SynopsisA group of skiers from Los Alamos and Santa Fe, New Mexico, enjoyed a wintry day skiing the south slope of Santa Fe Baldy (12622') in the Pecos Wilderness of the NM Sangre de Cristo Mountains. We encountered white-out blizzard conditions at times. That meant we got some sweet untracked powder! We started from the Ski Santa Fe parking area (~10280') and followed the Winsor Trail to ~10900' (just before Puerto Nambe) before heading up the south slope of Santa Fe Baldy to the summit (12622'). Then we enjoyed a fresh powder ski descent down the mellow south slope totaling about 2200' vertical. Part of our party went to explore some other lines while some of us headed back out via the Winsor Trail. Our total roundtrip distance was about 14 miles with a total elevation gain of ~3340' (including ~500' climb to the wilderness boundary both on the way in and on the way out). It took us about 8.5 hours car-to-car.
Trailhead informationPark at the western end of the Ski Santa Fe parking "loop" and pick up the Winsor Trail (#254) here. For more details, check out the "Getting There" section of the Santa Fe Baldy page.
ApproachFrom the parking area, we hiked about 1 mile up the Winsor Trail (#254) almost 500 vertical feet to the Pecos Wilderness boundary.
From the wilderness boundary, the trail drops gradually over 1.8 miles into the Rio Nambe drainage. This made for a fast ski but we paid for it on the long slog out later. It was snowing lightly during our approach.
The low point along the Winsor trail was about 10300', and then we put on our skins to climb up toward a broad sparsely forested saddle called Puerto Nambe (~11050'). Just before reaching Puerto Nambe, we turned northward and skinned up the south slope of Santa Fe Baldy.
The snow started coming down harder until we had blizzard conditions as we approached the summit.
We were all pretty wet by the time we got to the summit, and we couldn't really see much of anything.
Ski descent and long slog outI don't have any pictures of the ski descent since it was near white-out conditions, but we had at least 6-8" of fresh powder skiing down the south slope! Visibility improved as we got lower.
Half the party decided to explore some more lines, while I and a few others decided to head out, kind of cold and low on energy. We had to put skins back on for the long slog out along the Winsor Trail, which required a 500' vertical climb back to the ~10800' saddle at the wilderness boundary.
Along the way, Matt got some bonus turns.
It was a beautiful wintry day in late April.
References and external links1. Ski Santa Fe
2. Northern New Mexico Avalanche Exchange
3. "Santa Fe, Bandelier, Los Alamos" topo map by Sky Terrain Trail Maps.