Off The Beaten Slope

February 8, 2016 | By: Monica Christofferson

It’s not for every skier. It will challenge your stamina mentally, physically and probably even emotionally.  But those who seek it out find it to be a transformative crucible. Some of the most beautiful, rugged terrain and pristine powder can be accessed if you are willing to take the climb.

Hiking is appealing for several reasons. First, the snow is often untouched: soft, downy, powder at its finest. There’s no race to get first-tracks.  Second is the solitude. Not every skier can tackle this kind of terrain so the few who dare are more or less alone in their efforts.  However, hikers have an intrinsic bond; all who attempt earn their right to be there.  Third, the thrill of it.  Climbing to the highest point on the mountain will feel like you’re on top of the world.  Going down will test your skills and push your limits. Every run is an adventure, providing the possibility for discovery and self-reflection.

Angel Fire’s hike access trail can be reached by taking the Southwest Flyer lift to the top. There you’ll hike to the top of the ridge, elevation of 10,800 feet.  These runs are designated for advanced skiers yet are especially great for those who are new to hiking or just getting the hang of it.

For those who are experienced, Taos Ski Valley offers the most hike access in the state with three areas of skiable terrain.  The West Basin features some of the precipitous runs and can be accessed by a short hike from Lift #2.  Highline Ridge, with spectacular vistas and an almost endless supply of powder, can be reached by moderate hike from Lift #2 and #7A.  The mother of all hikes, Kachina Peak, summits at 12,481 feet and once required a grueling 45 minute hike, but the new Kachina Peak Lift takes you there in 5 minutes.  Kachina offers some of the most paramount skiing in North America.

Are you ready to take on the wild side of the mountain? If you’re looking to expand your skills and want as much of a challenge going up and as you get going down, go take a hike.

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