Looking to get into riding in NM

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Looking to get into riding in NM

Postby DerBergenmann » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:16 pm

Hello all,
So I've been riding for about 12 years now, 7 days a season, 14 at max, and I'm looking to get into riding in NM due to its proximity to where I live, Louisiana.
I'm not a beginner and consider myself somewhat advanced as I would rather be in ungroomed terrain or in the trees than on groomers or in the park. (i hate the park)

Yes I know I'm in the wrong state but I'm now working a job that allows me the money to ride more (school allowing). I've done some reading and NM being around only a half day drive, seems the best place to ride. Plus I've read phenomenal things about it.

I'm looking to get into backcountry as I've fallen in love with off-piste, bowls, and the resort backcountry I've ridden in Colorado. How would one go about getting into BC riding in NM? Is there like a club? :lol:

Also, I discovered tree riding this season in CO and I have never had more fun on the mountain in my entire life. Seriously. Tree riding was the absolute most fun I have ever had.

Regardless, looking to take my first time riding in NM in February sometime and am strongly considering Taos. Any tips or suggestions are greatly welcomed.
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Re: Looking to get into riding in NM

Postby JBella » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:58 am

I'd recommend reading through the Previous Seasons Conditions forums, there's a lot of information and pictures of the terrain here. The Taos and Santa Fe backcountry are saturated with class 2 and 3 avalanche terrain, i.e. this place is the real deal ~ nothing is ever "safe", there are ever-present risks and it's necessary to be comfortable with that. Just driving to the access points you will cross several rock and snowslide paths. It is my opinion that the most important thing is to understand how to recognize and evaluate avalanche terrain. The second most important thing is knowing the importance of assessing the current snowpack/conditions and how to. Third is being able to ride the terrain. Fourth, and I'm sure some would debate that this should be higher in the ranks, is having the proper equipment and knowing how to use it to react to an avalanche or injury situation.

Then comes passion for riding and appreciation for the mountain environment. The mountains are older and greater than any of us, and always will be.

If you've spent some time in Colorado riding the resorts and sidecountry, I'd be willing to bet you've met some really skilled riders. Colorado's vibes are a bit more uptight than New Mexico's ~ there's more ego-driven attitude there, and more desire to promote personal achievements. There is a lot more easily accessible terrain in Colorado and exponentially more people riding it, along with their fast-paced, rushed and competitive nature. Many of the communities I've lived in throughout Colorado have a textbook-granted perspective of the mountain environment, I've met several people throughout that state who use the term "Avalanche Expert" the same as with any profession. The truth is, there is no such thing. A lot of people know a lot about snow physics, however there is so much we don't know and even more unpredictability regarding snowpack physics that no one is an expert in this field. Most avalanche and mountaineering classes don't brush on this because they are running a business to make $ as much as they are providing classes to share information, they have to convey that their instructors are the top of of the line, and best around. No one is the best, and no one ever will be. Participating in a class can be extremely beneficial, and should be considered a compliment to and not a predecessor to genuine experience.

There are no formal clubs in our area, there is a passionate community of backcountry enthusiasts and many of us know eachother. Some of the locals are surly assholes who hate seeing anyone else in the wilderness, and will make that known as they bark arrogant commands like "stay out of the chute!" as we're climbing past them, most of us are pretty cool and down to share information about routes and lines and anything else relevant to recreating on our Public Lands. There are no secrets to the Taos backcountry like some want to believe, everyone has equal rights to use every trail and any skin track they come across but yeah if someone tries to bootpack up and postholes a well-developed skin track they may hear some words from other trail users. As for descents, most everything that doesn't require rappels has been skied or ridden here during the past 30 years, there's still a few first descents waiting to happen but no one knows for sure if something hasn't bee ridden. It's a good idea to not follow tracks here if you don't know where they go, some lines look skiable from the top and lead to 80'+ cliffs and no way around, and there's lines that are rideable but the entrance or exit is not obvious or visible.

As for February, currently we're experiencing the driest Winter since records have been kept and there's literally no rideable natural snow in the Taos area besides a few short sections along the highest ridgelines. The forecast looks promising for a few inches tomorrow but it will take a lot more snow to build a rideable base. And we're already seeing Springlike weather patterns, the past few years we've had 50-65°days during February and if that trend continues this may become the shortest Winter in recorded history. It can snow here, a lot some years, I don't think this is the year to get many powder turns. All we can do is hope the high pressure breaks and temps drop enough for some snow to accumulate before Summer.
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