Snow Trax #4, 2002

The Ridge, Taos Sky Valley
Taos Sky Valley

by Daniel Gibson

This column on snow sports and related travel is posted bi-weekly. In addition to New Mexico, it covers the Southern Rockies of Colorado and occasionally roams further afield in the Western United States.

Learn at 10,300’ with the Silverton Outdoor Learning and Recreation Center

The region's newest snow sports area--Silverton Mountain Ski Area just in the San Juan Mountains north of Durango, Colorado-has announced an interesting series of educational workshops for winter outdoor enthusiasts. Its Silverton Outdoor Learning and Recreation Center (SOLRC) will present courses wilderness first aid, adventure writing, avalanche awareness, snow photography, mountain rituals and an introduction to rescue dog training.

The area is scheduled to open on a limited basis this season (open only to guided outings, 20 people per day maximum, $99 per person), most likely in mid to late January.

This is SOLRC's second season providing field courses for small groups of participants. Jen Ader, Educational Coordinator, explains, "We strive to provide a fun educational experience in a hands-on learning environment. We have courses for the talented skier/snowboarder and for people who have never been and don't want to ever go downhill on a ski slope."

Here is a list of upcoming courses:

Feb. 9, Feb. 23, March 9: Avalanche Awareness--Designed for the snow enthusiast, those who know how to ski advanced terrain but don't feel comfortable in the backcountry. Instructor: Silverton Mountain Snow Safety Staff. Price: $115 (includes guided skiing off the chairlift).

Jan. 26: World Renewal Ritual in the Mountains--An afternoon course led by Dolores LaChapelle, renowned author of Earth Festival, Deep Powder Snow and Sacred Land Sacred Sex, focusing on harmonizing our lives and relationship with the earth, sun, sky, and water. Price: $75.

Jan. 26: Intro to Avalanche Dog Training--An introductory course for owners and their dogs in avalanche rescue. Dogs should be friendly and ready to play. Instructor: Stefan Berkel. Price:

Feb. 2-4: Winter Backcountry Skills--A three-day course for individuals interested in learning about winter camping, including a two-day/one night excursion. Instructor: Steve Crosby. Price:

Feb. 22-24: Adventure Journalism 101–What it takes to write or shoot for the top adventure sports magazines, led by the Senior Editor of Skiing Magazine, Tom Bie, and Senior Contributor to Powder Magazine, Tom Winter. Price: $145 (tuition only); $ 225 (with day of guided skiing on advanced terrain ).
April 27-28: Sisters in the Steeps--Woman specific ski/snowboard program operating on 100% advanced and natural terrain. The class focuses on avalanche instruction and overcoming intimidation presented by steep ungroomed terrain and variable conditions. Instructors: Leslie Ross and Jen Ader. Price: $180.

Classes already offered (but possibly subject to rescheduling due to lack of early snow): Outdoor Advanced Teaching Skills for Educators and Guides; Snow Photography; Snow Cave Building

Details: Phone: (970) 387-5706;


Expert skiers might want to make plans now to join the 6th annual Ben Meyers Ridge-A-Thon at Taos Ski Valley March 29-30. The event is a fundraiser, with participants securing pledges per run skied off Taos’ infamous hike-to “Ridge.” Nice prizes for all entries, and extreme bragging rights to the winning 2-person team.

Angel Fire hosts its infamous 28th annual World Shovel Races Feb. 1-3. Watch folks with questionable mental prowess roar down the slopes at speeds surpassing 60 mph on contraptions resembling snow sharks and beds, as well as competitors in the “standard shovel” division. Ouch!

Red River is party central Feb. 7-12 when Mardis Gras in the Mountains rolls into town with parades, special dances, fun races and general madness on and off the slopes. The final days includes the Sobe/Capo’s Big Air Contest. Who is mas macho? On Jan. 26, turn out for the Kid’s Flashlight Parade.

Durango Mountain Resort and the town of Durango likewise light up Jan. 30-Feb. 3 with their annual bash, Snowdown, with races, parades, music events and much more.

Skinny skiers should point their tips toward Crested Butte Jan. 27-Feb. 2 for the town’s annual Nordic Ski Festival, with a bonfire dinner, free lessons, advanced clinics, ski tours, a snow sculpture contest, kid’s activities, and a major race on Feb. 2. Details: 970/349-1707. On Jan. 29-Feb. 3, the resort hosts the 8th annual Country in the Rockies benefit event, when major country stars come to sing, ski and mingle with fans. Details: www.countryintherockies.

Resort Contact Information & Seasonal Schedule

Angel Fire: 800/633-7463 or, open Dec. 14 through March 24; Crested Butte: 888/463-6714 or, open Dec. 15 through April 15; Durango Mt. Resort: 800/982-6103 or, open through April 7; Enchanted Forest (XC): 800/966-9381 or, open; Monarch: 800/228-7943 or, open; Pajarito Mountain:505/662-5725 or, opening as soon as possible; Red River: 505/754-2223 or, open fulltime Dec. 14 through March 24; Sandia Peak: 505/242-9133 or, scheduled season Dec. 14 through March 17; Ski Rio: 505/758-7707 or; Ski Santa Fe: 505/982-4429 or, scheduled season Dec. 8 through April 7; Sipapu: 505/587-2240 or, scheduled season Dec. 13 through early April; Ski Apache: 505/336-4356 or, open through March 31; Taos Ski Valley: 505/776-2291 or, scheduled season Dec. 14 through April 7; Telluride: 866/287-5016 or, open through April 7; Wolf Creek: 800/754-9653 or open through April 7.

Contact Ski N.M. at 505/984-0606 or for reports on New Mexico ski areas and to order a free winter trip guide; Colorado Ski Country at 303/825-SNOW or for Colorado reports; or individual areas: Angel Fire--800/633-7463 x 3; Crested Butte--888/TO POWDER; Durango Mt. Resort: 800/525-0892, ext. 6; Enchanted Forest (XC)-800/966-9381; Monarch--800/228-7943; Pajarito--888/662-7669; Red River--505/754-2220; Sandia Peak--505/857-8977; Ski Santa Fe--505/983-9155; Sipapu--505/587-2240; Ski Apache--505/257-9001; Taos Ski Valley--505/776-2916; Telluride--970/728-7425; Wolf Creek--800/754-9653.

Daniel Gibson of Santa Fe ( is the author of four books, most recently Pueblos of the Rio Grande: A Visitors Guide (Rio Nuevo Publishers). His first day on "sliders" was 40 years ago.

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