| Written by Daniel Gibson |
Top photo: A skier on the hike-to-run Hidalgo at Taos Ski Valley shows why it ranks highly for challenge, snow and scenery. Photo courtesy Taos Ski Valley. |
Kudos for Crested Butte, Taos Ski Valley, and Telluride
Ski Magazine’s annual resort guide finds three regional ski area ranked in the top 25 of the American West. The reader survey, released in October 2021, places Crested Butte at #21, Taos Ski Valley at #7, and Telluride at #6.
Those are incredible results, considering they placed ahead of such stalwarts as Snowbird Utah (#28); Alta, Utah (#27); Big Sky, Montana (#25); Revelstoke, British Columbia (#23); Vail, Colorado (#20); Breckenridge, Colorado (#17); Jackson Hole, Wyoming (#15), and other major resorts. Finishing first was Sun Valley, Idaho; in second was Deer Valley, Utah; third was Aspen Snowmass, Colorado; fourth was Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia; and fifth was Banff Sunshine, Alberta.
About TSV, the story — titled “The 30 Best Ski Resorts in the West” — said it was ranked highly for its challenge and overall satisfaction. But it lagged in access and nightlife. One respondent wrote, “Their Adult Ski Week is unparalleled — every time I go, I advance my skills.” The story cites the recent lift improvements and The Blake hotel as game changers, and its charm in the form of the town of Taos and Taos Pueblo. It accurately says it’s a place that “puts skiing first.” For eats, it suggests dinner at The Bavarian.
On Telluride, the story states it is notable for its variety of terrain and “top-notch” dining, and as negatives its difficult access and value. One reader wrote it is “the most beautiful ski area, hands down, in the U.S.” The article says that the town and ski area’s setting at the end of a box canyon in Southern Colorado’s mighty San Juan mountains attracts many visitors, but other attributes keep them coming back. It cites such diverse activities as taking in a local hockey match, night ice skating on the town’s outdoor rink, skiing its “knee-knocking ski terrain,” lack of crowds, and dining at venues like 221 South Oak.
For the complete article, visit https://www.skimag.com/ski-resort-life/resort-guide-2022/best-west-us-ski-resorts/
Red River Accolades
Red River, New Mexico, also received some love when USA Today recently announced that it is currently the number one ski town in North America, besting many other large, highly regarded ski destinations.
The paper says ‘Ski Town of the Southwest,’ offers excellent learning experiences for everyone, non-existent lift lines, and fresh powder for days after a storm. It also notes its two hundred inches of snow annually, its nice mix of intermediate, expert and beginner runs, and its Saturday night torchlight parades and fireworks.
Finishing behind Red River were North Conway, New Hampshire (last year’s winner); Rossland, British Columbia; Stowe, Vermont; Banff, Alberta; Bethel, Maine; Breckenridge, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; Nelson, British Columbia; and Park City, Utah. This is a huge honor for little ol’ Red River! If you haven’t been recently, perhaps it’s time to revisit.
To see the full story, go to https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-ski-town/.
Pajarito Mountain remains closed, needing just one more good storm to begin operations. Longstanding general manager Tom Log reports in a blog dated Jan. 11, “We are working hard over here! From the volunteers to the mountain ops team, we are humming.
“The mountain, despite warmer temps, has been holding up pretty well. I’m not ready to announce an opening day yet, but hopefully soon! If we can get a little more snow….
“The team has been working hard on the slopes with a compacter and doing some grooming, with the beginners area and the bulk of Pussycat groomed. The problem lies across the top of the mountain where the wind has scoured the snow, coupled with intense sunshine. Our terrific volunteer crew has burned many of the tree piles on the main slopes, plus they continue to cut and remove (dead and down) trees. Rim Run and I Don’t Care are clear of trees and have been compacted, as well as Daisy Mae, Lil Abner, Bonanza and the lower traverse.
“We are still experiencing staffing issues and are . . . still looking for a cafe manager and rentals technicians.”
Angel Fire Deal
Winter is in full swing at Angel Fire Resort, and the resort is inviting guests to come and experience great snow, skiing, and family fun in the New Mexico sunshine. Through March 4, when you book two nights at The Lodge at Angel Fire you will receive one night free. There are some blackout periods. For details, call 800-633-7463.
CONDITIONS & EVENTS
Head north for the 2022 Ouray (Colorado) Ice Fest, underway from Jan. 20 – 23, with clinics, vendor exhibitions, climbing competitions, evening social gatherings, and more. The opening party is Jan. 20; other events kickoff on Jan. 21. For details, visit www.ourayicepark.com.
This weekend also marks the return of the Santa Fe Snowshoe Classic. Participants will gather at the Big Tesuque Campground (on NM 518 — the ski basin road), with the race getting underway at 9 a.m. on Jan. 22. All participants will receive a knit scarf. There will also be age group awards and raffle prizes. Participants will cover a 6.5-kilometer course. If you can’t be present, participants can complete their own snowshoe outing, run, or hike anywhere, any time between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31, 2022. The registration fee is $30. All proceeds will go to Santa Fe Search and Rescue, which provides trained teams to look for and rescue people missing, injured, or lost outdoors. For details and to register, visit www.runsignup.com.
Ski Santa Fe sits on a 30-inch base, with 77 of 86 runs open. Skiing there recently, the groomers were in great shape, as were bump runs like Roadrunner and even skier’s right edge of Wizard. Tree runs, however, like Tequila, Black Forest, and Big Rocks, are littered with wind debris and refrozen death cookies. On Saturday, enjoy live music from Freddie Schwartz on the Totemoff deck from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Marble Brewery will do a tap takeover in the Tram Car annex bar. The following Saturday, Jan. 22, will feature the excellent band Lone Piñon and beers from Ex Novo.
Taos Ski Valley has a 50-inch base at the top of Chair 7 and 37 inches at mid-Shalako. The Kachina Peak Chair and Chair 8 are still not turning, but most other runs on the mountain are open, including about half the hike-to terrain.
Wolf Creek has 78 inches at mid-mountain and has received a massive 217 inches so far this season. It is 100 percent open. Lift tickets are available only in-person at the ticket office. Group Lessons are now available for pre-purchase online for the season at www.Shop.WolfCreekSki.com. Lessons must be purchased two or more days in advance. The Raven’s Nest will be closed until further notice, but the restrooms and warming area below will be open. Uphill travel is permitted during operating hours only, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Overnight parking in the Overflow Lot is permitted for ski area guests only, as well as participants at the Pass Creek Yurt.
Angel Fire Resort rests on a 22-inch base, but all lifts are running and 22 of 81 runs are open, including Hell’s Bells and Johnny’s Run.
Red River has a 20- to 24-inch base, having received 35 inches so far in total. Six of seven lifts are turning, and 48 of 64 runs open. On Feb. 4 – 5, the area will host Ski Ranch Rodeo, with team roping, branding, and riding skills tests. Prizes will be awarded. Registration is limited to 40 teams. See events section on their website for details.
Sipapu reports an 18-inch base, with 25 runs a-going.
Pajarito and Sandia Peak need more snow to get going.
Ski Apache has a few beginner slopes open on manmade snow.
Crested Butte has a nice 67-inch base, with 163 inches having dropped so far. It has 12 of 15 lifts spinning, and 77 percent of its terrain open. This includes almost all of its double black runs off the High Lift and North Lift, and the scary stuff off to skier’s left off the Paradise Express.
Monarch Mountain is cruising on a 47-inch base, with all runs open. Monarch also has an ambitious series of special events lined up for the remainder of winter. On Jan. 23 it will host Backcountry Day, on Jan. 30 Park Smart Education, on Feb. 4 Ski With a Naturalist, on Feb. 13 Telefestivus, on Feb. 24-25 an IFSA Big Mountain competition (its first-ever such event), on March 6 a slope style comp, and in April (dates TBD) its annual Kayaks on Snow event and the famous Gunbarrel race.
Telluride rests on a 44-inch base, all lifts in operation and 127 of 148 runs open. Ropes on the hike-to Gold Hill Chutes and upper reaches of Palmyra have yet to drop, but almost all other runs are now being skied.
Purgatory is enjoying a 40-inch base, and all but two runs open. On Feb. 5 it will host a women’s clinic for skiers and snowboarders, as well as Demo Day.
Arizona Snowbowl has a 43-inch base, and all runs are skiable, except its hike-to terrain.
Daniel Gibson is the author of New Mexico’s only comprehensive ski guidebook, Skiing New Mexico: Snow Sports in the Land of Enchantment (UNM Press, 2017). His book Images of America: Skiing in New Mexico was recently released from Arcadia Publishing with 183 historic photos. 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 www.DanielBGibson.com.This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead