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Head South for Winter

taos-ski-new-mexicoFirst tracks at Taos in mid-December. Photo by Nick HeilOminous La Niña forecasts earlier this fall sent shivers through New Mexico snow junkies. We haven’t forgotten last year—another La Niña—with its late, late openings and bony steeps.


“Pray for erratic arctic oscillations,” I told friends, borrowing the phrase from some meteorology blogs suggesting that aberrations in the jet stream could send the storm track further south this year (Colorado hogged it last winter).


Well, it appears to be happening. A “weak” La Niña has kicked the southern jet stream down over the Southwest, and states like Arizona and New Mexico (and Texas, but who cares) have been getting clobbered with precip. Arizona Snowbowl, Ski Santa Fe, Wolf Creek, Silverton, and other regional resorts are psyched.


I made my first trip to Taos in mid-December. An early-week storm left a fresh 15 inches on top of a 53-inch base. Though some of the best terrain, like Kachina Peak, isn’t open yet, the mountain is in phenomenal shape for this early in the winter (or, technically, late in the fall), including great riding on choice runs like the Highline Ridge, Al’s, and Longhorn. “Best start to the season in 15 years,” I heard one local enthuse. Here’s hoping we didn’t just jinx it.  —Nick Heil

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