Taos Ski Valley Region

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Brown_Trout
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by Brown_Trout »

Last weekend while in the resort I saw several new lines throughout the day in the south facing chutes on Wheeler side. Specifically above the Bavarian and most of the chutes to the West and East.

I rode the chute above the Bavarian in mid January and the snowpack was very stable. How would you describe these lines now? Sorry I don't know the specific names of each of them...

Thanks
Tight lines and deep pow
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JBella
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by JBella »

Brown_Trout wrote:Last weekend while in the resort I saw several new lines throughout the day in the south facing chutes on Wheeler side. Specifically above the Bavarian and most of the chutes to the West and East.

I rode the chute above the Bavarian in mid January and the snowpack was very stable. How would you describe these lines now? Sorry I don't know the specific names of each of them...

Thanks
I think you mean the west facing lines on Wheeler's north ridge? If you're referring to these chutes, they are from north to south; Bavarian, Phoenix, Bong, Peace Sign, then the fingers are like a right hand palm down, then there's the Hidden Chute (the long, deep and not as steep gully below Point 13,045'), then there's the rock garden below Walter and the Avalanche Gully below Wheeler's northwest slopes. They're holding plenty of snow even with the solar gain and high temps this week, lots of tracks. We went up to William's Lake a couple nights last week and the trail was like a highway, there are skin tracks ascending all over the place and moguls at the bottom of the fingers. I haven't dug around in that zone since January but it seems like stability is about the same as it has been for a few weeks, possibly isolated pockets where deep slabs could release, since the bottom half of the chutes are basically skied out I'd look for unstable layers in the starting zones before dropping into any lines on that side, with a reasonable expectation that anything could slide but probably won't.
Last edited by JBella on Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
sody
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by sody »

On Sunday, we skied a SSE facing steep chute on Lake Fork peak. We started early and where back at the car around 12pm. I would not have skied this much later in the day since it is not a spring snow pack yet. We hit it just right with the surface being soft spring snow but not breaking through the crust. Boot packing was either hip deep post holing or not penetrating the crust much at all. All depended on aspect and even small changes in aspect made a huge difference. Down lower close to Williams Lake on NE aspect we found some consolidated powder, possibly from all the wind. Choose terrain wisely and watch the time of the day.
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JBella
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by JBella »

North aspect, 10,840' on Bull of the Woods Mountain. 56-59" deep, found 2 weak layers with a basic shear test, the first a clean and easily sheared layer about 2 feet down on surface hoar from early/mid January, second failure was within the basal faceted snow consisting of 2-3mm crystals, the entire 3-4 inch layer collapsed. Within these two slab-like layers the snow consisted of varying size small faceted grains, creating styrofoam-like slabs. In the mid to upper elevations Buried Persistent Slabs and Deep instabilities are becoming more widespread during this dry spell despite the recent warm daytime temps, and could be triggered if a certain spot is hit, near trees and rock outcrops, rollovers and convex slope features, windloaded slopes... Extreme north facing shady slopes below treeline and above 9k are drying up significantly during the nights and faceting is reaching the advanced stages. Lower down at about 10k the snow was looser, more faceted and less cohesive, and about 20-30% shallower overall. Sunny south and open westerly aspects are more Springlike, with thicker suncrusts having developed in some areas and bare ground around trees and rocks is becoming more noticeable daily.

I wasn't able to perform strength tests yet isolating these weak layers with clean shears shows how uncohesive some of the bonds are, and how deep the slabs are;
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Lower layers are comprised of advanced stage facets
Lower layers are comprised of advanced stage facets
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At this sunny site the surface layer, up to an inch was wet grains of melted light crust 2-4mm in diameter, water was percolating a couple inches down.  It didn't take much to get this slab to pop
At this sunny site the surface layer, up to an inch was wet grains of melted light crust 2-4mm in diameter, water was percolating a couple inches down. It didn't take much to get this slab to pop
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Crystals from the basal depth hoar layer
Crystals from the basal depth hoar layer
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Lake Fork
Lake Fork
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JBella
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by JBella »

Today was windy. What loose snow was still lingering was blown around and spindrifts had formed below snow banks in the village by about 2pm.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by JBella »

6-8 inches so far since it began accumulating about 7:30pm last night, moderate winds with directions varying depending on topography. By 6:30am on Frazer Mountain winds were blowing about 20-25mph from the ENE, creating drifts on open ridges and lee aspects up to 3 feet deep. As the storm is moving east this morning it is spinning near the NM/TX/OK borders creating a northeast flow above the Sangres.

Northerly and easterly aspects below about 10,300' are dry and loose and the inner layers continue to facet, above there deep buried persistent slabs are the main concern, where well developed semi-hard slabs are stacked between old surface hoar layers and thin solar crusts. Beyond storm sloughs avalanche potential is getting into the considerable range in these areas with pockets of high danger where drifts have formed and in the lower elevations where highly evolved depth hoar comprises a significant part of the snowpack's depth. Lee aspects on high ridges and cornices are likely to slide and should be approached cautiously if necessary.

Southeast through southwest slopes are holding variable depths of suncrust near the surface and looser, wet and dense faceted snow below. Many areas have not froze beneath a couple inches that solidified yesterday evening, the fresh snow is helping contain heat in these warmer pockets. It is probably not likely to trigger a large slab on these slopes but if one does go it may be deep and heavy and travel a long distance. Expect storm snow sloughing on steep southerly aspects approached from above.

The "safest" slopes are southwest through west aspects above treeline where most of the snow had melted and winds the past few days stripped any loose snow to mostly bare ground and rocks before this storm, between isolated crossloaded wind slabs. Below treeline westerly slopes are a mix of suncrusts, hard slabs, soft slabs, and faceted layers creating variable conditions across a broader range. It is possible to trigger something on these aspects and the same as on more southerly slopes is probably not likely (beyond storm snow sloughing) but is possible if a weak pocket is hit the right way.
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JBella
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by JBella »

Two of us climbed and descended the north trib of the Peace Chute two days ago, it was frozen and Springlike, a cool breezy day. Everything was pretty locked up, there was still some soft snow in the lower trees between the Peace Chute and the Fingers.

An interesting fact, I checked everyone we passed up to the wilderness sign and of 22 people, including a baby in a backpack, not a single person had a beacon and at least 18 did not appear to have a shovel, many did not even have a pack. We were "warned" by two woman that their friends were coming down the trail with gear sleds in tow and "may be out of control". A moment ago this morning a friend pointed out the fact that certain local municipalities and businesses often promote the William's Lake hike as an easy, 2 mile hike without acknowledging the dozens of named and unnamed avalanche paths that the trail traverses, and a majority of people who use this trail do so without understanding the terrain, and even though the Forest Service has placed warning signs along the lower reaches of the trail they are oblivious to the avalanche potential.
Last edited by JBella on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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JBella
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by JBella »

Yesterday touring the east side of Kachina we found a mix of hard slabs, sun affected snow, softer wind blown pockets, and old debris that has frozen solid. Conditions in the Eastern Philosophy Couloir were good for riding in the bottom and firmer, crispier snow up high. Down by the Tucker Ponds and in the trees leading to El Funko the snow was softer and dryer, with isolated pockets of waist deep facets on some of the steeper rollovers.

Overall avalanche conditions are in the low to moderate range with isolated pockets of considerable where the snow is shaded and doesn't receive direct sunlight. This means the potential to trigger a smaller slab exists yet is not likely, but if something does rip it will likely be large and destructive, stepping down to deeper buried layers. There are known weak layers which are becoming very hard to trigger on compression tests, the past 10 days I've been getting failures in the 22-28 range at the same layers I posted about a week and a half ago, yet with clean shears, indicating there is relative strength within the snowpack but well-developed layers do exist.

Keep thinking about and seeking out Buried Persistent Slabs and Deep Slab Instabilities, with our current snowpack.
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JBella
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by JBella »

2-3 inches yesterday afternoon and evening, everything seems pretty well frozen this morning.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by Kerry »

Hidden Chute
Hidden Chute
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Sin Nombre
Sin Nombre
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On 3/12, climbed LFP's NE face in the afternoon, skied LFP's SE face, just about 45-min too late to enjoy corn. Clouds moved in, temps dropped, snow began falling as we climbed LFP's final pitch, refreezing the corn surface on the SE side. Saw a couple D1 wet loose from E and SE rock bands. Found isothermic snow on E aspects near rocks and bushes >TL, with about 40-cm ski penetration in isolated pockets.
On 3/13, skied Sin Nombre's N open face on about 6" of fresh pow, some of which had been transported by wind. Climbed it a second time to repeat the wonderful conditions. A weak wind crust was just beginning to form on the surface as we skied the second run all the way to Williams Lake. Climbed toward Walter >TL and skied Hidden Chute--great shape with dense pow >TL and fast mashed potatoes down low. Sunny, near freezing for high temp, but no glop :D . Continued to observe fresh D1 wet loose slides originating near E and SE cliff faces. All ran shallow. Also saw more areas of weak isothermic snow on E aspects near bushes and rocks >TL and at TL.
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by JBella »

Yesterday was kinda wintery for a few minutes. Snowed 1-4 inches after a half inch the previous night. This was up by Bull of the Woods Pasture about noon; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrsBjMSNarQ
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by JBella »

This morning there was 9 inches at the bottom of the Peace Chute, 4-5 in the trees, 7-8 in the Pinky trib and 8-10+ on the higher southern side of the apron. 7-8 inches below the lake on Kachina. Mostly frozen and smooth underneath the fresh, there were isolated but respectably sized areas on nw-e slopes where the snowpack is loose and unconsolidated, faceted to the ground 3-5 feet below the surface. Clear-partly cloudy skies early transitioned to light snow about 11 then moderate snow by 1. Temps warmed after noon, the snow was dry early and by 1 southerly aspects were affected by solar radiation as the clouds thickened. About an inch accumulated during the day.

There were lots of R1 storm sloughs below Kachina's northeast ridge, debris from fresher slides atop older ones;
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From the trail we spotted a couple slides that appeared to have run during the night as it snowed;
Ring
Ring
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Index
Index
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Descents were worthwhile, lots of face shots and a few turns without bottoming out on the old snow. The runout below the Pinky was great. Maybe a foot in the deepest pockets and a bit denser snow than higher up;
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Bob
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by Bob »

^Nice action pics.
Kerry
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by Kerry »

Skied both east bowls of LFP on Saturday, never warmed enough to soften the surface; no more than a trace of fresh snow.
Skied Wildy Bowl on Sun, under partly cloudy skies. Nice corn on the south-easterlies by 1000. Dug on a 36 deg north aspect just >TL and found a winter snow pack, 180 cm HS, 2 MF crusts in top 10 cm, then finger resistence of 1mm facets down to 25 cm, where DH about 5mm to the ground. Temp gradient indicates trend toward rounding, but no sign of that yet below the MF crusts.
2 x CTN tests. Both columns pulled out on top of the DH at 25 cm. Columns are stout; picked up 1.5 mtr column without breaking.
I think the chances of a slab avalanche are low on the northlerlies >TL, but not non-existent. If triggered, it will likely be very destructive.
We skied a north facing coulior at the south end of the bowl, Looking Glass, aka Wolfs Den, where there was breakable wind crust high, breakable MF crust lower, finally corn as the pitch became more easterly.
Jake19
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Re: Taos Ski Valley Region

Post by Jake19 »

Hey guys, finally got a weekend off and was considering heading up to ski taos. Just saw the snow report from 4/12 on this thread but was wondering in general what the skinning situation is. I'd be coming up with my dog and have a split board with some not so adhesive skins, so wouldn't mind boot packing some stuff if the snow was "spring-like". Last year we came up early june and skied wheeler and kachina, but I imagine the snowpack isn't near that kind've consistency yet. Any more general info on the snow and whats skiing good and/or safe (considering I'll likely be solo) in the basin would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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