Snow Trax 8 | New Mexico ski conditions | Ski resort events
Full moon behind skier.

| Our weekly ski conditions update by snowsports journalist Daniel Gibson |

Winter seems to have run out of steam, or I should say, condensation. The snow valve has been largely shut off in the Southwest, and the Rockies in general. For instance, Big Sky, Montana reports just a 39-inch base; Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 49 inches at mid-mountain; and Alta, Utah just 41 inches. Cali isn’t any better, with the greatest depth at Squaw Valley — 39 inches at the bottom and 61 at top.

Mt. Shasta in far Northern California as seen from the Oregon side. Photo by and courtesy of Larry Turner. (Top image) Lake of the Woods in Oregon on a full moon night, January 2016. Photo by and courtesy Larry Turner.

La Niña is showing her stingy nature, as predicted, but that makes the Pacific Northwest the place to head this year. Mt. Hood, Oregon, reports 88 to 129 inches; Mt. Baker, Washington, 150 inches, and Whistler-Blackcomb 100 inches. Interior B.C. is also in the flow, with Kicking Horse enjoying a phenomenal 165 inches at mid-mountain.

But January has historically been a dry month in the region, and we will surly see wetter weather in the months ahead. So while we await the occasional storm to sweep far to the south, I console you with some lines written by author and photographer Larry Turner of Malin, Oregon.

“Winter . . . is a season of deep quiet where knowing becomes absolute, unquestionable. So I go with the light and it goes with me. It brings me poetry of the soul; it makes me complete. I seek it and it glows within my spirit, something beyond words, an eloquence that is eternal. Breath deeply of winter because it breathes deeply of you. It will take its toll if you’re not paying attention . . . but if you are, it will give you gifts that are undeniable. It will give you winter wings.”


Mountain Manager Josh Faber posted some news about snowmaking efforts at Ski SF on Facebook on Jan. 8. He noted, “Snowmaking is our only way to combat a light snowfall year. We need two elements to make snow, electricity and water. We started the year with no electricity and used a million-watt generator to create power to make snow on Midland and Easy Street. No easy task by any stretch. Water is our current hold up. With the dry summer and lack of monsoon season our water source is producing 60 – 70 percent less water than normal. To put this in context, on a cold, low humidity night we can use about a million gallons of water for snowmaking. It is currently taking us 7-9 days to recoup a million gallons of water; we are in this cycle of hurry up to make snow and then must wait for water. We have started making snow on Middle Gayway and plan to continue up Gayway as quickly as we can.”


Ski Santa Fe maintains its 28-inch base, with 52 percent of its terrain open. This includes on the lower mountain Muerte, Desafio and Dr. Rich, but not Thunderbird Bird or T’Bird Glade. On the upper mountain experts should check out Road Runner, Double Eagle V, Avalanche Bowl and Fall Line. There’s food and adult beverage services, with outdoor seating only, at the base and at Totemoff’s. Its ski school and Chipmunk Corner in operation. The “Blue Bus” (Rt. 255 Mountain Trail) is running to the ski area, but reservations are required. Call 866-206-0754 (ext. 2) to secure a ride. It departs the South Capitol Railrunner Station and also picks up passengers at Fort Marcy Park (on Murales Road near Fire Station). The fare is $5 each way (exact cash required). Vets are free.

A snowcat at Taos Ski Valley is out at dawn prepping the slopes for the skiers to come. Photo courtesy TSV

Taos Ski Valley has a 35-inch base at mid-mountain and 48 the top of Chair 7. All the runs on the lower front side are open, except, Ernie’s, North American and Jean’s Glade, and everything on the upper front except Werner’s Chute and Sir Arnold Lunn. This includes Longhorn and Pierre’s. On the backside, all are open except Streetcar, Bob’s Run, El Funko, and Walkyries Chute and Glade. Seven of the 19 named hike-to runs off Highline Ridge are open, and about half of West basin’s slopes.

A novel experience here is the guided morning uphill skiing tour led by the TSV Patrol. Meet at the base of chair 1 at 7 a.m. You must present a lift ticket for the day. Its famed ski and snowboard school is also underway now, with reservations for individuals or small groups.

Wolf Creek has a cushy 64-inch base, having received 165 inches this season so far. All lifts are operating daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Limited food service is available at the Upper Lodge and Prospector Grill, with outdoor seating only.

Angel Fire Resort has a 26-inch base, with 82 inches having fallen so far. All lifts are operating but just 44 percent of its terrain is available. Just two of its advanced runs are open, but its best-in-state Liberation Park is jamming.

Sipapu checks in with a 26-inch base and 26 runs open, including a handful of expert slopes like Lower Wormwood and Oops. Their highest chair, Chair 4, is closed.

Red River has 30 inches and 56 of 63 runs going.

Pajarito and Sandia Peak need more snow to open.

Crested Butte sports a 32-inch base, with 83 inches total this season so far. Some 94 of 160 runs are open, but none of its famed Extreme Limits terrain.

Monarch Mountain has a 26-inch base, with 93 inches to date this season. Every run is open, except Lodge View in Mirkwood Basin.

Telluride has a 31-inch base, with 109 of 148 runs open. Revelation Bowl is closed, as is the Gold Hill hike-to runs and Palmyra Peak hike-to slopes. But a lot of expert terrain is open, such as the frontside Spiral Stairs and Kant-Mak-M, and Electra and Dynamo off the Gold Hill Express.

“To-Hell-You-Ride” is the cover story for the December issue of Ski Magazine, in a hefty 16-page article full of luscious photos of the stunning San Juan Mountains and historic town. It’s full of details on the mountain, town, its dining and lodging options, and things to do off the slopes if you are planning a visit this winter. There’s side stories on Telluride Helitrax and Wagner Skis founder Pete Wagner.

Purgatory comes in with 28 inches, and 84 of 105 runs open, and three of four terrain parks. Only two if its double blacks are skiable, but almost all of its intermediate terrain and all of its beginner slopes.

In a season with almost all special events cancelled, here’s one that’s still up and running. On January 23 – 24, Purg hosts the 18th annual Ski Bike Rally, the longest running ski bike festival in the country. If you have a ski bike, this is the weekend to bring it! There’s a big community of ski bikers out there who will be making Purgatory Resort their home base for the event. Head to the SkiBike tents on the “Beach” for looks at the latest bikes, rentals and purchases as participants exchange ideas on growing the sport.

Dan Gibson
Snowsports journalist Daniel Gibson, photographed at Red River.

Daniel Gibson is the author of New Mexico’s only comprehensive ski guidebook, SkiingNew Mexico: Snow Sports in the Land of Enchantment (UNM Press, 2017). He is a member of the North American Snowsports Journalist Association and has written on the topic for newspapers coast to coast, web sites, and magazines including Powder, Ski and Wintersport Business. His first day on wooden skis with wooden edges came at age 6 in 1960 on a snowy day at the former Santa Fe Ski Basin. He can be reached at [email protected] or via


This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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