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Taos Ski Week in 2020, what week fits in your schedule better?


Angel Diva
Although it may seem early to some people, I’ve been thinking about which week to head back to Taos Ski Valley (TSV) in NM for another Ski Week. Anyone else interested in a Ski Week during Jan-Mar 2020? The idea behind this thread is simply to help narrow down which weeks might work for two or more Divas. For my trip to TSV, I have a week in mind but will share the dates later. When pre-season approaches (Aug-Oct 2019) each potential week can have it’s own Meet On The Hill (MOTH) thread for discussing details about sharing lodging and/or rental cars.

I’m going to provide general travel tips for getting to TSV, especially for those who fly. Having gone to TSV four times in the last three seasons, I’ve learned pros and cons from the different approaches I've done.

Note that Diva West at Jackson Hole will be in late January and Diva East at Sunday River will probably be in early March.

Continue to the next post for the basics about a Taos Ski Week, which is a multi-day group lesson program that is unique for a big mountain ski resort.

Here are trip reports from 2019:
TR Taos Ski Week Jan. 20-25, 2019 with intermediate Divas
TR Taos Ski Valley, Feb. 2-9, 2019, including advanced Ski Week

Any questions?


Angel Diva
For those unfamiliar with a Taos Ski Week, the full program includes 6 consecutive morning lessons, 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 wait to register the morning of the first lesson.

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 doing a Ski Week are at least skiing blues out west, but may not have any bump experience. There are many advanced/experts in the top group 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 $300 for the entire week, I don't think there is any credit given for missed lessons. Given the 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 is a “tech talk” at the St. Bernard on Tuesday afternoons open to all Ski Week participants.

There are people who do an annual Ski Week for 5, 10, 15, or 20 years or more. Often with the same instructor and a friend or two. For @Olesya Chornoguz and my ski buddy, Bill, 2020 will be their fourth Ski Week in as many years. It will be my third season doing a Ski Week, after the initial trip to TSV in 2017 when my schedule didn’t match up with a Ski Week but I had a chance to get to know the terrain with exceptionally good snow coverage.


Angel Diva
The second week of February is typically when there is a special Women's Ski Week. Same price, but there are perks such as free demo skis or a free boot alignment check. All the instructors are women. Note that quite a few of the most experienced instructors at TSV are women who teach Ski Weeks on a regular basis. Quite a few locals do the Women’s Ski Week.



Angel Diva
From a travel standpoint, those who fly for a ski trip to Taos usually go to Albuquerque. The ABQ airport is pretty easy to manage. Also possible to fly into Santa Fe. The Santa Fe airport is tiny, so it takes very little time to get baggage and get out the terminal door. There are motels with free airport shuttles for both airports. It’s pretty common to stay in an airport motel the night before flying home.

It’s an easy 3-hour drive from Albuquerque to Taos on major highway with little concern about snowy roads. About an hour less from Santa Fe, which is on the way from ABQ to Taos. There is shuttle service from the airports to/from TSV, but it only runs a couple times per day. Better to have 4WD/AWD for a rental car for the last 20 miles of mountain road between the town of Taos and TSV, but usually the drive is not a big deal. It’s the parking lot that can be difficult with 2WD.

Rental car rates are pretty reasonable in Albuquerque. There is a separate rental center that requires a 5-min free shuttle bus ride from the main terminal. When I rent a car, I usually return the car the evening I check into the airport motel. Then it’s an easy free motel shuttle ride directly to the terminal in the morning.

The town of Taos is about a 30 minute drive from the base village of Taos Ski Valley. What’s of more importance for me as a flat-lander is that Taos and Santa Fe are at about 7000 ft, while TSV is around 9000 ft. I usually don’t move to lodging at TSV until after a night of two elsewhere. There are plenty of lodging options in Taos at all price points. There is also a public bus that runs between Taos and TSV that works well for a full ski day.

My friends and I have been happy at the Columbine Inn for Taos Ski Weeks. It’s about a mile from the TSV base, is family-owned, includes a hot breakfast, and has the option of a free van ride for a full ski day. There is a lower nightly rate for staying 4+ nights.

Looking around VRBO, AirBnB, and even Hotels.com is a good approach if interested in a condo/house in TSV, Arroyo Seco, Arroyo Hondo, or Taos.


Angel Diva
As for lift tickets, TSV is on Ikon and MCP for 2019-20. Ikon Base covers 5 days with a few holiday black out dates, Full Ikon covers 7 days with no blackout dates. MCP at $449 only makes sense if you plan to also ski at one other MCP location at least. The last couple seasons, getskitickets had discounted tickets for TSV. So did Costco early in the season.

If you’ve never skied at TSV before, it’s nice to warm up by arriving in time to ski TSV on Saturday and get a feel for the layout. Also good for altitude adjustment if you are from the flatlands. There aren’t that many lifts so learning how to get around doesn’t take that long. Half a day is enough to ride all of them while skiing blue groomers, assuming all the lifts are running. TSV started doing free tours in 2018-19 but not every day.

For those people with limited vacation time, it’s quite possible to fly in on Saturday, go to TSV that afternoon/evening, and fly out the next Saturday, usually by leaving TSV on Friday afternoon. My friend from DC has done that two years in a row. I expect he’ll do it again next season. Taos Ski Weeks are addictive for people interested in improving their technique, regardless of their current ability level.

Any questions?
@Olesya Chornoguz , @nopoleskier , @alison wong , @santacruz skier , @Susan L , @Gidget415 , and @BlizzardBabe are some of the Divas who have found a Taos Ski Week worth repeating in recent years.


Angel Diva
Thank you, @marzNC . I am interested in doing a Taos ski week but I will wait to hear which week my ski club is going to Vail before I pick dates.
Thanks for putting all the great info in one place!

My current preferred dates are Jan 12 - Jan 17. I have IKON base so am blacked out on MLK weekend and only have 5 days. I plan to take a mid-week day off because I am wimp enough to not be able to ski a whole week w/o break. I figure I’ll be in a low intermediate group so not too concerned about lack of terrain mid-Jan. These dates also give me flexibility to go to Jackson Hole for Diva West.

I might be able to go in Feb, but my boss will likely kill me because it’s first peak in tax season.
Thanks for putting all the great info in one place!

My current preferred dates are Jan 12 - Jan 17. I have IKON base so am blacked out on MLK weekend and only have 5 days. I plan to take a mid-week day off because I am wimp enough to not be able to ski a whole week w/o break. I figure I’ll be in a low intermediate group so not too concerned about lack of terrain mid-Jan. These dates also give me flexibility to go to Jackson Hole for Diva West.

I might be able to go in Feb, but my boss will likely kill me because it’s first peak in tax season.
You're welcome!

Agree that for intermediates, mid-January is fine in terms of terrain availability. Although what my friends and I found in Feb 2018 is that even for advanced skiers, a Ski Week on blue terrain is still very helpful in terms of improving technique. We knew by mid-January that it was a low snow winter, but opted not to cancel or postpone the trip.
A few notes related to timing . . .

* Flights and lodging prices are slightly higher for holiday weeks, meaning MLK Week and Pres. Day Week.
* For intermediates or low advanced skiers who are mainly interested in working on fundamentals related to improving technique in general, or gaining confidence skiing in bumps, going in January is fine. Meaning there will be more than enough terrain on the groomers and easier bumps, even if black bump terrain isn't open yet.
* Advanced skiers who would like to ski Taos black terrain, waiting until February is probably better.
* From a snow standpoint, March is fine. However, spring break weeks can mean more crowded slopes. In particular, the week(s) that Texas schools are on break are busier because families can drive to TSV from many parts of Texas.

Whether or not Taos double-black terrain will be open is unpredictable more than a week beforehand. Wind holds for upper mountain lifts or closures for Lift 4 and/or the Kachina lift can happen any time. Shouldn't be a consideration when planning a trip months in advance.
I’m doubtful that I’ll be able to get away for another week between diva west and east, but if I were able I actually like the idea of President’s Day week. A lot of people already take it off at work so not a lot going on, I get the Monday off already, and I don’t have my ski condo for that period so I wouldn’t be missing time at SR anyway.
My typical approach is to work at coming up with firm dates for ski trips before Sep. Meaning getting everyone who is interested in joining me to agree on dates. For non-holiday weeks, booking lodging before Nov is usually sufficient. For a holiday week, booking in Aug or Sep is a good idea.

Certainly doesn't hurt to look around at lodging options during the summer. Check cancellation policies. For a hotel/motel, may need to call or email if rates aren't settled for the winter yet. Can book lodging somewhere to lock in Plan A. Then keep looking to see if there is a Plan B that is better. Especially if it becomes clear that someone else may be interested in sharing a room or condo/house.

Do you want ski in/out, within a mile of TSV, in the town of Taos, or another location that requires driving up the canyon for skiing? Pros and cons to each option.
I’d prefer not needing a car if possible. So ski in/out or available shuttle, and access to groceries or restaurants. How much of an inconvenience is it without a car?


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm interested. Need to share lodging (and rental of car if it comes to that). My schedule is pretty open, so dates don't matter much to me.

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