Taos Ski Valley Region

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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:16 am

Conditions are pretty awesome, yesterday about noon the storm totals were about 17" in the higher elevations, with reports of inch+ per hour during the afternoon and another 5-6 inches overnight. There were some small loose dry sloughs in the Hunziker area, by the time we were descending the storm snow was beginning to show characteristics relative to ongoing slab formation. While yesterday the potential for a dangerous avalanche to occur was unlikely, today will present a different snowpack with various storm layers, each day and night during this storm has had breaks of up to a few hours between shots of snow, with varying temperatures. Yesterday became clear enough during the morning for the sun to shine for a short while and temps warmed a bit. Be wary of cornices and terrain beneath leeward ridges, choose routes wisely and assess your surroundings as you travel. Beneath the fresh storm snow the older snowpack seemed strong and frozen, it is unlikely yet not impossible to release a deep slab, there are still loose and dry pockets by rock outcrops and sheltered treelines.

I toured with a group of 4 to about halfway up Kachina's north slopes, it was crowded on this particular mountain and on our descent we passed about 30 other backcountry travellers travelling up the well-established skin tracks. The snow was great, dense yet dry enough for some face shots.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Fri Apr 29, 2016 9:31 am

Toured the route up Kachina's northerly aspects into the Southeast K9 Couloir yesterday, lots of big R3D3 slides on Kachina's southeast and east sides. I hadn't posted on here but after the last dump, on April 19th Rj and I rode that line and Rj was able to cut the slab and release it R3D2 that day. Snow accumulations were 30-40 inches with that storm. Yesterday, the slide debris we encountered appeared to have come down sometime during the warming period, between the 21st and 27th. Debris deposits were 6-10 feet deep consisting of large vehicle size chunks of slab. I have pics and will post them when I have time to.

Yesterday; 2-6 inches fresh, cold and Wintery above treeline and warmer down low. There was a 6-8" deep windslab at the top of Main Street. Be aware that a slab exists from the April 17-19 storm, then yesterday's thinner and energetic slab, and it snowed several inches last night. Avalanche potential is in the moderate to considerable range above 10k on all aspects that had not slid out during the past week or ten days.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby Bob » Fri Apr 29, 2016 1:31 pm

Suddenly I'm looking forward to spring…at least as far as stability goes.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Fri Apr 29, 2016 11:02 pm

Some of the debris we encountered on Kachina's southeast and east sides yesterday;

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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Fri Apr 29, 2016 11:29 pm

Apologies for the late and out of order post.

These are from April 19th, Kachina Peak's southeast facing K9 Couloir;

My first cut released a small slab;
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Then Rj got the larger pocket to go on a heelside turn as he cut back to the safe side of the chute;
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A few seconds later;

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Debris that deposited on an outcrop about 45 feet below me;
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View down the main run of the chute from the outcrop;
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Flank crown running down the skier's right side;
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Looking back up at the upper crown. Note the step down on the left side of the picture;
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The snow slid on a weak layer between the 16th-17th's accumulation and the slab that built up the following two nights. There were several layers present within the storm snow. Coming out of the chute the slab had broken apart and sloughed itself out as it ran over the cliffs in the middle of the bowl. We continued riding down to the left, regrouped at treeline and cautiously made our way down to the trail and back to the parking lot by the Bavarian
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Last edited by JBella on Sun May 01, 2016 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Sun May 01, 2016 11:19 am

It's snowing pretty hard, 5-6 inches overnight and currently dumping. Medium density, packable consistency. With the recent storm slab development since late March this storm is adding weight to the distinguishable layers atop the older pre-Spring snowpack. Of notable concern is the April 16th-17th storm layer which was reactive during the recent natural wet cycle. Many slopes have not released naturally and will be precariously stressed for the near future. Because of this, all slopes steeper than 33 degrees which did not slide and runouts below these slopes should be approached with extreme caution and only if necessary. Windloaded ridges and crossloaded slopes as well as areas beneath cornices should be avoided until this storm clears and proper assessment techniques can be followed and routes are clearly visible from afar, in my opinion. I would recommend carefully selecting uphill routes which remain in the forest and look for signs of old avalanche paths; flagging on trees, young stands surrounded by older trees, micro-deposit zones. Now is a good time to enjoy lower elevation tree riding while the snowpack is still deep enough to ride in these areas, the higher alpine terrain will be safer when the storm clears and visibility improves. While long-running human-triggered slab avalanches are possible on all aspects above treeline, overall the snowpack depth is slightly below average for May 1 and exposed rocks are also a hazard especially on southerly aspects which did slide during the warming period last week. This storm is covering areas which were stripped to the ground, creating a deceptive appearance that a slope is covered enough to ride safely when it isn't.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby Brown_Trout » Tue May 10, 2016 11:14 am

Has anyone been out in this area recently? I'd like to check out some new spots, not really sure where to go but I'd be interested to see how the snowpack is currently holding up now that the snow seems to have stopped.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Thu May 12, 2016 6:19 pm

Wednesday May 11;

We rode one of the Pup Chutes dropping into Wildy Bowl, one area of Kachina Peak's southerly aspects.

Descent from ridge at 11:40, good corn snow, deeper in the bowl snowpack hadn't frozen solid for a while. We triggered 3 areas, one an R1.5D2 wet slab in a narrow, steep couloir ran about 300', 8-12" crown; another large collapse in the middle of the bowl by the waterfall which moved about 2 inches after collapsing but did not run, and another small loose board-width wet slab near the bottom in the trees by El Funko pulled one of our group over a small cliff. Also lots of collapses on flatter pockets while traversing along treeline on Kachina's east side. Reactive layer was the interface of the old snow from the March dry spell and the snow which had accumulated during April.

Rj dropping into the Pup Chutes from the ridge
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Below the first pitch where the slope steepens and drops into the narrower chutes
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Wet slab released on a heelside cut
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Wet slab flank crown
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Wet slide run
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The narrow section
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Rj riding the middle section of Wildy Bowl
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The Waterfall slope, the upper section collapsed when I cut it before the skier pictured skied it
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A view up at the wet slide crown
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Last edited by JBella on Sun May 22, 2016 2:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby Brown_Trout » Thu May 19, 2016 3:23 pm

Anyone planning on going out to TSV on Saturday? Really looking for a partner for some Kachina laps. Shoot me a PM if interested.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby lobojasper » Mon May 30, 2016 12:18 pm

Skied Sin Nombre on sat 5/28. 1-2 inches of fresh snow from the night before. twas gnar.

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Snow was great all the way back down to Williams Lake, but after that the trail was horribly postholed. Thank you to the multiple tourists from texas with picnic baskets and dress shoes postholing through 4 feet of snow. Hope the hike was enjoyable! :roll: Bent a new ski pole in a posthole.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby JBella » Sun Jun 19, 2016 12:37 pm

Thursday Rj and I climbed Lake Fork. Riding was fun, climbing was easy. Snowpack is more like what we'd expect to see during early July, the effects of the warm and dry February and March are apparent. We rode the summit couloir which required a hike down steep, loose and slidy rocks to access the snowfield about 250 feet beneath the summit ridge.

When we were on the summit we were preparing for our descent and heard a cornice fall and break apart on the rocks, then debris moving. Sounded like lightning, I had my camera in hand and began recording and was able to catch the end of the slide, some rocks and snow cascading down rapidly. Not the best quality yet it shows we're not out of the water yet regarding avalanches;


The top of the snowfield was about 20-30 inches deep and unfrozen, kicked down some small R.5D.5 wet sloughs;


Below the larger rock in the middle of the chute the snow was denser and more like glacier snow. Full on Summer conditions, continuous onto the flatter terrain in the middle of the basin, then rideable sections of snow leading to where the primitive Lake Fork trail heads east-southeast towards the waterfall. Above the waterfall there was one shaded area in the forest holding 3-4 feet of dense snow on a southerly aspect. Most of the William's Lake trail was melted out with a few patches remaining.

Taken during our ascent, this was the lowest rideable snow, some good snow climbing along the Lake Fork trail
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Peering down from the summit into the northeast facing couloir
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The ridge continuing southwards to Sin Nombre
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Southwest towards Vallecito and the Rio Grande valley beyond
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Simpson and Old Mike peaks
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Rj riding the line
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Further down the northeast slope
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The section of cornice that broke apart was only a small part of the entire thing
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Last edited by JBella on Mon Jun 20, 2016 12:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby Kerry » Sun Jun 19, 2016 6:30 pm

Nice job squeezing the last drop out of the Taos season. Referencing your comment, "...like July'", between Aspen-Leadville the coverage was what I'd expect for end of June. The hot temps forecast this week will make it too look like July snowpack.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby lobojasper » Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:08 pm

Anybody got some old or new trip reports of epic calender summer time ski descents in NM to share? Jbella, your most recent LFP descent was epic but 2 days before official summer ahah.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Postby lobojasper » Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:05 pm

Haha getting me excited!!
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