The snow has come to Santa Fe, and we are delighted!
Fresh Snow Beckons!
Ski Santa Fe opened on November 27th, a little later than the hoped-for, but with real snow, no one is complaining. As of today, 30% of the ski area is open, with a 20″ base, and driving conditions up to the ski area are fine. Currently, the price of lift tickets has been lowered, but of course, that can and probably will change, as more terrain is available to ski.
Adult All Day: $95 and Adult All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $30
Teen All Day: $75 and Teen All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $25
Child All Day: $65 and Child All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $20
Senior All Day: $75 and Senior All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $20
Active Duty Military All Day: $78
Half-Day: $75 Beginner Lift Only: $42
And there’s a webcam too, if you want to see the mountain first!
In terms of rental equipment, you can stop on Hyde Park Road on the way to the ski basin and check out Cottam’s. In town, Alpine Sports is conveniently located at 541 Cordova Road. And Ski Tech Santa Fe is an easy in and out on St. Francis Drive, just north of Cerrillos Road.
Snow Makes a Sunset Dramatic!
Skiers with a yen for more dramatic conditions can head to Taos Ski Valley, about 2 hours north of Santa Fe, and rentals are available right there. Taos is open to the top of the mountain, with a base of 18″. And if your ski vacation is planned for after the new year, think about timing your visit so that you can enjoy the Taos Winter Wine Festival!
Cuddle Up by a Kiva Fireplace
A Gray Jay enjoying the view from Raven’s Ridge
The other weekend, I just had to get out for some exercise. Since my thoughts lately have been occupied planning some hikes up in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado next summer, I decided to head up to Ski Santa Fe and get a good workout on Raven’s Ridge. Raven’s Ridge is the spur of the Santa Fe Range that divides the Tesuque watershed from the headwaters of Nambe Creek. It is the northern boundary of the Aspen Basin, which we enjoy seeing from Santa Fe nearly every day.
I put on my layers, made a thermos of my favorite tea – Formosa Oolong No. 8 from Adagio Teas, grabbed a breakfast burrito from La Montanita Co-op, and headed up the mountain.
On a clear and sunny day, the ordinarily somber spruce forests above 10,000 feet in elevation glow with an inner light. Fragrant and refreshing, they always remind me of Christmas and the holidays.
Looking up into towering Englemann Spruce on the Winsor Trail
There simply isn’t anything nicer than walking through these snow forests on a calm and sunny late morning, taking in the pure air and radiant light.
Packed snow on the Winsor Trail above Ski Santa Fe
The section of the Winsor Trail from the parking area of Ski Santa Fe up to the saddle on Raven’s Ridge is always a bit of a test – sort of the dues you have to pay to gain entrance to the Nambe Creek watershed and the peaks beyond. You gain over 800 feet in less than a mile, and since the trailhead is already at 10,200 feet elevation, you generally have to make some stops to catch your breath. I was huffing and puffing like a steam locomotive on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.
Soon enough, the trail levels out, and you reach the saddle on the flank of Aspen Peak, which marks the boundary of the vast and beautiful Pecos Wilderness.
The sign at the entrance to the Pecos Wilderness along the Winsor Trail
It’s at this gateway that you leave the Winsor Trail and turn right to follow the fence line along an informal trail that follows Raven’s Ridge through the trees. The climb is a little gentler than the switchbacks of the Winsor Trail, but there are a few more places where you’ll have to pause for breath. And there are no views to speak of – until you reach 11,200 feet and the tie-off point of the fence.
The headwaters of Nambe Creek from Raven’s Ridge
Perched on ancient gneiss above the glacial canyon that holds Nambe Lake, you’ll feel like you’re soaring in a glorious Rocky Mountain High. To your right is Lake Peak, a mountain horn that carries Ski Santa Fe on its west flank and the headwaters of the Santa Fe River on its south.
By the way, if you are in the mood for some real adventure, my friend Mar’ Himmerich of Celestial Guides (email@example.com) will be happy to take you skiing up there.
To your left is the bold massif of Santa Fe Baldy, the highest peak near Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Baldy 12,622 feet high
Below you is a vertigo-inducing drop with more diagonals and verticals than a vintage Italian travel poster.
It’s a perfect place to stop for a well-deserved break. And as often happens up here in the alpine realm, with a soft fluttering, a flash of grey, and maybe a gentle whistle, you might have guests for tea.
Care to share that Clif Bar with me?
This is the Grey Jay, or Whiskey-Jack, the notorious camp robber who will eat out of your hand (or snatch food from it while you’re not looking). A pair of these birds kept an eye on me the entire time I ate my snack.
After a blissful time taking in the view and enjoying the sun on my face, I grabbed my daypack and headed back down the trail.
Ski Santa Fe, seen through spruce and aspen along the Winsor Trail
Soon enough, I was back in my car and cruising down NM 475 back to Santa Fe for a rendezvous with Starbucks. It was a Good Day. Come out and see us this winter, and have a good day of your own!
Somebody loves you in Santa Fe!