The Last Weekend

We've had several days of temperatures in the mid- to upper-60s, and while we're enjoying these warmer tempartures, it's been tough on the snow. We've been pushing it for several hours today, and here's how the mountain is shaping up for tomorrow:

We will have the first pitch of Gamble, Sassafrass to Loose Caboose, Loose Caboose to Thumper and Thumper down to Don Diego open. For those familiar with our mountain, you'll know this is our Opening Day route. It seems only fitting that we're closing the season skiing and snowboarding this exact route.

We will also open Paul's Folly and have a small park in the base area with two features, a rainbow rail and a small box.

Even though the route will touch on Sassafrass, let me emphasize that we will not have a top-to-bottom beginner route available this weekend.

But we will be open for New Mexico's final weekend, and we will be skiing and snowboarding - because that's what we love to do around here. We hope you enjoy it with us - it's on the house!

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April is FREE

It's snowing at Sipapu right now. This has us pretty giddy about our re-opening on Saturday and Sunday, so we've decided to up the ante by offering everyone FREE lift tickets this weekend, April 5-6, as well as our closing weekend, April 12-13.

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The base area from earlier this morning. 2" reported as of noon.

We were just on the mountain checking out the conditions, and the snow is holding up pretty well. Here are the lifts and runs we expect to open. As always, please be sure to check our snow report for final openings.

Lifts
Lift #1
Lift #2

Trails
Sassafrass
Bambi
Lower Bambi
Practice Slope
Gamble
Loose Caboose
Thumper
Paul's Folly
Rufous
Don Diego
Butterfly
Lower Rolling Rock

Terrain Park
Don Diego - we will need to pull out a few features, so it will be modified over last week. Stay tuned to learn how this park will change.

We also hope to have our ski school area magic lift operating, although we will make that decision on Saturday.

It has been a fun winter, and we're excited to be making turns April 5-6, and again as New Mexico's ONLY ski area scheduled to be open on April 12-13.

What's more is that you're going to do it all for FREE. It's another small way we like to say thanks for another fantastic ski and snowboard season.

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The Snow Castle

Ever since Sipapu started making snow (roughly 25 years ago), we have been making a snow castle. The reason for the castle is two-fold:

1. We make snow in February to "bank" it for March. When the snow is one big heap, it stays cold and preserved. That way, when the spring temperatures warm up, we have snow available to push out in the base area.

2. A less practical reason, but a lot more fun: we love a good reason to throw a party, dress up and celebrate. A snow castle is a great excuse for all of that!

We made the snow for the snow castle last month and, if you visited us anytime from mid-January until the first week of February, you've actually skied/snowboarded on snow castle snow. Historically, we typically make that big pile the week before February Fun Fest, Sipapu's annual President's Day Weekend festival, but thanks to some improved efficiencies in our snowmaking system, we were able to make it a few weeks ago.

The below photos show a visual timeline of how we make the castle. At any given time, we'll have 1-5 staff members working on the snow, and we estimate it takes about 125 hours to build it. No two years are ever alike in design, and we always create the castle with kids in mind: we want to make it as FUN as possible for them. The guys who work on the castle - groomers, ski patrollers, terrain park crews, you name it - get to use a lot of creativity in this process. Call them snow castle craftsmen!

This year's creation is about 5,000 square feet and about 2 stories tall. We've made a couple of tunnels - including our biggest one yet! - and at least 5 slides. There are also five levels to the castle and each level has a platform that includes areas for kids to play. There are also countless steps, so moms and dads can bank on some worn-out kids! We'll drop the ropes on the castle at 9 a.m. tomorrow!

feb8
A blank canvas. We gathered this snow on Saturday night, Feb. 8.


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The snow pile on Feb. 9. We allow the big pile to cure for 24 hours before we start carving.


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On Monday, Feb. 10, we started carving. We always start at the top and work our way down.


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Progress as of Feb. 11. We use chainsaws (Stihl 046 Bar 36 for all you connoisseurs out there) to carve.


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Progress as of Feb. 12. We love creating spots for kids to discover and play.


feb13
Nearly complete. The castle as of Feb. 13 - we will spend today smoothing out the snow and getting it ready for tomorrow!


Depending on snow conditions, we typically leave the castle up until early March.

Temperatures have been fairly warm this week, although a warm spell is pretty common for our ski area this time of year. While we are always eager for snow, the bluebird days are the best times to come out, bring your kids and enjoy these warm temperatures.

We'll see you on the castle this weekend!

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All Man-Made Parks Open

This morning, we opened Pedro's Park, our beginner terrain park, located on Bambi and just beyond Thumper. This park includes four features, a jump and a rainbow, and a jump with a box. Like with our big terrain park, Don Diego, we looked at last year's beginner park and adjusted last year's layout based on what we saw people using most. The most popular feature last season, by far, was the jump we created, so this year, instead of one jump, you get two. Pedro's Park is a little more advanced than last year, but it's still a solid beginner park - perfect to practice on before hitting Don Diego.

Speaking of, we've had a lot of really great feedback on the new Don Diego park, and I will tell you: it is one beautiful park. If you missed last weekend's King/Queen of the Hill Terrain Park compeition, you missed one of the best park comps we've ever had on our mountain. A very special thank you to NM(X) Sports and all of the workers at this event. Here's a short video featuring the Don Diego Park and even some of the skibike demos from the 2014 SkiBikeFun SkiBike Festival.

About a dozen of our instructors - including me and our general manager, Gary Forrest - have participated in the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) training over the last couple of days. During these 16 hours, the PSIA instructor (who hails from Aspen) is sharing his best practices with us on how we can be better instructors for our students. We recognize that many of our guests are on a budget and are skiing with us for a short period of time. We, as instructors, want to make sure that they are learning as much as they can so they can enjoy not only our hill this visit, but also terrain for future visits, wherever they ski or snowboard. Think of this as as instruction for instructors. It's an important piece of our resort, and one I am proud to be a part of.

psia
Mountain manager John Paul (green jacket) and general manager Gary Forrest (brown jacket) participate in the PSIA clinic at Sipapu.

Yesterday, I skied the trees on No Caboose, and the snow was fantastic. While this wasn't powder skiing, I decided to go into the trees and think of them as moguls, and I had one of the best runs all winter. Because this run is so shaded by the trees, the snow has held up really well. This is one of those runs that doesn't get a lot of traffic, so if you're looking for a quiet, challenging run, give this one a try.

Speaking of powder skiing, here's an interesting fact: our driest January on record was in 2011 when we received 2" of snow for that entire month. Want to guess our 2nd-best (in terms of total snowfall) month *ever*? February 2011. That month, we picked up 56" of snow. It's looking like snow is expected beginning this Friday, January 31, and we could get back-to-back storms next week. We're hoping to beat 2011 this February.

In the meantime, just a quick reminder to please stay in control on the hill. We all love to let 'er rip on these fast groomers, but please watch your speed, especially in our slow zones.

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