Ski Santa Fe - Ski Mag

Ski Santa Fe

The Stash: Take Sunset, skier’s right of the Tesuque Peak chair. Wiggle through the fir, and tuck onto slender Luge, before dropping into boulder-strewn Avalanche Basin.
Ski New Mexico

Ride the Tesuque Peak triple chair to the summit of Ski Santa Fe, and you embark on an adventure in ski-resort deception. You’ll spy runs crammed with hollering Texans, and a backcountry that looks more molehill than mountain, despite acres of fall-away terrain. So why do Santa Fe and Albuquerque skiers worship their snow shamans here instead of trekking north to the vaunted steeps of Taos? For Santa Fe’s true essence: tree skiing Nirvana just yards from the triple chair, where the runs between the runs are as clandestine and wild as a local Wicca convention.

Powder Day: Head skier’s left from the summit toward the bald steeps of North Burn, South Burn, and Cornice, where wind-loaded runs pour off the ridgeline before funneling into a conifer forest that thickens with every turn. Exit to troughed-out Fall Line, bumpy Parachute, or
cruisable Gay Way.

Three Days Later: The powder you loved on “The Burns” now chokes the opposite side of the triple. Harvest Roadrunner, then bear right and
follow the wind to First Traks. Continue to steeper, deeper Avalanche Bowl, Desperado,
or Double Eagle V.

Must Hit: Ride the ridge to Tequila Sunrise for worry-free surfing amid trees spaced two skiers-wide, then drop the narrow rollover and veer into dense pines. Bottom out on Lower Burro.

The Stash: Take Sunset, skier’s right of the Tesuque Peak chair. Wiggle through the fir, and tuck onto slender Luge, before dropping into boulder-strewn Avalanche Basin.

Backcountry Access: From the top, head southwest past several radio towers toward the warning signs for Tesuque Basin. Track the left-side fall line through crowded conifers and aspen. Follow the Aspen Vista doubletrack out, and hitch two miles back to the base.

Weather: If it looks like an El Nin~o year, log on to Orbitz and book your trip early. Otherwise, save your edges for fatter days in March.

Après: Back in town, stoke your fire at the Dragon Room Bar with green-chile stew. Or migrate three doors down to Rio Chama, a good-old-boy steakhouse near the capitol where legislators and judges commingle.

Fuel: Try a Christmas-style breakfast burrito (red and green chile) at Harry’s Roadhouse south of town, then torture yourself with a green chile cheeseburger for lunch at Totemoff’s Grill near Chair 3. For dinner, try Maria’s, downtown, where tequilas line the bar—and carne adovada
warms your belly.

Up all night: Kick up dust at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, a derelict- and family-friendly tavern where swaggering waitresses intimidate male customers and a pony-tailed guy with an eye patch plays guitar.

Digs: Winter is off-season in tourist-driven Santa Fe. Check out Inn at the Paseo ($79; 800-457-9045) or fine-art-friendly Hotel Santa Fe ($99–$119; 800-825-9876).


27.  Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Taos Ski Valley

1,294 acres of fall-away chutes, spacious glades, and pillowy moguls, with extra rewards if you’re willing to hike Kachina Peak

"That's the cliff Benny skied off of when he first started running the place 25 years ago," says Bill Gould (shown here), Ski Santa Fe ski school director, as he points to the nose of a 60-foot cliff. It's a big cliff. And it has a small landing. As Benny, now 51, tells the story, “Yeah, growing up my philosophy was that speed is your friend. If you thought you needed to go 30 miles an hour to huck a cliff, you should go 40. So I jumped off the top of that thing and 30 feet past the landing knew I was in trouble." He landed in a flat, rocky patch of snow and managed to only break a rib, puncture a lung and fracture his scapula. He was skiing two days later. That's whose been developing the resort. Cliffs, steeps, and trees manage to blend with comfortable groomers, a solid ski school, and a youth race program.

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Taos Ski Valley | Photo: Ryan Heffernan

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