the first time last month. It was just a 24-hour trip up from Albuquerque with my teenage intermediate sons, so I did not get a chance to try any of the truly challenging terrain. However, perhaps our experience will be relevant to you.

 

One boy is a very solid intermediate who routinely skis runs labeled "black" in Pennsylvania. Those runs have nothing in common with the blacks at Taos! A groomed blue run at Taos that has a steep stretch would be labeled black out here, and an ungroomed blue at Taos with moguls would be labeled double-black here. The black runs at Taos are truly deserving of that designation -- very steep, long, and with huge moguls unless there has just been a major snowstorm. The very first lift up the mountain is right over Al's Run, which will give you an idea of what the single-blacks are like. The hike-to terrain (culminating with Main Street) requires excellent skiing skills and the ability to self-arrest yourself if you fall because you will otherwise slide to the bottom in a crumpled heap. Do not ignore the sign at the start of the trail!

 

In short, the honest answer to your question regarding what black runs to start with may be "none of them." That being said, if you really want to try one that you can get out of easily, Zagava and Showoff are short connectors between blue runs.

 

All that being said, the setting is so beautiful that you will have lots of fun at Taos. Even the blue runs will provide plenty of variety and challenge. I believe you can find out in advance which are groomed and which are not. My other, less-advanced son had to bail out at the top of Mucho Gusto (walking a few yards back up to Lower Stauffenberg) because we suddenly came upon some moguls he was not ready to handle. However, he pronounced Lower Stauffenberg "the best run of his life" after his first time on it. Both boys thought it was the greatest place they had ever skied (it was also their first time at a Western ski area). Lift 8 was better in the morning but got windy in the afternoon, at which time Life 4 was better.

 

One more tip: Do not get on Chair 7 while wearing a bulky backpack! It is slow and has no safety bar, and it is unpleasant to feel as if your backback is trying to push you off the chair. I experienced vertigo the last time on it because my sons had crammed my little pack with sweaters they no longer needed and I only had about half of my butt on the chair. The other option to get back to the base is via Rubezahl, which I heard was rather flat and may require pushing.

 

post #3 of 6

I was just up at Taos yesterday --- definitely spring skiing conditions, though a storm is supposed to roll through tomorrow and Monday. The lower parts of the mountain were icy in the morning, slushy in the afternoon, but the upper parts were good all day.

 

In terms of what runs to do, jeff2010 is right: pretty much everything is steeper than you expect there. If you're a solid intermediate, then I would suggest starting out over at Lift 8. It usually has good snow in the morning, and has several good runs for warming up (and seeing what counts as a blue at Taos). If your legs are feeling good, then Tell Glade (not really a glade) is a nice short bump run that happens to be a black.

 

Personally, I like to move over to the backside by late morning, especially doing laps on Lift 4. If you're feeling up to it, a short hike (or skate, depending on conditions) takes you over to Hunziker Bowl. That's a great area --- all black runs, but plenty of different routes. (I don't know the conditions right now, though, since I was skiing with my 8-year-old yesterday and she hasn't quite worked up the courage to do blacks at Taos.)

 

Finally, *if* Taos gets enough snow from this storm, then the blacks on the front side of the mountain are wonderful, long bump runs. Everyone knows Al's Run, but if you are able to do them, then Inferno & Spencer's are equally good, and often better. (I thought that area was pretty icy yesterday, though, so hope for some snow!)

post #4 of 6

Sign up for a Ski Week.  Two hour group lessons every day for 6 days for $100-$235. You'll get sorted by ability and how aggressive you want to be then spend the week with the same group and instructor.  They'll seriously have you skiing stuff you never thought you would. The first time I went, I did it.  At the beginning of the week I looked at people skiing some of the steeper mogul and tree filled run and thought they were nuts.  A few days later I was skiing the same trails.

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by curih View Post

Sign up for a Ski Week.  Two hour group lessons every day for 6 days for $100-$235. You'll get sorted by ability and how aggressive you want to be then spend the week with the same group and instructor.  They'll seriously have you skiing stuff you never thought you would. The first time I went, I did it.  At the beginning of the week I looked at people skiing some of the steeper mogul and tree filled run and thought they were nuts.  A few days later I was skiing the same trails.


Very neat idea.  Great value.  Ends 3/25.  Did a clinic elsewhere that was mornings only.  Find that much better than full-day because there is time to practice, explore, or take it easy in the afternoons.

 

http://www.skitaos.org/content/ski-weeks

 

post #6 of 6

Ok, so once you get to Taos, take the advice and try out some of the blue runs to get your ski legs.  If you enjoy Porcupine (front side blue, with a fairly steep headwall halfway down), then here are a few suggestions for some of the easier blacks:

 

 

Front side--  Zagava.  this is a short, steep run, can be found halfway down Bambi.  It is often shaved, but can have powder piles on it.  It can be hardpack and powdery at the same time.  If it is hardpack, you want good edges on your skis.  Easy to take a look at it from Bambi without committing.

 

Back side--   Moes:  this is a short run, often bumped.  It also gets groomed occasionally.    Ruby Gully:  This is a short black under Lift 4.  The right side is bumped, but this year they've been pretty consistently grooming the main pitch on the left.   Hunziker:  At the top of lift 4, exit and go as far left as possible.  You have to do a short hike (herringbone) to Hunziker, but it has been groomed more often than not this year.  Starts out wide, then narrows to a steeper choke.  Then a long run out to another short headwall.  

 

Main street on Kachina is actually a very nice run-- wide, and not as steep as some of the front side runs.  However, the hike is quite strenuous and steep in spots.   Most people will do Juarez for their first attempt at hike to terrain at Taos.

 

Enjoy! 

 

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