Andy and I skinned up to the top of Kachina Peak
starting from the base of the Kachina lift (#4) at Taos Ski Valley
and finishing by zig-zagging up the ski run Main Street. We skied down the SE facing slope on the "backside" of Kachina, into "Wilderness Bowl," and bootpacked up a NE facing couloir in the bowl behind Kachina for a second run, and then skied down and back out, joining the Williams Lake Trail near the bottom. The roundtrip distance was ~4 miles with a total vertical climbed of ~3000'. Our total car-to-car time was about 4.75 hours.
To get to the hikers' parking area, take NM State Route 150 to the Taos Ski Valley parking area. From the NE corner of the parking area, find and take Twining Rd (dirt road) for about 2 miles to the hikers' parking lot which will be on the right side of the road after some switchbacks. This dirt road gets fairly steep, but normal passenger cars will be OK as long as the road is snow/ice free. From the parking lot, follow a well-beaten path heading S from the SW corner of the parking lot. Shortly you will pass the Bavarian Restaurant (good German beers/grub although they are generally closed from early April through late May) and come to the bottom of the Kachina chairlift (#4).
Photos of our tour and ski descent
Scott skinning up Main Street on Kachina Peak.
Scott skiing the SE slope of Kachina Peak (UN 12819 & NE facing couloir in left/center background, respectively).
Andy skiing the SE slope of Kachina Peak.
Looking back at the SE slope of Kachina.
Andy snow-climbing up the NE facing couloir in the bowl behind Kachina.
Looking down the NE facing couloir, our second run.
Andy nearing the top.
Looking south to east ridge of Lake Fork and UN 12819.
Nina and Scott exploring before dropping in.
This was a nice mellow spring tour. The SE slope off the backside of Kachina is not overly steep. Due to the aspect, you want to hit it fairly early. We hit it around 10:45AM and it was already soft. The NE facing couloir gets very steep at the top, as you can see from the pictures, and is a more challenging climb/ski. An ice axe or Whippet poles is recommended. We used crampons mostly because we had them with us, but we could have bootpacked. These two runs are a perfect combo as the snow in the NE facing couloir softens up at the right time for a second lap. As always, beacon/shovel/probe and knowledge of their use are essential.
External LinksNorthern New Mexico Avalanche Exchange
Taos Ski Valley
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