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Taos Ski Week, a 6-morning lesson program, 2022-23 notes

marzNC

Angel Diva
Couldn't decide if this topic should be in Skiing Tips or Resorts . . . so General Skiing was simplest.

It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know much about Taos Ski Weeks or Taos Ski Valley terrain. Going to a resort that requires a 2-3 hour drive after flying to NM didn’t seem worth the effort. My attitude changed after 2017 when I and a few friends went to check out Taos after TSV joined the MCP. While I didn’t do a Ski Week, @Olesya Chornoguz and my NM ski buddy, Bill, did. Since then, the three of us done a Ski Week annually and have been joined by a number of Divas and friends/family. We found that Ski Weeks are addictive for people of any age interested in taking their skiing to the next level in assorted terrain and snow conditions, regardless if they are advanced or intermediate skiers.

For skiers interested in gaining confidence and skills for flowing down a bump run, a Taos Ski Week is ideal and a bargain. What's unusual about Taos Ski Valley (TSV) is that there are areas with easy "green" bumps, blue bumps, harder blue bumps, and black or double/black bumps with or without trees.

This season Diva West will be at Taos Ski Valley (TSV). There are also other weeks that there will be Divas doing a Ski Week. Look for Meet On The Hill threads for more info about dates and discussion related to sharing lodging and/or ground transportation. (Requires enough posts to view that Divas Only section.)

If anyone has questions about TSV terrain or Ski Week lessons, feel free to ask.

The trip reports from recent years remain useful for those unfamiliar with how a Ski Week works. However, keep in mind that the info related to travel and lodging may be out of date. Quite a bit has changed at the base village of Taos Ski Valley and for lodging options in general since the ownership change in 2014.


 

marzNC

Angel Diva
For those unfamiliar with a Taos Ski Week, the full program includes 6 consecutive morning lessons with the same instructor, Sunday thru Friday. Ski Week group lessons are run every week of the season from mid-December thru late March. Arriving on Sunday and joining a Ski Week on Monday morning is not uncommon. No reservation is needed for a Ski Week. Can even register the morning of the first lesson, but better to register online beforehand.

Ski Week groups are divided by ability and interest. For the ski-off on Sunday morning (or Monday morning), people are asked what type of terrain they like or are interested in working on (green, blue, blue/black, black, black/double-black). Most people traveling to do a Ski Week are at least skiing easy blues out west, but may not have any bump experience. There are many advanced/experts who have taken more than one Ski Week. It’s straightforward to change groups after the first day either at the suggestion of the student or the instructor. The goal is to form compatible groups not only by ability, but also for group chemistry. The max for a group is usually 7, two quad chairs including the instructor. Often there are groups with 3-5 students.

The interest of a student is more important than their ability. For instance, if an older advanced/expert skier (say over 70) wants to take it easy, then could join an advanced (blue/black) group instead of an expert (black/double-black) group. An advanced skier who wants to work more on fundamentals could choose to be in a lower level where the terrain would be more blue bumps than black bumps. Or a hard charger who wants to ski more, especially hike-to terrain, could choose to be in a higher level group even if their fundamentals could use more work.

Although a Ski Week is 6 mornings, attendance is not mandatory at all lessons. A local may skip a morning or two. With the price under $400 for the entire week, I don't think there is any credit given for missed lessons. Given the high level of experience of the instructors, it's a bargain even for only 3-4 mornings. Many Ski Week instructors are PSIA Level 3, and all have taught 15+ years, if not 20+ years. Often members of a ski club take a rest day midweek to go sightseeing because their package only includes lift tickets for 5 out of 6 days.

Most participants tip instructors. Some groups gather money together as a group tip. For other groups, individuals give the tip to the instructor at end of the week.

Some groups have lunch, après, or an early dinner together on Friday for those who are interested. It’s common for people who aren’t traveling with ski buddies to hook up and ski with someone from their group for an afternoon or two.

There are people who have done an annual Ski Week for 5, 10, or 15 years or more. Often with the same instructor and a friend or two. I’ve done seven Ski Weeks in the last six years. I switched to setting up Private Ski Weeks with friends after a few years since the cost is comparable with four students.
 

Olesya Chornoguz

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Thank you for starting the thread @marzNC ! Ski weeks are great, whether private ski weeks or general ones are fantastic, I highly recommend them. I have been taking Taos ski week every year since 2017. In those years went from a somewhat timid advanced intermediate, starting to ski single blacks to a solid advanced capable of loving the single black terrain there and enjoying some of the Taos double black terrain too.
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
Great memories reading the threads.... I was in Taos Ski Week in 2018, 2020, and 2022. Up next, 2023 ! It's super fun! And I like to travel to a lot of different ski resorts, especially in Europe. But I keep returning to Taos for some reason!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Looking forward to my 4th and 5th ski weeks this year! 2019 was a general ski week with a ski off, 2020 I did the women's week, 2022 I did a private week with some other divas. All were fun and improved my skiing.
I had a very good time giving you a tour at the start of your first trip to Taos in Jan 2019. We had very good weather that weekend for taking in the views. Since we had skied together on blue groomers in New England before that trip, I knew you would have no trouble following me on the Taos blue groomers.

Waiting for Lift 1 to open in five minutes, Jan 2019
Taos 19Jan2019 - 1.jpeg

Trail signs after unloading the old Lift 1 in Jan 2019
Taos 19Jan2019 off Lift 1 - 1.jpeg

I did the tour route that I learned in 2017 when Taos was doing free mountain tours for MCP holders (first season for MCP). We rode every lift except Kachina. Not including the lifts at the base for beginners (Pioneer, Rueggli). That meant starting with Lift 1, Lift 8, and Lift 2 before heading over to the Kachina side. The top of Lift 4 provided a closer view of Kachina. We headed back to the main base via Lift 7 and Lift 7A. Those are the two old, slow lifts without safety bars. The longer trails we skied were White Feather (green, return to main base), Honeysuckle (green to Kachina side), and Bambi (blue from top of Lift 2).

I’m glad that the restrooms on the lower floor of the Phoenix building are open again last season, even though there isn’t a cafeteria in that building any more. The relatively new separate restroom building near the Bavarian is nice but it’s more of a walk from the base of Lift 4.

I've developed the habit of taking White Feather back to the main base in the late afternoon instead of Powderhorn. It's more fun and less crowded. Plus Powderhorn can get a bit skied off.
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
We headed back to the main base via Lift 7 and Lift 7A. Those are the two old, slow lifts without safety bars.
Still hard to believe there aren't safety bars on those lifts......
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Still hard to believe there aren't safety bars on those lifts......
They are from an era when seatbelts weren't required either. That didn't start until the 1970s. By 1989 less than 2/3 of the states had seatbelt laws of any kind.

Lift 7A was originally used on the frontside after being installed in 1961. Ernie Blake and the Mayer brothers were stubborn enough to create a destination resort in the 1950s without the help of having deep pockets for capital projects like chairlifts. The charm and advantages of TSV after the current ownership was able to update lifts and the base area stem from that history, along with the Ski Week program that makes it the best place to improve technique at any level. For people who want to ski bumps and trees, there is really no other resort like it.


 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I've been thinking about what makes Taos unique as a destination resort in the Rockies or Tahoe. Using the term "Rockies" loosely for all the big mountains from New Mexico to Montana and on into the Canadian Rockies.

These are features that come to mind:

1). Ski Week lesson program every week of the season, 6 mornings with the same instructor, usually 7 students max and often 3-5 students, under $500 (including tip)
2). Plenty of bump terrain at all levels
3). More days with sunshine than fog or snow, not frigid that often Jan-Feb
4). A range of tree terrain from intermediate to expert

The fact that Taos doesn't get big snowstorms that often and has people who like to ski bumps of every level is one reason there are many ski days with plenty of bumps. My #1 favorite mountain is Alta. In contrast, Alta gets snow more consistently and therefore huge bumps rarely form. It's pretty hard for Alta instructors to find green/blue bumps for intermediates to learn technique and gain confidence. @snoWYmonkey said the same about Jackson Hole during my first semi-private lesson with her when the goal was to improve bump skiing.

Even someone who doesn't do a Ski Week and only skis 3-4 days at Taos is likely to be able to add something to their bump technique. Or at least their experience dealing with getting down a bump run with no way to bail one way or another if they the adventurous type.
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
I have two ski friends that were somewhat interested in Taos because of the ski week. I think I may have discouraged them because:

Skier friend #1 likes groomers only and no narrow runs - They can be steep but pretty much no bumps and no trees and nothing narrow. She learned to ski when I did - decades ago but not what I would call adventurous at all. Not sure that Taos has steep groomers.

Skier friend #2 likes groomers but doesn't mind narrow runs. She is not interested in bumps or trees and nothing steep. She learned to ski decades ago as well. Not sure that Taos is the place for her.

They both are interested in lessons and love the idea of Taos Ski Week. I would hate to see them spend $$$$ and not have enough terrain to make them happy. They both love Northstar - it's a great mountain for sure - but has NOTHING like Taos on the entire mountain .

What do you think? @marzNC ,@Olesya Chornoguz , @diymom , @mustski ? And others who have skied Taos?
 

nopoleskier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I have two ski friends that were somewhat interested in Taos because of the ski week. I think I may have discouraged them because:

Skier friend #1 likes groomers only and no narrow runs - They can be steep but pretty much no bumps and no trees and nothing narrow. She learned to ski when I did - decades ago but not what I would call adventurous at all. Not sure that Taos has steep groomers.

Skier friend #2 likes groomers but doesn't mind narrow runs. She is not interested in bumps or trees and nothing steep. She learned to ski decades ago as well. Not sure that Taos is the place for her.

They both are interested in lessons and love the idea of Taos Ski Week. I would hate to see them spend $$$$ and not have enough terrain to make them happy. They both love Northstar - it's a great mountain for sure - but has NOTHING like Taos on the entire mountain .

What do you think? @marzNC ,@Olesya Chornoguz , @diymom , @mustski ? And others who have skied Taos?

If they want to take classes to improve their skiing, I think they will, instruction is top notch even for old style skiing they will get a great tune up and skiing tips to make skiing easier. But if they are looking to just go ski groomers, steep or not, wide or narrow they could get bored? Although, I don't get bored skiing just the groomers in the afternoon- one low snow year it was only groomers and a couple bump trails. I love Skiing "around the world" from the top of 2 back to the base or from the top of 2 around the West side back to the base there are plenty of groomer zoomers of varied steepness.. But then I don't care what I ski as long as I'm skiing..
 

mustski

Angel Diva
Hmmm. It depends on how much they like variety. I love groomers, but a whole week at Taos would be boring to me if I were limiting myself to groomers. I can ski the same bump run over and over because it continually presents a challenge for me. I don’t feel the same way about skiing the same groomers over and over.

as for classes… if they are already skillful skiers who just don’t like bumps, that could be a problem. Most people go to Taos to improve in bumps or for the advanced terrain.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I have two ski friends that were somewhat interested in Taos because of the ski week. I think I may have discouraged them because:

Skier friend #1 likes groomers only and no narrow runs - They can be steep but pretty much no bumps and no trees and nothing narrow. She learned to ski when I did - decades ago but not what I would call adventurous at all. Not sure that Taos has steep groomers.

Skier friend #2 likes groomers but doesn't mind narrow runs. She is not interested in bumps or trees and nothing steep. She learned to ski decades ago as well. Not sure that Taos is the place for her.

They both are interested in lessons and love the idea of Taos Ski Week. I would hate to see them spend $$$$ and not have enough terrain to make them happy. They both love Northstar - it's a great mountain for sure - but has NOTHING like Taos on the entire mountain .

What do you think? @marzNC ,@Olesya Chornoguz , @diymom , @mustski ? And others who have skied Taos?
Doesn't sound like a good fit to me. For Friend #1, getting back to the main base via White Feather would not be fun. Nor would taking the long cat track from the base of Lift 4. As for Friend #2, if she wants to work on fundamentals, a Ski Week would work. However, could probably accomplish just as much spending money on a few private or semi-private lessons at Northstar instead of the travel costs for getting to TSV and staying slopeside. Or perhaps at Diamond Peak, Mt. Rose, or Sugar Bowl if the ski school rates are more reasonable. If they request a Level 3 instructor or someone with 20+ years of experience, could work out well to have 3-4 lessons over the course of the season.

We met C-ABQ a few years ago. He's over 70 and only started skiing more regularly after he retired. He's not interested in bumps or trees, just having more fun with less effort on groomers. He had a great time with Stuart (86yo) as his regular Ski Week instructor last season. I think his upcoming Ski Week will be his third. In short, for someone who only skis groomers and likes the ambiance of staying slopeside at Taos and doesn't mind the expense, a Ski Week can be good fun. I skied with C-ABQ on Monday afternoon last time. The difference between his skiing that afternoon and the end of the week was quite noticeable. He was a little rusty having not skied at all during the 2020-21 pandemic season
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
For those folks who haven't been to Taos and/or haven't done the ski-off for a Ski Week, here's what it looks like. The main ski-off is on Sunday morning, starting at 9:30am at the Whistlestop (mid-mountain lodge between Lifts 1 and 2). There is a secondary ski-off on Monday morning for people who want to switch groups or someone who wasn't skiing on Sunday.

Since advanced reservations are not required for Ski Weeks, the number of people doing a ski-off can vary quite a bit. Usually most people on ski club trips take advantage of the discounted rate for a Ski Week, even if they don't plan to ski all six days. I remember being in the ski school office one time when the Director was saying that no more private lessons were to be booked for that day. There were too many ski club folks signing up that morning for a Ski Week.

Midwest ski clubs have been going to Taos since the 1960s. There was a time people could take a train from Chicago that essentially went direct to Taos for a Ski Week at the St. Bernard. Staying at the St. Bernard included three French meals. In the early years, the lifts closed for an hour during lunch time. These days, many ski clubs book rooms at the Snakedance. Ski club trips to Taos typically sell out by early fall. One January I was in a low advanced Ski Week group of 7 that included 4 from a large midwest ski club. Only one of the midwesterners showed up on Wednesday.

Just before the start of the ski-off, instructors in yellow jackets
Taos ski off - 1.jpeg

Looking down the groomer (between Powderhorn Gulley and the Whistlestop), which is blocked off during the ski-off. Instructors ready near the bottom along the right side, with enough distance to spread out the groups as they grow.
Taos ski off - 2.jpeg

A few ski-off turns are enough
Taos ski off - 3.jpeg
 

Olesya Chornoguz

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Hmmm I don't know @santacruz skier - a lot of Taos runs are narrower, even some of the groomers. For groomers only there are less options, but I guess it depends how much they like variety in terrain options? There are plenty of Divas that ski mostly groomers and enjoy Taos and come back for ski week for several years in a row, but I think they don't mind skiing same groomed runs repeatedly.
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
Yeah, I kind of think there isn't enough at Taos for them. Both are fun to ski with but really won't venture off into any off piste territory. They love the idea of a Ski Week but think both might be bored. They're used to Northstar, Heavenly, Kirkwood with lots of variable terrain. They went to Mount Rose for the first time (diva west) and neither liked it that much. That surprised me as I thought they both would really like it. For those who know Northstar, they are both reluctant to ski Lookout Mtn (the steepest section of Northstar but my no means double black).. They're both decent skiers though. They asked me where they should go that has similar ski week as Taos. I said I didn't know of a place. Northstar morning group lessons are about $500. Really.

Thanks for everyone's input.
 

Susan L

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
They should just come and experience it, then decide if it is worth it to return or explore other locations in the future. Hard to make this decision for someone else. If they do ski week, they will still walk away with a great week of lessons.
If they prefer all groomers, they should try race week and learn to carve properly. Most people I have skied with only ski parallel and call that carving, but they have no idea what skills are needed to actually carve and be good at it. They can learn that at Taos.
 
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marzNC

Angel Diva
If they prefer all groomers, they should try race week and learn to carve properly. Most people I have skied with only ski parallel and call that carving, but they have no idea what skills are needed to actually carve and be good at it. They can learn that at Taos.
When is the Race Week usually held? Per usual the Taos website hasn't been updated for the coming season yet. Maybe in a few weeks.
 

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