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We did it!
On Saturday, November 16, we became, once again, the first ski area to open in New Mexico. This year marked an even dozen times we've claimed that title, and I am proud of our entire team for pulling it off. I also want to personally thank everyone who came out that weekend - it was a fun, festive weekend and an incredible start to the winter season. Thanks for making that day a special one for us.
The first chair. These guys snagged the first chair last year, too. They began standing in line at 8:08 a.m. on Saturday.
Our lift line is never this long, which is why we took a photo of it!
The lifts start turning again this Friday, and we'll be open everyday through December 1. We're already getting questions about what we're opening next. Here's the latest:
We opened a small park this weekend, and we were amazed by the number of skiers and snowboarders who came out to jib off everything they could. We'll soon start dedicating some snowmaking and terrain park builders' resources to growing our park.
Opening Day terrain park included two features - we hope to build more soon.
We're also working very hard to get our new lift, the Magic Carpet, open. We've got nearly our entire fleet of snowguns positioned on this portion of the mountain, and we will open it as soon as we can. In addition to getting both the new and our current Magic Carpets open, we're also committed to opening some beginner terrain as quickly as possible.
Between now and Friday morning, we will also be making snow. We had two very productive nights of snowmaking over the last couple of nights where we made snow at the top of Lift #1, at the top pitch of Gamble, around the base area and all over our Practice Slope. The weather forecast is predicting pretty marginal temperatures for snowmaking, although another storm system is making its way to New Mexico - just in time for our re-opening.
One of the new snow piles in the base area.
The snowgun gets a break after a productive night of snowmaking.
What snowmaking looks like from a distance.
So, while we don't have a lot of answers right now, know this: we're working as hard and as fast as we possibly can to open more in time for our Thanksgiving week. Once we finalize new trail, lift and park openings, we'll let you know here.
As we're nearing our Opening Day on Saturday, we've confirmed the opening route. Lift #1 will be open and will serve one intermediate route - which will consist of two complete trails (Loose Caboose and Thumper). We will be opening more terrain soon. We also expect to open a small "warm-up" terrain park with a few park features - all of our terrain park builders are doubling as snowmakers, so they've had their hands full ensuring that we'll have plenty of snow for Opening Day. We'll get them focusing on our terrain park before Saturday, though.
The Opening Day route is highlighted in orange.
We expect to open on an 18" base of manmade snow that is machine groomed. We've pushed snow on the entire route from the top of Loose Caboose all the way to the top of Lift #2, and it's looking really good.
The snowcat on Loose Caboose: taken 11/12/13
We'll have at least two more nights of making snow, maybe four, and then we'll be open for the season!
Snowgun off after another productive night: photo taken 11/12/13
At this point, we will open our magic carpets (both in the teaching area and our new carpet on the Practice Slope) soon, although not for Opening Day. We're gunning to have both carpets going (plus some beginner terrain) by next Friday, November 22 - we'll keep you posted on that. The carpet installation continues to go well: we just put the carpet's belt on yesterday, so it's looking more and more like it's ready to run. We can't wait to get it going!
Our lifts will turn beginning at 9 a.m. on November 16 - lift tickets are $20 for adults (ages 21-59) and $15 for everyone else. We're looking forward to seeing everyone at Sipapu as we open skiing and snowboarding in New Mexico this Saturday!
Thanks to yesterday's snow storm (we picked up 7.5" on the mountain) and the residual frontal system, we were able to make snow on top of our mountain last night. Most nights, cold temperatures settle lower on our mountain and down in the valley, while remaining warmer up top. For this reason, it's often easier for us to make snow down low than it is to make it toward the top of our mountain. So, when we see these fronts move in like this, it keeps temperatures cold up top and we bring the guns as high as we can to get after it. It was a good night of snowmaking, and today we started making snow at 3 p.m. - our earliest start yet. Things are looking good, and we're still making snow tonight. Here are a few pictures from this morning:
Snowmaking above Lift #1
This morning's view from the ski patrol shack, just above Lift #1
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Isa, Sipapu snowmaker and terrain park manager
Our guns were going again last night, and our theme for the upcoming days is Guns On The Move. We've been repositioning our guns in key spots to create more snow piles. The reason is this: imagine being on Thumper, before that slope is covered with snow. When we're making snow, we're hitting the coldest areas on that trail. Once the snow piles get big (we call large piles of snow "whales"), we move the guns to another cold spot on Thumper. The idea is that we'll create as many "dots" or piles of snow as we can so that when we take the snowcats out, we're pushing several moderate "whales" as opposed to just a few huge ones. This helps us make better snow and spend less time in the snowcat pushing it out. We've now got some nice piles in new spots, and we've recently started knocking down those piles in the cat. Things are looking really good, especially from the top of Thumper to the top of the practice slope.
The guns were working early on November 5.
When we are not making snow, we're devoting as many resources as we can to getting our carpet ready. We've got a straight line from top to bottom, and we're now bolting the feet of each section. The ground - thanks to the recent cold temperatures and the new snow - is frozen solid, which is perfect for our snowmakers and less-than-ideal for our lift installation team. Nevertheless, this project is moving along well.
It's been snowing since last night - we've got a few inches in the base area, more on top. Continue to keep an eye on this Forecast as we count down the days until we open. We'll keep you updated here.
Snow at Sipapu - taken November 5, 2013