With the start of ski season days away, a look at more mountains in the state to slide down - Albuquerque Journal

With the start of ski season days away, a look at more mountains in the state to slide down

Significant efforts to upgrade snowmaking capabilities, like the addition of the high-efficiency Demaclenko snow guns is allowing Ski Santa Fe to produce more and better snow earlier in the season. (Courtesy of Ski Santa Fe)

With New Mexico temperatures continuing to drop, the start of ski season is inching closer.

Here’s a look at the rest of the mountains you can slide down around the Land of Enchantment.

Ski Santa Fe

skisantafe.com

With the Sandia Peak Ski Area shuttered for a second consecutive year, local skiers will have to look north for a quick jaunt to the slopes.

Luckily, Ski Santa Fe has made a concerted push the past several years to boost its snowmaking efforts. And it something that is paying off.

“Essentially, we’ve turned our focus to improving our snowmaking capacity and efficiency for lots of reasons,” said Jack Dant, mountain manager for Ski Santa Fe. “We can’t reliably depend on natural snowfall.”

With snowfall always an iffy proposition, it just made sense, he said.

“To be able to be open early and open on the holidays and get the community out on the slopes and out having winter fun, in order to be able to do that, we have to be able to make enough man-made snow,” he said. “For us to be able to open the lower mountain and base, we need a substantial amount of storage and water, capacity for electricity for piping the water and have enough for snow guns. We needed to be able to it all at once, when the windows of cold weather are here.”

Toward that end, this summer about 6,000 feet of underground secondary power was run, eliminating the need to haul around portable generators, Dant said.

“This greatly increases our efficiency,” he said. “We don’t have to rent generators and get them to the spots and get them to the spots, keep them fueled and monitored. That takes a lot of people power just off the bat. If you can have that focus on other things, you can have more done at the same time.”

Over the past five years, the ski area has bought 22 Demaclenko snow guns, considered the best in the business. “They’re top-of-the-line snow guns that create more snow at a lower energy cost and they’re more efficient with water use, using 18 gallons a minute and really aerating that water to the point where we’re doing with a gun now what you just couldn’t do with a gun, 20-25 years ago,” Dant said. “We’re making snow instead of ice and doing it with less water and less electricity.”

Additionally, the ski area has rights to 23 million gallons of water “and we hope to be able to get that water on the slopes by Dec. 31 and hopefully by Christmas,” he said. “What we’re doing, taking a substance and creating a third use for it, recreation. And we see all sorts of side benefits by getting people into the woods, learning about the environment and getting used to it. It’s great for the community, great for school groups and families and people of different backgrounds.”

Scheduled opening day: Nov. 24.

The slopes will soon be beckoning at Pajarito Mountain near Los Alamos. (Courtesy of Pajarito Mountain)

Pajarito Mountain Ski Area

pajarito.ski

At Pajarito Mountain Ski Area outside of Los Alamos, the focus is on its ability to enhance skiers’ appreciation and skills on the slopes with one of the best local ski schools, said Christiana Hudson, Pajarito marketing director.

Four-week lessons for skiers aged 5-12 run every Saturday morning in February, she said, and a version for skiers 12 and older runs every Saturday afternoon in February.

Scheduled opening day: TBD.

Ski Apache

skiapache.com

Down south, Ruidoso is more of a trek, but Ski Apache offers a type of skiing unique to the sport, said Ken Marlatt, director of operations.

“We have the best warm-weather skiing on earth,” he said. “It’s the furthest south major ski resort, so we have the best warm weather skiing. Because the top of the mountain is 11,600 feet, it still gets cooler at night. The snow firms up.”

That means by afternoon, you can comfortably in a T-shirt, Marlatt said.

“You can’t go anywhere else and get that,” he said.

Additionally, since the base of the mountain is 9,600 feet, it create a significant amount of downhill momentum,” Marlatt said.

Snowmaking on the mountain has been ongoing since September, he said, meaning it should be open and ready for skiers before the holidays hit.

Throw in a speeding zipline that reaches speeds of 60 mph across three spans “and you have a very high-end amusement.”

Scheduled opening day: TBD.

Ski Cloudcroft

skicloudcroft.net

A little farther south at Ski Cloudcroft, fingers are crossed waiting for a good snow dump, said the ski area’s Jessica Beach.

“Last year we were open and it was a really neat time,” she said. “We’re hoping to get into the swing of things and do it all over again.”

Scheduled opening day: TBD.

Home » From the newspaper » With the start of ski season days away, a look at more mountains in the state to slide down


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