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Taos vs Crested Butte in March

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Doing an Early March trip...4 days Telluride/1 day Silverton and will follow that up with either 3 days at Toas OR Crested Butte. Never skied the San Juan's or NM. All strong skiers levels 8-9 and going primarily after the steeps of any kind. Don't mind hiking SOME. Which is better Toas or CB and why? Any downsides to either? Not worried about the logistics of travel, lodging, nightlife etc........ JUST the skiing
Thoughts???
post #2 of 23
Where exactly is Toas?
post #3 of 23
Taos - el nino projected to really ramp up in January, usually benefits the southern resorts the most. Also, CB tends to be cold.
post #4 of 23
The Southern Rockies (Sangre de Cristos and lower colorado inclusive) tend to get similar weather patterns-and both Taos/ Crested Butte-get pretty big year to tear fluctuations (last season was a total washout for Taos-) --I haven't been to Crested Butte-

Taos-when the snow is good is flat out wonderful-and the region is stunningly beautiful (and the eating is dynamite)--the rretro-skiing only culture-much like Alta-makes it great.

BUT--I would NEVER/ EVER book either CB or Taos this far in advance-snow quality and amount is just too sketchy--Taos/CB -I'd book it no sooner than 1 month (and less if possible) before going--yeah-you'll pay moire for the flight--but what's the point of flying if there ain't snow!

March is a great time to ski-- book the tiime off but wait before you pull the trigger on where to go.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bunion View Post
Where exactly is Toas?
It's right near Toast...I think?
post #6 of 23
Even last year, which was arguably one of the worst ever for Taos, or Toas for you stoners out there, was just fine in March. That said, I agree that you should wait as long as possible to choose as snow can be very different in north (CB) vs south (Taos).

One advantage for Taos is that, if you are ok with staying in town, it is not high season and so you can book reasonably easily at the last minute.

Since you are already staying in a resort town and in a very isolated town for the other 2 parts of your trip, i think Taos would be a nice couterpoint. Really cool town oozing culture and, as said above, great food.
post #7 of 23
Oh yeah and the skiing... Both places have great steeps. You have to work for the ridge runs at Taos. CB has a surface lift to get you up to the "Extreme" terrain. But, Taos does a fantastic job of holding the snow and doesn't seem to need as much accumulation to cover the rocks and stumps. Also, Taos has good tree and steep narrow trails on the "front" side if you get tired of the ridge. Or, you can use the high traverse to get to the bottom 3/4 of the runs off the ridge to skier's left if the hike is too much. On the other hand, you are skiing Silverton, which is almost all hiking....
post #8 of 23
I would ski Crested Butte over Taos for the follwoing reasons:
  • Travel times. Montrose, CO airport is almost equi-distant between all the resorts (Crested Butte-Silverton-Telluride). About 1-to-1.5 hrs to each. This means you can switch between resorts in no more than 2-3 hrs. Travel to to Taos is quite long from either Telluride or Silverton -- 3.5-5 hrs.
  • Skiing Terrain.
    • I like the North Face/Headwall region of Crested Butte a lot. It's the best expert terrain in Colorado (IMHO and I've skied Telluride for years) and competes with Whistler/Jackson/Squaw. There are multiple bowls, faces, exposures, chutes, cliffs that confuse, amaze and reward exploration. The local ski shops even sell a guide to the terrain because it is so complex.
    • Taos has good terrain too, but it mostly comes in lower mountain bump runs and The Ridge - narrow chutes on one side, more open chutes on the other. It is much more obvious - more similar to the bumps of Telluride and chutes of Silverton/Telluride.
  • Atmosphere. This might work more in Taos' favor. NM is unique - the food, culture, Hispanic influences. Crested Butte is more like smaller Telluride - with prices a little cheaper.
They are both really good choices and it's too bad you cannot do them both.
post #9 of 23
I would go with Crested Butte. The steeps are easily accessed with little or no hiking. If you go the first week of march (pre spring break?) there will be no lift lines. A long lift line at CB is waiting 5 min. Most days you are off in less than 2 min. (except for the north face lift, that takes 10) There is plenty of terrain to challenge you or scare you. The town is great, lots of bars/restaurants. Checkout the Secret Stash for some of the best pizza in the world.
post #10 of 23
Taos and the Butte are both excellent areas. I stongly agree with Liam that the conditions between the two can vary tremendously, so it would not be advisable to choose any sooner than you have to.

I live more or less between Taos and Telluride and usually drive to both several times a season. From Telluride to Taos is 5 1/2 hours if the roads are decent. Tres Piedras Pass is closed after 6:00 at night which would add another hour if you do not time the drive right. Plus almost the entire drive is on narrow twisty two lanes roads.

Telluride to Crested Butte is a much easier drive on much better roads and a couple of hours shorter. Both areas have great steeps that require lots of snow, so the one with the better base would have the better steep skiing. If all things are equal I prefer the Butte. Almost half the area is rated double black diamond. At Taos you need to hike to much of the steep skiing.

If you go to Crested Butte you can stay cheap in Gunnison and get cheap lift tickets at your motel, which are not available if you stay in the Butte. The drive to the area is not any longer than from Taos to the ski hill. Gunnison also has the optiion of cat-skiing at Monarch.
post #11 of 23
Pick up a copy of the Extreme Limits Guide if you pick Crested Butte.
http://www.alpineer.com/istar.asp?a=...class%3D001%26

The Alpineer is located on the corner right where you enter town.
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post
Taos and the Butte are both excellent areas. I stongly agree with Liam that the conditions between the two can vary tremendously, so it would not be advisable to choose any sooner than you have to.

I live more or less between Taos and Telluride and usually drive to both several times a season. From Telluride to Taos is 5 1/2 hours if the roads are decent. Tres Piedras Pass is closed after 6:00 at night which would add another hour if you do not time the drive right. Plus almost the entire drive is on narrow twisty two lanes roads.
But, I'd think, if you're going down to Durango from Telluride, I'd probably take US 160 from Durango all the way to Fort Garland (US160 from the east side of Wolf Creek Pass has higher speed limits) and the road south from Fort Galand to Taos is fairly straight, with no passes to cross. It is pretty deserted, but most roads in S Colorado and N NM are that way. I would advise against using Red Mountain Pass as much as possible - it is one of the few really dangerous high mountain passes in the state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post
Telluride to Crested Butte is a much easier drive on much better roads and a couple of hours shorter...
agreed

Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post
If you go to Crested Butte you can stay cheap in Gunnison and get cheap lift tickets at your motel, which are not available if you stay in the Butte. The drive to the area is not any longer than from Taos to the ski hill. Gunnison also has the optiion of cat-skiing at Monarch.
if you stay in the Taos Ski Valley or at some of the many B & B's between Taos and the ski valley and not in the town of Taos, the drive is considerably less. However, the drive from Gunnison to Crested Butte is a lot flatter.

Oh, and I used to live about 10 miles west of mudfoot. I would definitely wait as long as possible to make those plans, because of weather conditions.
post #13 of 23
[quote=icanseeformiles(andmiles);557833]But, I'd think, if you're going down to Durango from Telluride, I'd probably take US 160 from Durango all the way to Fort Garland (US160 from the east side of Wolf Creek Pass has higher speed limits) and the road south from Fort Galand to Taos is fairly straight, with no passes to cross. It is pretty deserted, but most roads in S Colorado and N NM are that way. I would advise against using Red Mountain Pass as much as possible - it is one of the few really dangerous high mountain passes in the state.

Definitely skip Red Mt. Pass in the winter if at all possible. It is true that it is an easier drive down the east side of the continental divide to Taos, but that involves going over Wolf Creek Pass, which has had construction going on for the last few years. Even if you don't get stopped for construction I still prefer to avoid it in the winter if possible. It has only been open without delays at night and on weekends, and the delays could be an hour. I don't know the current status of the construction delays. Tres Piedras Pass is a much mellower drive, but if you happen to be skiing the Wolf Creek ski area on the way to Taos it is definitely better to go down the east side of the Pass.
post #14 of 23
We were in CB last March 2006 and there was so little snow at Taos that the people that had gone there were now in CB.

As someone said above I would do CB mainly due to travel times. You should be able to get an extra ski day in compared to going to Taos and back.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattL View Post
We were in CB last March 2006 and there was so little snow at Taos that the people that had gone there were now in CB.
Yes, but the year before taos had much more snow. the advice to wait until closer to the trip is still the best. If it's a matter of this one has a little more snow than the other, it's moot. but sometimes the difference can be major and can mean the differnce of what terrain is open.
post #16 of 23
Year in year out the snow quality at Taos is far superior to that of CB, even though that was not the case last year. CB is now the story of east goes west to re-make a western ski area. Unless you plan on only skiing the extreme areas of CB, be prepared for an over-groomed experience. CB is now the king of corduroy.

I've first skied CB 30 years ago, I've enjoyed skiing at CB over the years, I love the town, but CB is not in the same league as TSV in my opinion. Good skiers will enjoy both mountains, lesser skiers will prefer CB because there is more intermediate terrain.

Bottom line: you can't go wrong with either choice. You're fortunate to be faced with such a tough choice.
post #17 of 23
In terms of reliability Taos and Crested Butte are very similar areas. Steep terrain that needs lots of cover, gradual accumulation of light and dry snow, high altitude and good preservation. Thus March is the optimal time for both areas. Taos averages more snow but is also more volatile, as was demonstrated last year.

I think the advocates for each have stated their cases well in terms of terrain.

Given the reliability issues the advice to make a late decision has some merit. The best way to do that is to book your flight to Durango. You'll be able to drive to either from there and you can choose the area at the last minute.

I wouldn't worry that much about holding off the whole trip. You only need one of the two areas to be OK.
post #18 of 23
[quote=Tony Crocker;559557]In terms of reliability Taos and Crested Butte are very similar areas. Taos averages more snow but is also more volatile, as was demonstrated last year.

I respectfully disagree with these statements. Year in year out snow is far superior at TSV. CB has good snow years but rarely great snow years. Last year was on the great side of the equation for CB. A bad snow year does not make an area more volatile, it only shows a change in short term weather patterns. Even Wolfcreek had snow problems for much of the season last year, and I would never call their snowfall potential volatile. Epic is the word that comes to mind. I guess it could be argued with some measure of success that weather patterns in general have been volatile for the last 10 years, with larger swings in short term weather patterns throughout the Rocky Mountains.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
Yes, but the year before taos had much more snow. the advice to wait until closer to the trip is still the best. If it's a matter of this one has a little more snow than the other, it's moot. but sometimes the difference can be major and can mean the differnce of what terrain is open.
During the 04/05 season, I don't recall there being more than 4 days straight without snowfall. It was a fat ski season that year.
post #20 of 23
My 2-cents,

I have skied both a few times and would pick Taos. Both are great mountains for strong skiers looking for steeps. Personally, I think Taos has a slight edge on fun and steep terrain. I'm not sure what CB's altitude is, but I do know the hike to the top at Taos is over 12,000.Taos has little or no intermediate terrain while CB has tons of beginner and intermediate stuff. (although it is not near the part of the mountain where you would be skiing.) My point is that the next time you are in that part of the world for a ski trip you may have, to put it in a politically correct manner, less adept skiers along who would hate you for taking them to Taos.

Another reason I would choose Taos is the unique collision of spanish, native american and old west cultures that collide there along with a striong arts scene. It just makes for a very interesting place.

I would say don't book anything and just drive to where the best conditions are, but I think that CO is pretty booked up at that time of year so you may need to book lodging well in advance.
post #21 of 23
Crested Butte has a greater diversity of expert terrain - open faces, steeps, chutes, trees, bowls - at low skier densities.

Headwall


North Face






Banana/Funnel

post #22 of 23
OH heck. how can a NMcn let that go unchallenged? Taos has open steeps and lots and lots of steep trees and chutes too. You just have to hike for some of it. And I really don't think you can call Taos more crowded than CB. I've not seen one more crowded than the other and the hiking keeps the steeper terrain a lot less trafficed. You may have to hike for Taos, but you have to walk out at the bottom of a lot of the steep stuff in CB....

from the TSV website. only a few of the areas of the ridge and kachina.



post #23 of 23
I rechecked my own numbers and volatility (long term standard deviation of monthly snowfall) of Taos and CB is similar. My earlier comment was based upon subjective impression that Taos gets both more huge seasons and horrible seasons than CB. Average snowfall of 264 at Taos vs. 244 at CB doesn't equate to "far superior" IMHO. Both areas average 5% of winter months over 90 inches snowfall. Months under 30 inches are 32% at Taos and 40% at CB.

Taos does have the slight edge in snow, but it's clear to me that the wisest choice is to set up the trip so you can choose between them as late as possible. Both have sufficiently interesting terrain that I would make the decision based upon snow conditions.
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