Taos Ski Valley is in the final stages of crafting a new Master Development Plan which will guide improvements at the ski area over the next decade. The big news is the resort seeks to build a second gondola from the Resort Center to Kachina Basin, which would spin in both winter and summer and relieve pressure off Lifts 1 and 2. “This is probably the number one request we’ve received,” said Director of Operations John Kelly at a public forum last week. He called the gondola a “better and more efficient way to move people between the main base area to the backside and Kachina Basin.” This signature lift would span approximately 7,200 feet with a vertical rise around 850 feet. Capacity and cabin size have not yet determined but the gondola would accommodate bikes and improve access to summer operations surrounding Lift 4.
Taos also intends to replace six existing lifts. “We’ve made some really great strides in the last couple years replacing the old Strawberry Hill lifts, Lift 1 and adding Kachina Peak but the remainder of our lifts are pushing 30 to 40 years old,” said Kelly. “We have an incredible lift maintenance team that will keep these lifts going safely as long as we need but at some point we need to upgrade to new infrastructure, technology and faster uphill capacity.” Top priorities are the aforementioned Lifts 2 and 4, both early ’90s Poma fixed quads with long ride times. Later in the decade, Taos looks to address Lifts 7 and 7A, the last two remaining Stadeli machines on the hill. Taos will also consider replacing Lifts 8 and Pioneer (to accommodate the gondola and improve the layout for beginners.) New lifts will utilize a mix of fixed and detachable technology. One project from the 2010 master plan which will no longer proceed is the Ridge lift, proposed for West Basin near Lift 8. Taos would like to keep current hike-to ridge access as is.
Unlike many mountains releasing new master plans these days, Taos does not want to expand its permit area or grow skier visits. “Being surrounded by wilderness is a competitive advantage for our resort,” said Kelly. In fact, the new plan is designed to comfortably accommodate 280,000 to 300,000 annual skiers, down from around 350,000 the resort attracted in the mid-1990s. The resort does seek to expand summer visitation, which will focus on natural activities such as hiking, via ferrata and mountain biking rather than coasters or zip lines. “We really think nature-based recreation is what’s best for Taos and supports our better, not bigger philosophy,” noted Kelly.
Comments may be sent to MDPFeedback@skitaos.com before the plan heads to the Forest Service in a few weeks. Once the final plan is accepted, individual projects will still be subject to environmental review and public comment periods before being implemented.
So I’m guessing the fixed grip quads would all become high speed quads, while lift 7 becomes a quad (maybe detachable) and lift 7A becomes a triple or fixed grip quad.
Those of us who live in northern NM have been hearing that TSV will replace lift 7 with a fixed grip, possibly reusing parts of lift 4 when they replace that lift with a HSQ. As for lift 7A, there’s talk that they might keep it “as is” unless it suffers an unrepairable breakdown.
As for the fixed grip quads, lift 4 will likely be the next lift replaced by a HSQ. Lift 2 will probably be a couple years after that, with lift 8 being replaced a few years after lift 2. Lift 8 sees the fewest amount of skiers of all the quad lifts at TSV, so replacing it is low on the priority list.
The gondola out of the main base looks awesome! Taos could really use a second way up the hill from the main base, and there are plenty of advantages to having both bases connected with a lift. My one complaint with the plan is that I wish they chose to realign lift 7 and combine it with 7a. Given that beginners can use Honeysuckle to get down from the top, I really do not understand why they are two separate lifts.
Also, it is curious to see that they plan on remaining at 280k-300k skier visits. They do not have the size to ever be able to accommodate 500k+, but the resort is still the best in NM and growing in terms of name recognition by being attached to Ikon. Plus, if the base is ever fully fleshed out, there will be more beds at the base of the hill. Growth in the summer makes sense given their proximity to the town of Taos and its popularity in that season, but I do not believe it has to come at the expense of growth in the winter.
TSV can’t build much more in the base area due to space constraints (surrounded by FS land that’s designated wilderness). The current owners don’t want to turn the base into another Vail or Whistler; they want to keep the parts of TSV culture that make it such a special place while updating the facilities. Many skiers also stay down in Taos and carpool/take the shuttle up to TSV.
TSV’s summer growth will only help, not hurt their winter operations. The gondola will be very helpful for people staying at the Bavarian (bottom of lift 4), along with providing easier access to TSV’s summer offerings (mountain biking, Via Ferrata).
Because of the topography, lift 7 can’t be combined with lift 7A. Lift 7A is a return lift, primarily used for lapping the Ridge; beginners only take it if they’re trying to get over to lift 2 or 8. Lift 7 is used by those skiers lapping the terrain park and skiers who skied off the Ridge from Billy Sol to She Gone/Z Chute. The top part of Honeysuckle is a cat-track and doesn’t open up until right before the top of lift 7; beginners rarely take lift 7A to ski down Honeysuckle.
Leave lift 7 alone, damnit! It’s just fine the way it is.
Heck yeah! Almost all these improvements will be amazing! I was thinking earlier that a base to base gondola would be great, especially for summer operations. They could expand mountain biking to lift 4 and do more in the Kachina Basin. The only one I’m not a fan of is replacing lift 7a, since that’s a cool old lift that doesn’t really require replacement.
I don’t understand the idea behind spending big buck on a lift that doesn’t really serve any runs. Seems like it will just make Taos more expensive. If they really need the lift to deal with the morning rush, why not make the lift go somewhere you can ski down from like the to the top of lift 2.
The gondola will provide access for nonskiers and beginners a way to access Kachina Basin Lodge and the Bavarian Restaurant. This will help relieve traffic up and down Twining Road which requires lots of maintenance and sometimes is a logistics issue during major snow cycles due to snow drifting and avalanches.
The parking up at Kachina Basin is limited as well. This plan, 100 percent makes sense.
I’m in vote of keeping 7a as well. It’s my favorite ridge hiker chair and slow enough to watch others rip lines down Highline.
With global warming and population growth, none of this will matter in 10 years.
Two things can be true: Global warming and overpopulation represent existential threats to the health of the planet. Also, this is an awful, alarmist take that will beclown you in 10 years.
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Even with zero emissions from man made stuff, there would STILL be global warming. And there wouldn’t be anything anyone could do about it.