Backcountry Skiing Jicarita Peak

Backcountry Skiing Jicarita Peak

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 36.05540°N / 105.5624°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: May 3, 2008
Activities Activities: Hiking, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring


We skinned/climbed up to Jicarita Peak (12835') in the Pecos Wilderness of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, starting from the barricade near the end of Forest Road 161 (~10383'), and enjoyed a spring ski descent back to the car. The total distance was about 9.5 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 2452 ft. Our time from the car to the summit of Jicarita Peak was about 4.5 hours, and our total car-to-car time was about 7.75 hours.

Trailhead and approach

The Alamitos trailhead is located near a vehicle barricade near the end of Forest Road 161 (good gravel road), which is accessible from NM State Route 518 (a few miles west of its junction with NM State Route 121). From the barricade, we hiked a short distance (<0.5 mile) to the end of the gravel road and headed up the hill on Trail #19 toward Serpent Lake. We put our skis/skins on here and did our best to follow the trail, as it was buried under snow.

The approach was through forest and shortly we crossed an irrigation ditch. We lost the trail on a fairly steep NE facing slope but kept skinning and roughly followed the Rito Angostura drainage uphill. We hit treeline a little NE of Serpent Lake and shortly found ourselves at the bottom of a big mostly E-facing snow-filled bowl below PT 12828, which is also known as S. Jicarita Peak and is unranked (rises 288' from its saddle with Jicarita Peak).
Bowl beneath S. JicaritaScott at the bottom of the east-facing bowl below S. Jicarita.

Climb and summit

From the bottom of the bowl, we skinned and then bootpacked up the slope, bushwhacking at times, and ended up on the edge of the big summit plateau of S. Jicarita. We saw some sheep peering down at us on the way up. Once on the summit plateau, we kept hiking W-NW on dry rock/grass toward the saddle between S. Jicarita and Jicarita. From there, we put the skis back on and skinned up the ridge to the summit of Jicarita.
Amy nearing summit of JicaritaAmy (SP user Nice Axe!) nearing the summit of Jicarita.

Truchas group from JicaritaTruchas group from Jicarita.

The east-facing bowl beneath Jicarita was pretty melted out, so we decided to head back the way we came and ski the bowl beneath S. Jicarita.

Ski descent

After snacking on the summit and enjoying the views, we skied down the SE ridge toward the saddle between Jicarita and S. Jicarita.
Scott skiing below JicaritaScott skiing the ridge.

Once we got to the saddle, we took the skis off and had to hike a ways back to the top of the first bowl.
There s snow around here somewhereAmy hiking on the summit plateau of S. Jicarita.

Amy dropping inAmy dropping in.

Scott dropping inScott dropping in.

East bowl beneath PT 12828The line we skied (center of photo).

From here, we skied into the trees and down the Rito Angostura drainage, getting some more fun turns in the trees.

Dude, where's my car?

We paid for those fun turns in the trees, as we ended up a bit low. We skied/traversed across the steep NE facing slope and eventually we hit the irrigation ditch and crossed it. However, my GPS was reading alarmingly low, and luckily I had marked our parking spot with a waypoint that morning. We thrashed through the woods on skis for awhile. It was easier for me on tele; poor Amy was on AT and had to keep releasing and locking down. Finally, we shouldered the skis and hiked/postholed, following the arrow on my GPS. When we finally reached the car, we came from a completely unexpected direction. It's a good thing I set a waypoint; otherwise we'd still be out there.

External Links

Northern New Mexico Avalanche Exchange


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-5 of 5
Nice Axe!

Nice Axe! - Sep 16, 2008 11:45 pm - Voted 10/10

Turns too many

Great write up and a fun adventure. I do seem to recall a few extra sweet turns on the descent. Can ya blame us? :-) Thank goodness for waypoints!


tayloe - Sep 21, 2008 9:16 am - Hasn't voted

Great shots

Awesome! Good to see someone giving 'Jic' some love.


scotthsu - Sep 21, 2008 10:46 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Great shots

Thanks for the comment. We were excited to check out Jicarita for the first time!


aggiegeog - Apr 2, 2009 4:14 pm - Voted 9/10

Too Much Snow

As you probably would expect when me and a friend attempted the mountain a week later we could not get through the snow by hiking. It snowed on us as we left out of the cabin at 9000ft even, accumulating a few inches at 9000ft. Plan on trying at end of May this year.


scotthsu - Apr 3, 2009 9:40 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Too Much Snow

Thanks for the vote and comment. Unless we get some more major spring storms, I expect the snowpack to melt out sooner this year compared to last year, so late May should probably work out well for you.

Viewing: 1-5 of 5