Wanderlust See Taos Ski Valley Through Amie Engerbretson’s Eyes

Skiing with the world-famous professional ski (and country & western dance phenomenon!) Amie Engerbretson at Winterlust 2022 in the Taos Ski Valley. She leads daily free ski sessions that will help you find balance, rhythm and grace on the slopes, and she will have a fireplace chat in support of our official non-profit organization Protect Our Winters about the interface between adventure and impact. Visit us at Winterlust.

Imagine standing on a rugged mountain peak with the tips of your ski hanging over a steep, thick powder snow. The wind kisses your cheeks with snow crystals as you watch the deep red sunset over the vast Taos Desert and the Rio Grande Gorge. You have the feeling of standing at the confluence of two worlds. Under your boots the rugged and snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains and directly below a southwestern fairy tale of red rocks, dust and warm colors. Is this a dream you need to ask yourself? A view like this must be what it takes to become the fantasy land of the inner spirit. No … this is the Taos Ski Valley.

Amie Engerbretson in Taos NM by Liam Doran

The Taos Ski Valley is a true hidden gem. Most people don't think of New Mexico first when they ski. I skied Taos for the first time in 2011 and competed in my very first big mountain competition. I had never been there before, I didn't know anyone and I was a bundle of nerves. I had no idea what to expect and although the details of the competition, no I didn't win, and the memories of the people I partied with that night may have all faded, the memory of a magical one remained Mountain with terrain stick like I had never seen it before. When my friend and photographer Liam Doran called me last winter and asked me to work with him and his ski colleague Sven Brunso for a week in Taos, I said yes without thinking. I've waited almost 10 years to go back.

ernie rhoda blake

Ernie & Rhoda Blake in the Taos Ski Valley

Taos Ski Valley was founded in 1955 by Ernie Blake and his wife Rhoda. The resort has 1,294 acres of skiable terrain and 14 lifts, including the new Kachina Peak lift that takes you to Kachina Peak, which rises 12,481 feet above sea level, and provides access to some of the steepest and roughest inbound terrain in the US offers. When I was here almost a decade ago, this site was only accessible via an hour's return journey. In my opinion Taos has some of the best lift-accessible terrain I've ever found! Yes, Kachina Peak is the crown jewel with steep inclines, tight rocky slides, and technical terrain that is usually smoothed out with buttery smooth, windswept hero snow, but every nook and cranny you find offers a new adventure. The tree skiing is superb. Endless tree runs with perfectly spaced clearings that are steep, and I mean steep. During one run after following Madeline Kelty from Marketing, I literally shouted three times: "I can't believe this run is still going!"

Located on Canyon Road from Taos Ski Valley is the city of Taos, New Mexico. This city is straight out of some southwestern picture book you probably imagined, with art shops, spas, spiritual outposts, and incredible food. The whole area has an aura, a hidden magic. The resort itself is surrounded by holy lands of the Pueblo people. These lands are protected and kept wild. It is impossible not to let the magic and eccentric energy trickle down into your soul. I suppose that's why I wasn't so surprised when I woke up to what appeared to be a 30+ inch miracle storm overnight and was still tipping over.

Amie Engerbretson. Taos NM

Amie Engerbretson in Taos NM, by Liam Doran

It continued to snow for the next two days and we had a good time. There was snow literally up to our eyeballs and we licked the steep trees so fervently that time was completely distorted and melted in my head. What could be nicer than bottomless powder snow, with free refills, on steep, perfectly placed treeruns? The snowfall and lack of people were incredible. These days skiing can seem like being in a herd of cattle and when it's good everyone, literally everyone, is there. Not so much with Taos. The busiest days in Taos bring far fewer skiers than many of the west's great ski resorts, and with the expansive terrain, it feels like you're skiing with just a few of your friends and some friendly locals.

It really felt like a miracle this week in Taos. The sunset, the powder, the terrain, the food and the people. Unlike any other place I've ever visited on my skis. I would like to say that I am lucky to have felt and experienced the magic of the Taos. The truth is, I don't think I'm that special. In Taos, magic touches all those who seek it or try to navigate it.

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Amie Engerbretson is a professional skier and lover of mountains, cats and smiles. The seed of passion for skiing and adventure was planted on the slopes of Palisades Tahoe and evolved into a lifestyle and career that has taken her around the world, featured on many ski media and shared her passions with the world. Hard work and a strong spirit combined with her dedication to her craft have enabled Amie to achieve her dreams while staying in the fast lane with a permanent smile on her face. See her show off her country dance moves (with her dad!) In this short film called "Boots over Brim" recently filmed in Jackson, WY.

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