Taos Ski Valley to build triple chairlift accessing Kachina Peak for 2014/15 season

Comments by Donny O'Neill/

Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico has announced that it will install a new fixed grip triple chairlift that will provide access to its famed Kachina Peak terrain. Kachina is the crown jewel of the ski area, previously only accessed via a 45 minute hike from the top of the Lift 2. Many locals consider the hike a right of passion within the ski area, and were opposed to the building of a chairlift to the peak, but chairlift access to the top of Kachina was something that founder Ernie Blake had hoped for 50 years ago.

“In many ways this lift is a tribute to Ernie and his legacy,” said Mickey Blake, son of Ernie and current President of Taos Ski Valley.

Press Release, Taos, New Mexico, January 14, 2014:

Taos Ski Valley today announced that beginning in 2014 – 2015 ski season, visitors will be able to access the mountain’s celebrated Kachina Peak via a chairlift for the first time. The Kachina Peak Lift will be installed during the summer of 2014 and will summit at 12,450 feet, making it one of the highest chairlifts in North America. The lift will increase the mountain’s advanced and expert lift-serviced terrain by 50 percent.

The Kachina Peak Lift will serve the iconic Kachina Peak terrain, long recognized as some of the most spectacular in North America, and which has only been accessible via hiking trails. Taos Ski Valley founder Ernie Blake originally envisioned the lift nearly 50 years ago.

“In many ways this lift is a tribute to Ernie and his legacy,” said Mickey Blake, son of Ernie and current President of Taos Ski Valley. Blake recently announced the sale of Taos Ski Valley to conservationist Louis Bacon.

The Kachina Peak Lift will offer access to a variety of terrain, including advanced trails, tree chutes and open bowls. Additionally, skiers and riders will be able to hike from the lift drop-off to the summit of Kachina Peak to enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rocky Mountains.

Taos Ski Valley has also committed to preserving a majority of the hiking terrain that is currently available.

The triple-seated fixed grip lift will rise 1,100 vertical feet in five minutes to a top elevation of 12,450 feet. The additional elevation will give Taos a lift-served vertical drop of more than 3,000 feet.

“It was Ernie Blake’s vision to establish a ski area that was as spectacular as the resorts he knew in Europe with above tree line, wide open terrain and fantastic views,” said Jean Mayer, owner and operator of the Hotel St. Bernard and Technical Director of the Ernie Blake Ski School. “The new Kachina Peak Lift will allow snow sports enthusiasts who come from low altitude to enjoy the total beauty of Taos Ski Valley, while also preserving most of the hiking terrain for those of us who enjoy the climb. This lift will be an important development on Ernie’s goal of building a challenging mountain that can be shared with all.”

By installing lift service to Kachina Peak, Taos Ski Valley will also be able to increase ski patrol in the area and perform more snow control efforts, which will likely result in the terrain being open more often. Skytrac, an American company based in Salt Lake City, will manufacture the lift.

“The Kachina Peak Lift will bring us to the forefront of skiing experiences in North America, providing new access to unparalleled terrain that is uniquely Taos,” said Gordon Briner, Taos Ski Valley Chief Operating Officer.

Related: Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico sold to conservationist Louis Bacon