Taos — Mountain layout
Taos has something for everyone in the intermediate, advanced and expert levels. Every good skier will be challenged every day.
|Expert, Advanced: For tree skiers, Taos has a special challenge, the twin runs Castor and Pollux. They hardly look like runs, just steep wooded parts of the mountain, unskiable, where some joker put a sign that looks just like a trail marker. The trees are 2 to 15 feet apart, and advanced classes regularly train here.
Powder skiing lasts on Highline Ridge and Kachina Peak, for two reasons: They are double-black diamonds and Kachina Peak is reachable only after an hour-and-fifteen-minute hike from the top chair at 11,800 feet to the ridge at 12,500 feet. You can, however, ski off Highline Ridge and West Basin Ridge after only a 15-minute hike. Skiers are advised to go with an instructor or a patroller; at the very least, they must check in with the patrol at the top of Chair 6. The ski patrol will give you a rough screening to see if you can handle the double-diamond terrain. In any case you must ski the ridge with a partner.
Advanced skiers won be disappointed. All of the tree skiing is an effort and the black-diamond trails are as advertised. Hunziker, isolated by a short climb, provides good bumps that narrow about halfway down the trail. Otherwise test yourself on some of the off-trail skiing dropping from the ridges.
|Intermediate: Taos has a lot of terrain at this level. Smooth bowls are found off the Kachina quad chair. Other good intermediate terrain is under Chairs 7 and 8. Anything marked as a blue trail is a blast, with plenty of length for cruising.
Some at this level may feel pushed; if you
|Beginner, First-timer: Taos has some nice beginner terrain, such as Honeysuckle, which descends the skiers right side of the ridge. Bonanza and Bambi give beginners a way down on the other side of the ridge. The main problem is negotiating either White Feather or Rubezahl when they are crowded with skiers coming back into the village. Despite the slow-down efforts of ski hosts stationed every 20 feet or so, both runs resemble the Hollywood Freeway at rush hour, except that the faster skiers aren stalled in traffic. They zip around the slower ones, who are gingerly making their way home. On busy days its a mess. Timing is important: Come down early, or better yet, be one of the last to descend.
Only athletic novices should attempt to learn here. Despite the highly regarded ski school, the jump from the tiny learning area to the mountain is enormous. Better learning terrain is at nearby Angel Fire or Red River.