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TR Taos Ski Valley (TSV) Jan. 28 thru Feb. 5, 2023

Olesya Chornoguz

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
What did we ski down the time we hiked the Ridge in 2020?
Also, Kachina Main Street looks good and good coverage without a lot of bumps. Isn't Main Street more of a single black?
We skied Corner Chute in 2020 from the Ridge. There is no single black terrain from Kachina lift, so no Kachina Main Street is not a single black. It may be an easier double black, but it is a double black on the trail map.
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
We skied Corner Chute in 2020 from the Ridge. There is no single black terrain from Kachina lift, so no Kachina Main Street is not a single black. It may be an easier double black, but it is a double black on the trail map.
Is Wild, wild west in the opposite direction from Corner Chute?
 

Olesya Chornoguz

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The coverage on the few double black terrain trails we skied was decent, best coverage was probably Wild West off the Ridge. The worst coverage was Castor and Pollux double black (skied after class). Kachina was mostly decent, some rocks but mostly easily avoidable.
 

TNtoTaos

Angel Diva
@MissySki we will do it together, the Grey Jays are well trained lol and they will fly up to you when you pull the food out, they aren't really scared of people at all, you will see. :smile:
Me too, me too! I was amazed to see people feeding them on Bambi. They are little beggers -- I saw at least 4-5 of them hanging out and feeding from peoples' hands!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
If I remember correctly @marzNC hiked up and down using the same track, you don't have to ski down. Yes, views from there are great.
Yep, Jason, Bill, and I hiked up on a Saturday morning without skis in 2017. It was a recommendation from the free mountain tour TSV was experimenting with for MCP holders. Still took quite an effort for the third day at high alititude. Got passed by tweens on TSV teams with skis on the shoulder go up as if there wasn't an incline.

Walking down actually took a lot of work. Too many people going up to use the same track. There was a lot of snow so someone had to break trail. Bill kept mumbling he should've brought his skis. Skiing down one of the double-blacks to Honeysuckle wouldn't have been a big deal for him.

Since then I've done the hike with a very experienced instructor a couple of times. Only worth it to me if there is an opportunity to ski deep powder. So far have only skied Corner Chute, which is above Honeysuckle. That means going a little ways towards Kachina Peak. When it's windy on the Ridge, it's a relief to be able to get lower into the trees.

February 2017, hike without skis, about 10:30am
TSV hike Feb2017 - 1.jpegTSV hike Feb2017 - 2.jpegTSV hike Feb2017 - 3.jpegTSV hike Feb2017 - 4.jpeg

Deep powder in Corner Chute with regular Ski Week class, February 2019
Man in red was pretty tall, over 6 feet
TSV Corner Chute powder Feb2019 - 1.jpeg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Me too, me too! I was amazed to see people feeding them on Bambi. They are little beggers -- I saw at least 4-5 of them hanging out and feeding from peoples' hands!
When I was watching a patroller change the status board near the top of Lift 7A, the liftie came out of the lift hut for a couple minutes. She had 2-3 birds flying to her in under a minute.

Top of Lift 7A
TSV top of Lift 7A Feb2019 - 1.jpeg

Status board for front side double-black runs, adjustment by ski pole, board is easily visible when unloading Lift 2
TSV top of Lift 7A Feb2019 - 2.jpeg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Only did one double-black top-to-bottom last week. My class did a teaching run down Longhorn towards the end of the week. That's a long run with no trees. However, the access is a relatively narrow trail that was on the icy side because it gets a lot of sun. The coverage was pretty mixed. There was one place where Derek headed across some exposed grass to make sure there weren't rocks lurking. At the next place we had to figure out the best way down there were exposed rocks on both sides. The only choice was to deal with the gnarly big bumps in the middle, which was relatively narrow. By then we were incorporating multiple options for getting through nasty bumps.

Needless to say, we weren't stopping to take pictures.

The other double-black terrain the class did was taking the entrance to Upper Pollux to get to the transfer over to Blitz. Derek said just get down anyway you like. By the he knew the four of us were all capable of dealing with steeper terrain. When Jason and I did Blitz another day, we opted to take the Chicken Blitz entrance.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
When I was wandering around solo last weekend, I had a chance to take pictures of random trails. The pictures below were taken around 11:30 on Sunday morning. Not exactly busy on the slopes.

TSV has plenty of fun groomers mixed in with the bump terrain. Note that in the late afternoon, the light gets flat on the front side. Especially off Lift 8 that is right under the West Ridge. In early February the sun goes behind the ridge around 3:00. That can be a reason to ski the back side after lunch, and return to the main base via the Rubezahl cat track.

It's a good idea to learn early in the week how to start Rubezahl. If you have lunch at the Bavarian or go all the way down to the base of Lift 4, you can get to Rubezahl without riding Lift 4. For advanced skiers who want to ski Street Car (black) before heading to Rubezahl, helps to stop skiing bumps high enough to get some speed before making the turn onto the cat track. It's possible to ski Rubezahl without ever poling or skating but most people have to put in a little extra effort on the flat section in the middle.

View from Lift 2 of Bonanza, green that starts at the top of Lift 8 and goes to Whistles-top
TSV groomers Feb2023 - 1.jpeg

TSV groomers Feb2023 - 2.jpeg

Decision point on backside between green, blue, black options heading towards base of Lift 7
TSV groomers Feb2023 - 3.jpeg

Moe's (black) with bumps, can get to Maxi's or Totemoff at the bottom
TSV groomers Feb2023 - 4.jpeg

Moe's (upper left), entrance to Maxi's (past trail sign), taken from Totemoff (blue to green)
TSV groomers Feb2023 - 5.jpeg

Honeysuckle (green)
TSV groomers Feb2023 - 6.jpeg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
This was my second Private Ski Week with Derek Gordon, following up one a year ago. What my ski buddies have in common besides being around age 65 is that we are more interested in working on bump technique than spending time hiking the Ridge or skiing off the Kachina Lift during a morning lesson. That said, we are all up for exploring black and double-black terrain in the afternoons when there is good company and decent snow. Derek is well over 70 and has been teaching at TSV for over 40 years. He's both serious about teaching and a lot of fun.

We mostly worked on groomers, blue and black bumps. We did Upper Hunziker's on Day 2 and did it a few more times later in the week. It had some of the best snow on the back side. By the end of the week, we'd worked on several black trails on the front side (Tell Glade, Blitz, Inferno, Psycho Path, Poco Gusto) plus Lorelie and Longhorn (long double-black). While we went down Zagava (black) more than once to get from Bambi to Porcupine, it was an exercise in survival more than anything else. Parts of Zagava were pretty slick, as usually happens because of the steep pitch and sun exposure. Didn't help that there were still a few exposed rocks.

Learned an amazing amount about going "3 miles an hour" on steep bumps. Hoping to have the same group again next season.

Lorelie (black) with Derek
@DebbieSue (white), Jason (blue), Margaret (black), MarzNC (black jacket, grey pants)
TSV Lorelie with Derek Feb2023 - 1.jpegTSV Lorelie with Derek Feb2023 - 2.jpegTSV Lorelie with Derek Feb2023 - 3.jpeg
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
This was my second Private Ski Week with Derek Gordon, following up one a year ago. What my ski buddies have in common besides being around age 65 is that we are more interested in working on bump technique than spending time hiking the Ridge or skiing off the Kachina Lift during a morning lesson. That said, we are all up for exploring black and double-black terrain in the afternoons when there is good company and decent snow. Derek is well over 70 and has been teaching at TSV for over 40 years. He's both serious about teaching and a lot of fun.

We mostly worked on groomers, blue and black bumps. We did Upper Hunziker's on Day 2 and did it a few more times later in the week. It had some of the best snow on the back side. By the end of the week, we'd worked on several black trails on the front side (Tell Glade, Blitz, Inferno, Psycho Path, Poco Gusto) plus Lorelie and Longhorn (long double-black). While we went down Zagava (black) more than once to get from Bambi to Porcupine, it was an exercise in survival more than anything else. Parts of Zagava were pretty slick, as usually happens because of the steep pitch and sun exposure. Didn't help that there were still a few exposed rocks.

Learned an amazing amount about going "3 miles an hour" on steep bumps. Hoping to have the same group again next season.

Lorelie (black) with Derek
@DebbieSue (white), Jason (blue), Margaret (black), MarzNC (black jacket, grey pants)
View attachment 20464View attachment 20465View attachment 20466
Is “3 miles an hour” meant to be about walking speed?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Is “3 miles an hour” meant to be about walking speed?
Not really. It's an expression that captures the idea of keeping the vertical speed so slow overall regardless of the pitch that there is plenty of time at the top of every bump in order to make a deliberate decision of what to do next. Looking ahead and having a dynamic plan for where to go next is a key skill too. It's NOT about going the same slow speed all the time. There is a very clear fast/slow change of speed. Watching Derek ski down blue or black bumps made far more sense towards the end of this second Ski Week with him than it did a year ago.

When I came across a regular Ski Week finishing on Street Car (short black) on Feb. 5 (Day 1), that instructor was starting to work on the same technique that Derek had been teaching my class. I stopped to watch because included a couple friends were in it. It was a class for advanced skiers and probably was going to be working their way up to skiing a double-black as a teaching run if things went well.

Fair to say the way I skied Street Car at the end of my Ski Week wasn't how I would've skied it without the lessons with Derek and other Ski Week instructors in the past five seasons. It's a short run, relatively wide, and not that steep for a Taos black. Learning where and how to practice on bumps of all types is a key reason I do Ski Weeks. Also why I don't care if there isn't powder to ski when I'm at TSV. Sunshine, little or no wind, temps in the 20s, and plenty of bumps is the ideal ski day during a Ski Week for me. Worked out well for the Ski Week that started Jan. 29, 2023.

The fundamentals we would start with each morning on groomers are pretty common. However, Derek put them in the context of how the skills would apply in bumps of all sizes. The focus in 2023 was different than in 2022, partially due to the different makeup of the class as well as the difference a year made for the three students who had worked with Derek before. I'm a visual learner. So improving a skill by following an instructor is the best way for me to learn. At the same time, hearing why a skill applies when skiing bumps helps in the long run. Seeing repeated demonstrations when skiing bumps of what Derek wanted us to be able to achieve was . . . as they say . . . priceless.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
Grey jays are known as Camp Robbers because they are not at all intimidated by people and can be quite aggressive about obtaining food from you. At Whistler it's a thing to lift your ski pole in the air in lift lines and they land on it, or they land on your helmet, but you aren't supposed to feed them for obvious reasons (I can see how granola is kinda like bird seed, but with the sweeteners...how much should they really have?). On more popular hikes here in WA they can be such pests--you really have to guard your food and I've even heard of them getting bites from sandwiches as the person is taking a bite themselves.

In Canada they also call them Whiskey Jacks. The Whistler Tourism website has thing about them:


A whiskey jack (aka gray jay, Canada jay, or camp robber) is what would happen if you took the food persistence of a seagull, and put it into a cute little mountain bird’s body. Instead of shooing them away you’ll want to hold your hand up in the hopes that they come and perch for a bit.

Whiskey Jack


A friendly whiskey yack comes to say hello. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

You can find whiskey jacks high in the mountains, typically in places where hikers stop for a snack. I’ve seen them at the deck of the Roundhouse Lodge, the top of Peak Chair, the campground at Garibaldi Lake, and at the Harmony Lake boardwalk. As tempting as it can be to feed them, please don’t. Not only is human food not part of their natural diet, but they also cache their food (they take that food and hide it for later). That hidden food can attract bears to campsites, putting yourself and fellow campers at risk.

Whiskey Jack


Back off, get your own sandwich. These adorable little thieves are always ready to swoop in for a nibble. PHOTO MEGAN WILSON
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The short sections of bumps commonly used for Ski Week lessons include small areas on/near green or blue trails and a few relatively short black trails.

On the front side, Porcupine and Bambi are blue groomers with small bump sections where the trails widen out a bit. On the front side, White Feather Gully (blue) and Tell Glade (black) are used by intermediate and advanced classes. There is a small section of bumps where Stauffenberg becomes a groomer (on skier's left). Psycho Path is a short black off the first section of White Feather. But it's hard to know about snow coverage looking from the entrance gate. Poco Gusto (black) is just above the base of Lift 2) is worth finding if not introduced by an instructor.

On the back side, those who are used to Lonestar being a blue bump run will have to look elsewhere. It's become a terrain park instead of Maxi's. When there is enough fresh snow, perhaps Maxi's won't be fully groomed. That was the case in 2018 after a foot of snow fell during a low snow season when terrain features hadn't been built on Maxi's yet. The most obvious bumps when skiing down Honeysuckle to the Kachina side are on Moe's. Papa Bear (black) has bumps on one side and is groomed on the other. The most visible practice bumps are on the far side of Shalako, in full view of the upper section of Lift 4. Showoff and Ruby's Gulley are short blacks under Lift 4 that are steeper than they look from the lift. Those bumps get pretty big fairly fast after a snowstorm. Middle Patton and Lower Japanese Flag Glade were the blues where my ski buddies and I first started skiing Taos bumps back in 2017.

Someone who loads Lift 1 at 9:00 and wants a warm up run before a Ski Week lesson starts at 9:30 has the option of including a few bumps on the side of Porcupine, Bambi or off White Feather (green).

The location an instructor chooses to start a lesson after Monday may influence the choice of where to warm up. I learned from Derek to ride up Lift 2 to warm up on Bambi instead of taking Porcupine, which requires doing the last part of White Feather that is a cat track. An intermediate can take White Feather from the top of Lift 1 to the bottom and still make it back to Whistlestop by 9:30. By midweek, many instructors choose to meet their class at the Whistlestop instead of at the base of Lift 1.
 

TNtoTaos

Angel Diva
On the back side, those who are used to Lonestar being a blue bump run will have to look elsewhere. It's become a terrain park instead of Maxi's. When there is enough fresh snow, perhaps Maxi's won't be fully groomed. That was the case in 2018 after a foot of snow fell during a low snow season when terrain features hadn't been built on Maxi's yet.
I rode up Lift 1 with Henry today (Ski School Supervisor), and we discussed Lonestar. Seems TSV got a lot of comments last yr about Maxie's not being a good terrain park, so they decided to switch the terrain park to Lonestar, leaving the upper part to develop bumps and the lower part as the terrain park, but it seems they're beginning to regret that decision. Many of the instructors are upset that they no longer have Lonestar to use as an Intermediate bump teaching run, and the terrain park part of it is really only several ramps.

I mentioned that I planned to comment about this in my survey form, and that I knew others who were unhappy about the LS change, as well. He agreed that the best thing to do was to send in comments about it; apparently this change is not set in stone, or ice, LOL.
 

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