Kachina Peak Backcountry Access in the Future...Yay or Nay?

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Kachina Peak Backcountry Access in the Future...Yay or Nay?

Postby JBella » Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:11 pm

I'm interested in knowing what peoples' thoughts are about a backcountry access gate at the top of Kachina Peak. This is something that locals have been discussing for years, and it may become a possibility in the near future. Would you support it, or not, and what are your reasons? Would you want an open gate, or should access require avalanche rescue gear and/or be opened depending on current conditions? I'm not sure if this is something that the Ski Valley is actively considering but perhaps discussion may help indicate whether or not this is something the NM backcountry skiing community is interested in pursuing and promoting.
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Re: Kachina Peak Backcountry Access in the Future...Yay or N

Postby Bob » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:39 pm

Personally, I'd be against a gate because it'd be extra duty for the patrol to check people and then deal with them, and the (legal) hike/skin in from the Williams Lake trail helps keep traffic down.

I know that a lot of locals wouldn't be any trouble at all, but with the lift to Kachina there are going to be a lot of gapers looking at that gate and wanting to go get the goods. But I'm an old cranky guy.

According to the New Mexico Skier Safety Act (law), ski areas have to mark the boundaries. It's up to the ski area whether the boundaries are closed or not. A gate is one thing, open boundaries are another. Food for thought.

Question, is there a SAR group in Taos?
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Re: Kachina Peak Backcountry Access in the Future...Yay or N

Postby JBella » Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:55 am

There is an organized SAR group in Taos, tho they are mostly trained to respond to lower altitude calls, like in the gorge and lower mountains. When someone is lost in the high terrain up here it is usually a team of TSV patrollers and local EMS folks who assemble to help. I think if we were to have open access from the ski area that the patrol would have to be on board for rescues and have a pre-determined strategy to use as a guideline. It would likely take too long for the Taos SAR to effectively respond, turning a rescue into a recovery situation.
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Re: Kachina Peak Backcountry Access in the Future...Yay or N

Postby look » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:38 pm

I think boundaries should be open. It is a big part of what makes some ski areas so much fun, like those in Europe and the Northern U.S.A. However their is a safety factor to worry about, which should be the responsibility of the skiers. Unfortunately we have a small amount of experienced backcountry skiers in NM compared to the ski area recreationalists. Consequently if boundaries were open we might have more less experienced skiers out there then those with training or know how. If you look at ski areas like Jackson Hole, Big Sky, or Bridger Bowl they all had closed boundaries until fairly recently. When the boundaries were closed a culture of poachers emerged who were somewhat experienced and willing to take risks. In many regards these guys learned the ropes of the backcountry in proximity to ski areas. When it came time to consider opening the boundaries, the population (skiers, patrollers, forecasters) already had a sense of the backcountry terrain and character due to the poachers experiences. I think in order for the boundaries to be open we need to get more skiers out their to test the outcome of high traffic avalanche terrain in Northern New Mexico. Granted poaching is not the reasonable way to do this but instead ambitious exploration, we should get more skinners out there, get together and practice our rescue techniques, and most importantly share our experiences. Small steps should be made by us skiers in a movement to open the ski area access to the mountains. After all we go to the ski area to feel free, yet rules don't help.
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