I recently ran across a bit of writing by my son when he was 6 and in the first grade. He reported “the moon has craters 60 miles wide,” that he was a Quaker and “Quakers do not like violence,” and “I went skiing on Saturday. I like it. It was fun. I went skiing in Taos.”
On Wednesday, I had the first opportunity to ski with him again this season, despite the fact he lives here again and we both love the sport. Busy lives are hard to align. With 8 inches reported the previous day at Ski Santa Fe, we expected lots of untracked lines, but there must have been a lot of folks out during Tuesday’s storm, as every square foot seemed cut up. Once on the snow, however, we found it still soft and easily carved. Off in the secret woods and stashes discovered during decades of skiing on this mountain, we found some untracked lines.
With the sun playing peek-a-boo, we had dense fog ghosting through snow-draped spruce, then hundred-mile views, then sun halos of wispy snow crystals floating above. We played in the dipsy-do’s of the trees of Big Rocks Glade and dove into Chute 8 where the snow lay in soft pillows. We glided through the woods of the Black Forest, probed the boundary line of Cornice, and danced with the boulders of Camp Robber.
We had a beer and green chile stew at Totemoff’s, and a few friends were introduced. These are my people, I thought, and this is my son, now a young man. I introduced him to skiing — as my father and mother did for me at 6 — on these very slopes. This is a place I love, and it still excites me as much as it did when I first skied here 59 years ago. Some things turned out right.
Taos Air flies
In January, Taos Ski Valley began airline service between Austin, Texas, and Dallas, Los Angeles and San Diego to Taos. Taos Air is flying a 30-seat Dornier 328 jet operated by contractor Advanced Air.
A booking includes free high-end rental gear, ground transportation, two free bags and other perks. David Norden, TSV’s CEO, explained in a recent presentation to ski media that guests can board an 8:20 a.m. flight in Austin, arrive in Taos at 9:26 a.m. and be on the slopes by 11 a.m. He also noted the air service’s carbon “footprint” is being offset 100 percent by TSV investment in carbon-sequestering projects.
The flights run $220 one-way from Dallas and Austin, Texas, and $150 from Southern California. For details, call 833-359-8267 or visit www.taosair.com.
Telluride, home to a bar Butch Cassidy once shot up after a successful robbery and a few celebratory drinks, hosts slopestyle ski and snowboard competitions Feb. 22 on Lower Hoot Brown. On March 7-8, the Alpine U10 Junior Championships drop in on Comp Hill for an exciting look at young local and visiting rippers.
March 13 ushers in the first annual Skidola, an open registration uphill on-snow race from the town of Telluride to the ridge that parallels the gondola. Telluride Foundation is the host and organizer and all proceeds will be donated to the Peter Inglis Avy Fund to further their mission in avalanche education and backcountry user awareness in the San Juan Mountains. Details and registration ($15) online.
CONDITIONS AND EVENTS
Ski Santa Fe has an 84-inch base, with almost very run open. Still roped, as of last Wednesday, were Big Rock Chutes 5, 6, 7 and Sunset Bowl. There are even tracks on Ravens Ridge’s south face. It hosts the Burton Women’s Snowboard course Saturday, and rocking Toady’s deck from 11 a.m.-3p.m. will be JJ and the Hooligans, with a Marble tap takeover.
Sandia Peak benefited nicely in the recent storm, picking up a foot and taking its base to a remarkable 51 inches. Open Fridays-Sundays and holidays, a visit here should include lunch at the new 10300 restaurant and bar atop the Crest. It is open Fridays-Sundays and on holidays (including Presidents Day) through mid-March.
Taos Ski Valley says 21 inches of snow fell in the recent cycle, taking its base to 79 inches. Almost every run should be open this weekend.
Pajarito Mountain has a nice 37-inch base. It will be open Wednesdays to Sundays and holidays (including President’s Day), then daily March 4-22, and finally on weekends March 27-April 5. It is offering limited lift tickets with savings of up to 50 percent if bought online by midnight the night before your outing. Tickets can be scored as low as $25. It also teamed up with Holiday Inn and Express in Los Alamos, in which guests stay for free by purchasing a minimum of two adult lift tickets ($59 each) directly from the hotel.
Angel Fire has a 45-inch base with all runs open, including their steeps and hike-to terrain. Sipapu has a 38-inch base, with all runs skiable. Red River has a 46-inch base.
Ski Apache has a 38-inch base with 37 of 55 runs open.
Wolf Creek has 74 inches with all runs open. Crested Butte picked up 20 inches and has a 54-inch base. All but The Peak and Teo 2 are now open. Purgatory sits on 54 inches; Telluride reports 54 inches; and Monarch Mountain 60 inches, with everything open.
Arizona Snowbowl checks in with a 54-inch base.