WORDS — Devon O’Neil
PHOTOS — Liam Doran
The forecast was promising however obscure. Final March, a gargantuan low-pressure system twirled towards the japanese slopes of the Rockies. The bullseye, consultants stated, was prone to move a couple of miles from my residence in Summit County, Colorado, dumping as much as three toes. However my buddy Johnny’s celebration was scheduled for Taos the identical weekend, 4 hours south. Taos Ski Valley is one in every of my favourite resorts on earth, and Johnny, a longtime native, sounded optimistic in regards to the storm—even when early estimates solely talked about six-to-10 inches. Spring storms within the Sange de Cristo mountains have a behavior of, ahem, over-delivering when circumstances line up. But, regardless of snowboarding there for greater than a decade, I nonetheless had by no means hit it on a deep day. The easy chance of doing so with Johnny and a handful of buddies was sufficient for me to go away the anticipated epicenter and begin driving south the day earlier than the twirl arrived.
A part of the magic of storm chasing is the thriller that comes with it. The lots virtually at all times observe the best forecast complete, for good purpose. Typically I do too, even regionally, usually to my detriment. On this case, my determination had extra to do with terrain and pitch. Snowboarding above then under then above actually deep powder is my favourite feeling within the sport, and the steeper the angle the extra usually you get to really feel it. Therefore: Taos.
I pulled into the Bavarian parking zone early Saturday afternoon, a couple of hours earlier than the storm was to reach. Johnny’s youngsters have been taking part in of their snow cave; he was placing on his boots. The wind was blowing arduous on Kachina Peak, Taos’ 12,481-foot excessive level, however the snow was buffed and chilly, with cream within the concavities. We skied eight runs off the highest then headed to the West Basin and stayed till it closed, frolicking among the many rocks and tubes that make that place next-to-untouchable. Seeing the obstacles that have been about to be buried made me really feel higher in regards to the subsequent day’s powder.
It began snowing round 4:30 within the afternoon and intensified virtually instantly. Inside the hour, our buddy, photographer Liam Doran, had two inches piled up on the brim of his hat. We stood round a fireplace because the sky pummeled and glowed. There will not be many issues in a skier’s life extra attractive than a livid in a single day storm, and this was one step up from my normal, borderline-unhealthy anticipation. After we went to mattress again on the town that evening, I had a tough time falling asleep.
SKIER: Amie Engerbretson
PHOTO: Liam Doran
LOCATION: Taos, NM
The morning report ended up being 15 inches, I believe. I actually can’t bear in mind. 5 vehicles with out-of-state plates spun out whereas heading up the canyon, however Johnny weaved round them in his pickup. As soon as on the mountain, we took a run down Al’s then promptly made our method to the highest of Raise 2, the place we waited for the hike to the Highline Ridge to open. I ended up close to the entrance of the frothing pack and skied a recent line down Hidalgo, astonished at how deep and lightweight it was. I imagined the West Basin could be even higher.
One other fast hike and I stood on the rope. Johnny and I had been separated on Highline. I knew I’d discover him quickly sufficient however, for the second, all I might take into consideration was the gaping barrel of deepness that might be Stauffenberg. The rope dropped. I ducked below a rock band and into Stauffy. The powder was ridiculous. I felt like a submarine. On the backside, I glanced to my proper and noticed one other buddy, Brett, being spit out of Fabian like a surfer at Backdoor. “Devon!” he screamed. I emitted a sound form of like Chewbacca, half-choking on the snow. I’ll always remember that run.
I ultimately met again up with Johnny, and it began puking once more. At 2:30 p.m. we noticed our different buddy, Brett, snowboarding away from Raise 2. Brett had simply obtained a tip that North American, one of many longest runs at Taos, was about to open for the primary time that day. We adopted him down the frontside to the doorway, arriving simply as a patroller dropped the rope.
The storm would ship one other 14 inches that evening, for a complete of 32. It was arduous to drive away, however I needed to get residence—the place, it turned out, the storm skunked.