February 27, 2010

Santa Fe Baldy - East Chutes

I was once asked if there was good backcountry skiing in New Mexico...Well there is actually, you just have to be willing to work for it.  Santa Fe Baldy, which is located at the southern tip of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and is the nineteenth highest ranked peak in New Mexico. It has good east and southeast facing slopes with several interesting steep chutes. Our total roundtrip distance was ~11.1 miles with a total elevation climbed/skied of ~3006'. Our car-to-car time was 9 hours.

Although the approach is approx 6 miles via the windsor trail, the first 2 miles are slightly down hill allowing for quick travel. The majority of elevation gain is saved for the final push. Since Baldy is the areas highest peak, you can bet on winds. Favoring the ridge proper can protect you slightly from the W/NW winds. Beware of the significant cornices which develop along most of the approach ridge.

There are 2 prominent east facing chutes prior to reaching Santa Fe Baldy's summit, each providing approx 1000' vertical, and averaging slope angles at approx 38 degrees. Exiting the basin is quick with little elevation gain.

ski in blue

We skied the left most line in this pic taken from the approach ridge

 

the entrance to our line

Another angle taken from near the summit of Santa Fe Baldy