Early winter to late spring Kachina is amazing
I started my North American ski season making my first turns of the year on a mountain I grew up on and where my family has been skiing for the better part of 30 years, Kachina Peak in Taos New Mexico.I toured up Kachina the week before Thanksgiving and was rewarded with record deep snow and epic pow.
El Nino was predicted to treat Taos well and for the most part this came true. My brother lives at the base of Taos Ski Valley and along with local legend Wade Lee they both claim to have skied lines that haven’t been skied in a few years this season.
Starting my season touring up Kachina was a great way to kick off my season and put me in a good place mentally and allowed me to reconnect with my roots of skiing. I have skied all over the world this year including two big trips to Alaska and Japan, but my roots and heart will always be in Taos. The place is very unique on many levels and draws people from all over the world for various reasons.
I therefore felt that it would appropriate for me to end my North America season in Taos as well. An opening the book and closing the book of my 15/16 season ski touring up Kachina. I had made plans to be back in NM in early June and after touring off Tioga pass in the Eastern Sierras the week before I knew the Sangre de Christo (translates to blood of Christ for the purple color of the range at sunset, a sub section of the Southern Rockies) would be the perfect way to close out my season.
It was June 1st and after spending the night before at the Taos Mesa Brewing company I had the energy and motivation to put in work on Kachina. I again drove up the access road to the Phoenix base and the foot of Kachina. There was not quite enough snow down low (a little over 9k feet) of elevation to skin from the truck as I did in November and thus had to A-frame the skis and hike to the 3rd lift tower where the snow was. I then skinned to the flank of Kachin where it felt like mid-March rather than early June.
After a quick break and water I started my progress up Main Street on Kachina face with near perfect corn and a strategic skin track set up made the summit in less than an hour.At the top I was surprised by some big horn sheep grazing on some grass and at first was didn’t realize they were there, I had no idea they lived up this high. They seem to go about their business.
Even after all the big mountains I have been on and skied this year and in my life overall this view is still and always will be my favorite. You are on the roof of New Mexico and can see for nearly 200 miles. Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest peak can be seen clearly as well. Being up there and closing my season out where I started was just what I needed in my life. The turns down where perfect fast and soft corn that made me feel like was skiing mash potatoes.
There was plenty of snow and even a few features to air off on the face. I skied into lower Hunziker bowl on the exit off Kachina and into the trees where the snow also was great considering the date.
I finally ran out of snow and into some grass and did some Candide Thovex like grass skiing just for the hell of it. As I clicked out of my skis and looked up at the majestic mountain I gave thanks for another amazing and safe season.