Much like Y2
Chutes, there's no large cliffs, but the entire line is basically one long terrain trap. Know what you're getting into before going at this line, and make sure your boots and bindings are tight. At the bottom, be careful of small slabs releasing from the steep side slopes above the creek—find a spot to climb up the other side or ride down towards the bottom of Y2
until you see a spot that looks good. Recommended not to continue much further past Y2
because a series of cascading waterfalls begins a short ways down, and the snow is often shallower and unrideable there.
The Y Chutes are a series of steep and fast-running avalanche paths dropping nearly 1,500 vertical feet from treeline down into a significant natural terrain trap in the West Fork of Gavilan Creek—there are no "islands of safety" or exit routes once you drop in to any of these chutes. Safely riding these lines requires intimate knowledge of the snowpack, ability to continuously assess and evaluate conditions, and willingness take and balance the always-present risks with the adventurous experience of riding these harrowing lines.
Access to the ridge above these chutes is tricky with no established route. The easiest is to skin up the Gavilan Trail #60
to the ridge and make the climb to the summit of the unnamed peak 11,849', then continue south down the ridge past the tops of Y3 and the Y2
tributary to a small sub-peak—Y2
proper is to the skier's right of this sub-peak. There are multiple entrances to each chute, and each is like a funnel that starts out wide and narrows into drainage gullies with a general easterly aspect—the right sides are cooler and shadier and the left sides have a more southerly exposure and tend to hold less snow.
The aspectual nature of this terrain coupled with the northern New Mexico weather and temps often leads to variable conditions such as sunbaked crusts on the skier's left side and colder, softer snow on the right—sometimes there is a fine line in the middle of the gully. You could be skiing soft powder on one side and turn slightly across the chute onto hardpacked crust that will grab your boards and drop you faster than a hot lady on a cruise ship.
When temps are cold and powder is abundant, these chutes can provide a thrilling descent, but when avalanche conditions exist or if there is any reason to believe it's not entirely safe, they should be avoided without question. When these chutes slide, they run fast and deposit deep debris into the creek at the bottom—there is little chance of escape should you be caught in a slide here.