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New Mexico back country skiing

 


Big Tesuque
In and around Santa Fe we are lucky to have a few exceptional BC ski areas that require a varying degree’s of experience. The Most Popular BC run in Santa Fe is the Big Tesuque Peak run. Big T as we know it locally is beautiful Open Powder run which descends from the radio towers on Big Tesuque Peak. Just behind the ski Basin. Access can be attained via the Big Tesuque Creek Trail, the Aspen Vista road or from the Ski Basin. Often People will end there day at Santa Fe with a Big T run to really close out the quads. Make Laps from Aspen Vista. Always Ski with a Partner as Big T is not patrolled and can be a dangerous place. USGS Aspen Basin Quad.

Nambe Chutes (Deception Peak/Lake Peak)
A spring classic, Nambe chutes should be avoided in the dead of winter due to potential avalanche conditions. While some people do ski the chutes year round I have personally seen a five foot crown in the Nambe chutes telling me that it can rip out big. Ski at your own risk this is a serious alpine undertaking.Always asess conditions and ski with shovels , avalanche beacons and probes. None of these tools are effective if the user does not have proper knowledge of their use. Always ski with partners.

The Nambe chutes can be accessed from the Ski Basin or more appropriately from the ravens ridge Trail off of the Winsor Trail out of the Ski Basin parking lot. Climb ravens ridge to the top of Deception Peak , Nambe chutes descend to the North west into the Nambe Basin. The Skin out to the Windsor trail is long and should be avoided if snow conditions permit a climb out. Remember avalanche is as likely climbing in the Nambe chutes as it is skiing assess conditions before taking the easy route out. If snow is unstable descend to the Winsor and skin out to the parking lot.

In spring the nambe chutes can provide a great place for long Yo-Yo days. Nambe is usually skiable into May.As the days get warmer wet slough avalanches are possible.USGS Aspen Basin Quad

Warning: Avalanche Area!

Heavens Hill
Heavens Hill used to be a secret stash but we all took too many buddies to the secret stash and have now made it the most well known and finest backcountry ski shot in Santa Fe, Perhaps, one of the best in New Mexico. The nice thing about Heavens is there is a pretty serious weed out factor with two peaks to climb and the skin of the day up Santa Fe Ski Area (the old Poma line is the fastest).

Heavens Hill provides a rolling 2000 ft descent through evenly spaced aspens and pine trees. Snow conditions are usually good and avalanche conditions are moderate. Skiers should be prepared to be in the mountains for 8 hours as Heavens is a very long day. The Top of Heavens Hill is Northwest of Lake Peak 12,409 ft. reference the USGS Quad for Aspen Peak. The route to Heavens Hill can be tricky and at times Perilous. The “Cat Walk” to Lake peak is an exciting 9 foot traverse on a knife edge rib. All aspects of ski mountaineering come into play on this approach. Be prepared for a small climb with skis on your pack. I have seen people rope up here, cowboys and cowgirls stay home.

The route from the summit of Lake Peak is vaguely as follows. Lake Peak has three prominent ribs that make up the mass, descend the rib to the North Skirting the Northwest Side of Nambe Basin. Once a saddle has been reached your course should skirt the prominent Basin to your North Eastern aspect. The direct Line skis through the 11,200 ft mark on the USGS Aspen Vista Quad. Heavens Hill Makes a perfect diamond shape with the top of Lake Peak the High Point on the diamond and the Windsor trail the low point on the diamond. The Best Lines are down the center. Don’t miss the Winsor as you could be in for a major epic. An Alpine start is appropriate as well as a complete backcountry ski safety assortment: Beacons , shovel, Ava-Lung, Thermos, food etc. Don’t forget the Map. Be Careful and respect Mother Nature. This is out there.

HEAVENS HILL IS A REMOTE PLACE! SKI WITH PARTNERS,ONLY THE MOST EXPERIENCED BACKCOUNTRY SKIERS. AVALANCHES ARE COMMON IN THIS ENTIRE REGION.THERE IS NO REPLACEMENT FOR EDUCATION AND THE PROPER GEAR.SANGRE DE CRISTO MOUNTAIN WORKS BY NO MEANS ENCOURAGES OR DISCOURAGES SKIING IN THIS AREA, THIS IS SIMPLY A GUIDE TO THE AREA. BACKCOUNTRY SKIING CAN BE FATAL.

Lost Fork

The Lost Fork is a small shot off the aspen vista road. The approach to the Lost Fork is a long slog up the aspen vista road to the second to last turn in the road before heading to the summitt. This jump off is not obvious and best skied first with someone who knows the entrance to the track. Once the track is located, ski up through the moss covered pines to the ridge, approximately 600-900 feet above the road. This little shot is great for a quickie after work or on a solo BC powder day although we do not recommend skiing solo. The lost fork is a fun descent with a long luge run out on the Aspen Vista road. A better suggestion would be to ski Lost Fork and the skin to the radio towers on the Big Tesuque ( See above description )to fetch some more of the fresh. Lost Fork is a remote ski site, please be prepared for all conditions and enjoy. Please ski with care. For more info consult our Back Country Checklist.

 

 

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