Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ski Season Gets an Early Start - Santa Fe, NM

Quad Chair and Tesuque Peak with a 40' base of early season snow
Most New Mexico ski areas will open for Thanksgiving thanks to last week's giant storm. I got up to check conditions last Saturday and found them to be rather good. Good not just for mid-November but for mid-season. I'd found a great deal on climbing skins to use with an old pair of tele-mark skis I've had stored in the garage, and I got it all working and stomped my way up Open Slope to try them out. Worked like a charm though descending (as always) was a bit more trying. Though the snow coverage was great the ski trails were un-groomed (packed but chunky) and I flailed all the way down. Very enjoyable flailing though, and I was happy to see how easy it is to skin up a trail. In past years I've used my beefy nordic skis to track up the catwalks then tele-mark down. Climbing time with skins was nearly identical, ~25min base to top-of-the-quad. A helmet is recommended for either option. Free-heeled skis can result in some fairly violent and uncontrolled crashes.

Conditions at NORSKI were hard to beat
There was a fair number of folks like myself climbing to ski. As I was heading down the mountain around 830ish, I saw what looked like dozens more skiers on their way up. People are excited.

I brought along my nordic setup just in case I'd failed sizing my skins or some other overlooked gear problem, and ended up skiing a loop at NORSKI where the snow was fantastic. I found three downed trees that have since been removed by the More-ski NORSKI organization. Had never heard of these guys but sounds like they're on top of things up there.

Hoping for a bit more snow to come along and really establish a lasting base of snowpack. Sounds like the northern areas may get a bit this weekend so we'll see if any of it carries south to our end of the Sangres.  

Related Posts:
 - Santa Fe's New Ski Shuttle
 - Cross Country Skiing NORSKI trail
 - Santa Fe's First Snow of the Season - 2015

View Norski Trail - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Santa Fe's New Ski Shuttle - 2015

courtesy of The Santa Fe Reporter
Although the season's first snow arrived in the mountains three weeks back, this year's much hyped El-Nino-fueled ski season is only now at our doorstep. Can't say I was the only one roaming REI this weekend looking to upgrade gear and compare lift pass deals.

Right, so this winter also marks the rollout of the city's first mountain ski shuttle. Often discussed through the years, never seriously planned or proposed due to the problem of funding. In a continuing effort to promote Santa Fe as more of an outdoor destination the funding problem has been overcome via a patchwork of dollars sourced from the city, county, RTD, and Ski Santa Fe itself. Planners are expecting 11,000 trips during the winter season and hoping demand for the shuttle can support it's viablity for future seasons.

So I ask myself, would I use the shuttle? I think so particularly if I wanted to ski a few more runs and Mrs. Dirt wanted to head home early. I could also see myself riding up with the nino who could appreciate the whole thing as an adventure. As a kid of the '80s we would have loved this shuttle. Many of us would be dropped off by our parents on lower Artist Rd on weekends where we'd hitch to the top. At the end of the day we'd often ski Big Tesuque down to the campground, throw snowballs at the fleets of Baptist Church group vans, then hitch down to Ft. Marcy where we'd lineup and call our parents on the pay phone. My guess is that this shuttle will be used heavily by those who can't drive (kids) and those visiting from out of town. I'm optimistic it will work.

The Mountain Trail Shuttle, as it is officially named, has planned stops in town and all along Hyde Park road including most trailheads (w/ the exception of Borrego and NORSKI), and including Ten Thousand Waves. The RTD website shows there's an app to track shuttle location, here, however I'm seeing that the 255 Mountain Shuttle hasn't yet been added (as of Nov 17) and I have no idea how well this might work. The ride schedule shows three planned weekday trips, and seven on weekends. Best parking options are Fort Marcy at Murales Rd (next to the Zozobra kick-stand), and Dale Ball at Sierra del Norte. Bikes won't be accommodated for the time being which people are griping about, but I mean it's winter - there's a lot of snow about, so if that's your thing than Winsor MTB ascents will remain part of the deal.

Cost looks to be $5 per trip (each way), with corresponding discounts provided by both Ski Santa Fe and Ten Thousand Waves. Meaning that lift passes for shuttle riders will be discounted $5 at the top with proof of ridership, and stops at the Waves on the way down appear to have the same benefit. Apres ski for the win (I'm looking at you Izanami).

Mountain Trail Shuttle stops_.pdf
Schedule and pickup map
Mountain Trail Shuttle Details
Shuttle Tracker app

Related Posts:
 - Santa Fe's First Snow - 2015
 - Trading the Downhill Skis for Nordic
 - French Alps Freeskiing - Candide Thovex

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Santa Fe's First Snow of the Season - 2015

First snow with the last of the Fall's aspens, Oct 21, 2015, courtesy Clyde Mueller for the SF New Mexican
A bit late with this but we've tracked the mountains' first snow fall each year back to 2010 so we're not going to let an out of state wedding and Halloween holiday break our streak. Snow fell in the high-country on Wed. and Thr. of our last big storm (Oct 21, 22). As much as 9" was reported by folks that made it up to play. More snow followed with accumulation last Friday (Oct 30). I happened to witness the year's first snow while driving through Flagstaff, AZ. Snow on Humphries towering north of town.

The timing this year lined up well with last weekend's Ski swap. As can be seen from the previous 1st-Snow dates below we're right about at the median date this year. Folks at every party and get together I've been at the last few weeks are all talking snow and skiing. There's a good snow vibe out there and hopefully it will carry through in the weeks preceding the Holidays.

Related Posts:
 - Santa Fe's First Snow 2014 - Oct. 21st
 SFe's First Snow 2013 - Oct. 12th
 - SFe's First Snow 2012 - Nov. 16th
 - SFe's First Snow 2011 - Sep. 10th
 - SFe's First Snow 2010 - Nov. 10th

Friday, October 30, 2015

Grizzly Ghouls From Every Tomb...

Halloween, monsters, ghouls, and the all things that knock and rumble in the dark. This year's batch of chilling ghost stories are up at Best read in the shadows of night with storms and wind unfettered in the darkness just beyond the curtained windows. Is something peering in? Lurking in the cold, with vacant eyes and maddened grin? Perhaps there is. For All Hallows Eve dawns once more.

Related Posts:
 - Something Wicked (2014)
 - Trick-or-Treat (2011)

...are closing in to seal your doom.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Raven's Ridge - Pecos Wilderness Boundary

An interesting and insightful discussion took place this week in the mtb community regarding cycling on Raven's Ridge and areas above the radio towers to the south. The towers sit on Tesuque Peak, on bike or foot you can follow a faint (unsigned) trail north to Deception Peak, then descend west down Raven's Ridge to the wilderness gate on Winsor. Raven's is a steep and technical descent, hike-a-bike in places. The volume of bike traffic in such a difficult area is in dispute but may be a side discussion to the greater concerns of environmental impact and wilderness mandates.

Treeline on Deception Peak. Will Wissman photography and Mellow Velo graphic
Of note was the condition of the current trail, the fact that the trail actually wanders across the wilderness boundary in several places and is therefore not technically bike-appropriate, and references the illegal tree cut north of the ridge that has been in the paper recently. There were several vigorous defenses of mtb trail access, most notably by Brent Bonwell who has taken lead on most if not all of the new bridge crossings along the Winsor over the last couple years.

Several comments discussed the need for a national forest trail other than the service roads to the top (Aspen Vista, and Sunset), or Raven's which is quite technical and apparently off-limits to bikes in sections due to wilderness designation. Lack of signage was brought up, a constant and ubiquitous problem with area trails and access issues (see Deception Peak ridge trail above).

A fascinating and enlightened discussion by all. Recommended.

Google Groups - Fat Tire Society

Related Posts:
 - Trail Running Santa Fe Baldy and the Three Peaks
 - Ski Touring Deception Peak
 - Explorations in the Pecos - Nambe Creek Trail-160
 - The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Addition - Taos/Red River


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