Taos Ski Valley
Reviewed by Nick Heil
Nov 06, 2008
Seven things you need to know to ski Angel Fire.
Seven things you need to know to ski Red River.
The Stash: Take Sunset, skier’s right of the Tesuque Peak chair. Wiggle through the fir, and tuck onto slender Luge, before dropping into boulder-strewn Avalanche Basin.
The first thing you see when you come to Taos is Al’s Run, the impossibly long, bumped-out pitch that towers out of the resort’s base. While Al’s defines Taos, poke around the mountain’s nooks and crannies, and you’ll find long groomers and gentle tree-lined runs, rugged chutes, and craggy alpine faces. Bang out powder laps on the West Basin’s expert-only terrain and hike 12,481-foot Kachina Peak—the venue for the New Mexico Extreme Freeriding Championships—to pillage open bowls and cliffy lines. Then grab a brew and rest your weary legs on the deck of the St. Bernard.
Powder Day: Smile at the hordes flocking to Highline Ridge as you detour midway and hike to less-visited West Basin Ridge. Drop into 45-degree, two-ski-lengths-wide Stauffenberg; then work the Fabian, Oster, and Spitfire chutes, three cliff-constricted runnels to skier’s right.
Three days later: Follow Highline Ridge as if you’re going all the way to Kachina Peak, veering skier’s right on an adjacent ridge with tight, low-angle trees. Drop right again, into Twin Trees Chute: 35 degrees and 800 vertical feet that start in a pinched couloir and end in an open meadow.
Park and Pipe: Strut your stuff on the few respectable double jumps, tabletops, ramps, and rails on Maxie’s, under Maxie’s lift.
Backcountry: There’s no lift-served backcountry access from Taos Ski Valley, but you can skin and hike nearby Peak Nine or Lake Fork Peak for burly 45-degree, 1,500-vertical-foot off-piste lines. The terrain is susceptible to avalanches, so check avalanche.org pre-trip.
Weather: Taos’s 300-plus sunny days can be a blessing and a curse. But when storms from the central Rockies clip northern New Mexico, they can drop surprising loads of snow, mostly in January and March.
Après: The Taos tribe gathers for beer and margaritas on the deck of the St. Bernard before migrating to Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina in the village center for enchiladas ($7) doused in green and red chile sauces.
Fuel: Preload on huevos rancheros at The Bean, in town. Midday, spread out on the St. Bernard deck for top-flight green-chile cheeseburgers ($7) custom-dressed at a condiment bar that includes sauerkraut and salsa.
Up All Night: Grab a Sicilian slice at Taos Pizza Out Back, or try the bar menu at Joseph’s Table—the more casual appendix to one of northern New Mexico’s best restaurants. Afterward, walk across the Taos plaza to the Alley Cantina for top-shelf tequila.