Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry
Need to Know
Most of the terrain in and around Taos Ski Valley is Class 2 and 3 avalanche terrain, including this line along the bottom of a series of steep, avalanche prone chutes and drainages west of the village, a short ways down the road from the old mining town Amizette. This terrain is extremely rocky, steep and loose, and the snowpack can be variable, a lot of variable must come together for these lines to be rideable, on a big snow year during times when avalanche potential is low. The chutes along this mountainside can slide into the Rio Hondo and various terrain traps such as gullies and tree wells. Access requires route finding and class 3 climbing skills, only expert alpinists with climbing experience should attempt this line.
Named for the tendency this line has to sluff out during storms from snow falling off the cliffs above, this short but steep chute starts below a cliff band several hundred feet above the highway. The steep slope is avalanche prone especially during Spring when wet slides are moving. Thanks to the line's mid-elevation and low exposure in the canyon, the snowpack is often much thinner here than other zones only a few hundred feet higher. With all these factors considered, if you're an expert rider and know how to balance risks and thrill, this is a fun line.
Parking can be found up or down the road at the Gavilan and Italianos Canyon trailheads. There is no specific defined route up the chute, the easiest and usually best ascent is to cross the stream and bootpack up through the trees along the east side of the chute's runout. Once you're across the stream, the slope steepens immediately. Look for a couple old trees fallen down among the standing old growth, find your way around these and climb beside the side of the chute till you reach a rock outcrop. Contour to the right below and around the outcrop as it develops into a vertical cliff band rising alongside the chute, then up until the chute tops out below a cliff. There's a few possible options to descend, and once you've determined the one you like, drop in, enjoy the ride, and pay attention for moving snow and rocks.
History & Background
This area was prospected and mined during the late 1800s and early 1900s, just around the bend in the road to the northeast is Amizette. Several old mining sites and tailings are strewn about among the ski lodges and rentals that this village now hosts.
Shared By: J. Bella