Kachina Peak: Skiing its SE Bowl

Kachina Peak: Skiing its SE Bowl

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 36.56150°N / 105.446°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: May 9, 2008
Activities Activities: Mountaineering, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring


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.

Trailhead information

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 Kachina Peak
Scott skinning up Main Street on Kachina Peak.

Scott skiing SE slope of Kachina Peak
Scott skiing the SE slope of Kachina Peak (UN 12819 & NE facing couloir in left/center background, respectively).

Andy skiing backside of Kachina
Andy skiing the SE slope of Kachina Peak.

SE slope of Kachina
Looking back at the SE slope of Kachina.

Andy climbing for more turns
Andy snow-climbing up the NE facing couloir in the bowl behind Kachina.

A sweet line
Looking down the NE facing couloir, our second run.

Andy nearing the ridge
Andy nearing the top.

East ridge of Lake Fork Peak
Looking south to east ridge of Lake Fork and UN 12819.

Nina enjoying a spring day
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 Links

Northern New Mexico Avalanche Exchange
Taos Ski Valley


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