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SantaFeTaosSipapuRedRiverAngelFireWolfCreekDurangoTellurideCrestedButte

Waited all winter for the perfect departure time for a
western ski trip and I came pretty close. Here are my
mini reports.

Santa Fe- What?, people have asked me, skiing in the
desert. Yep, and with awesome base depths this season
(133"). I hit the access road after running the
gauntlet of art galleries. It winds into the mountains
above Santa Fe and the growth of the snowbank was
great to see. None to a few inches to a few feet.
Started, and ended, the day with some nice cruisers
off the Super Chief quad and after the blood was
warmed properly headed off to Easter Bowl to sample
the black diamond terrain. The bumps were soft and
perfectly formed, plenty of minimally tracked powder
was to be found along the trail edges so I didn't
venture into the trees much. When the sky is puking
powder all season how can you not like a ski area. The
one word description for this blue bird day was JOY.

Taos- You've heard the hype, read the reports, they
are all true. Never did see the place as I skied in
clouds and snow all day but I got a good feel for the
lift accessed. Did about 10 runs in the West Basin
area but the visibility was poor over there all day
long. The occasional spectral shape descended off the
West Basin Ridge only to revert to solid human form at
the bottom. How do they ski in a whiteout, was their
first language Braille. Over on the east side
visibility was good to the top of the lifts and there
was less wind. Walkyries and Hunziker Bowls yielded
one great run after another. The days mantra, "That's
what I'm talking about!" Oops said it out load, they
must have thought I was nuts, well I'll never see any
of them again.

Sipapu- A small locals area in the vicinity of Taos
with a very funky vibe. The vibe was helped along
since it was dress up day. The main room in the rustic
lodge had a couple racks of costumes and a few boxes
of props. I gave the prize to the overweight guy in
pink tutu.
The two (lets call them 18 yo) babes skiing in micro
mini skirts would have won but they started adding
layers at noon. Warm temps the day before with 2-3"
overnight yielded dust on slush with ice in
underneath. (Better than I expected since in Taos
(town) it poured with thunder and lightning) A lot of
the trails were narrow and winding following the
terrain features nicely. But the challenge was due to
the conditions rather that the terrain. The top half
of the run under the main lift was nicely bumped up
with the lower portion groomed for high speed
cruising, lap time. A nice family area.

Red River- "The resort that Texas built", said the guy
on lift, twang was the accent of the day. Not spared
from the rain that hit Taos (town) the day before, I
think that only a New England native could have
enjoyed the conditions that day. I sampled a few black
trails but they were tough on the knees so I spent the
day cruising the blues. Grooming was good, conditions
very fast. Another nice little family area.

Angel Fire- Mmm fresh snow. After frustrating attempts
to find the free lot then the ticket window then the
change machine I finally hit the slopes and was
frustrated by the long runouts. I did a half dozen
runs on the frontside and kept ending up with a long
runout. But then over to the backside and I was home.
Very few people in the trees and I was able to get
untracked in the trees, visible from the trails, all
day. Interesting to watch people struggling with bumps
while I am kicking up clouds of powder a few yards
away. Highlight was the 7/10 mile hike to future
terrain where I got third tracks on the already named
Nitro.

Wolf Creek- Huge snow banks, huge base depth, mountain
top in the clouds. Think snow at Wolf Creek, it was
everywhere in large amounts and coming down from the
sky on top of it. Lots of powder but not steep enough
was my impression, what was steep was short. The top
of the lifts was cloudy but I did get a brief glimpse
of Knife Ridge Chutes, again nice terrain but short.
Waterfall area was awesome (multiple laps) but not
enough vert. Also because it was snowing the runout to
the Alberta lift was a drag, couldn't carry enough
speed to get anywhere near the lift  and skating is
tough with 3-4" on the ground, flatter over there than
it looks on the map.

Durango- Don't you hate it when the patrollers
complain about too much snow, give that guy a slap
will you. Don't know why but the place was deserted
when I skied there, is it a holiday. Liked the village
trail pod, the middle pod was a confusing mess, but
the western, Grizzly/Legends lifts were must ski.
Everything I skied over there was great and the snow
was awesome. Glades like Paul's Park and Poet's could
not have been better and they led me into various
shots between trails that were mostly untracked, wow.
That led me into an area where I should not have been,
too far out of sight and hearing and all alone. But my
nose sniffed out a small passage into that tree stand
and I followed it. I was rewarded by the steepest
deepest perfect powder of my trip. Like Goldilocks
said not too fluffy, not too heavy, just right. Turn
after turn of untracked, maybe untouched, powder. Then
a bellwether snowboarder track appeared, I was
trending right he left, hmmm lets go left. Ended up on
the flats almost midway between the two lifts and I
pulled out the map to discover I would have cliffed
out if I continued right. Can anything be better than
this.

Telluride- Not better but almost as good although some
aspects were getting sunbaked and the lower stuff was
boilerplate (not much snow on the ground in town). Hey
today I get to slather on some sunscreen. Parked in
town and immediately worked my way up into Prospect
Bowl to ski the double blacks. Snow was excellent off
the Prospect lift with Confidence, Crystal, La Rosa
and Genevieve nicely bumped but way too much runout.
Ended up doing laps on the Gold Hill, Palmyra and Apex
lifts for most of the day which ended up being my
favorite area of the mountain. Noticed a lot of recent
avi activity on the out of bounds stuff.

Crested Butte- Big rock which a 60-70" base is barely
able to cover, at least up high. Never did laps on a
T-bar before but that is the way to access the
steepest of the terrain there. Overheard many lift
conversations about jumps and landing areas and locals
sharing notes about various private runs with sidelong
looks at me, I'm cool. There was also some kind of
extreme competition going on. I drifted over there for
awhile. "Gee I can do that", oh wait he just nailed a
15 footer, and another.

Learned the hard way that the other tracks through the
almost untracked powder were also made by non-locals,
was that a spark. So much for the perfect tune.

I think I made enough memories to last over the long
hot summer.
Steve



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