A Record-Breaking Day

I want to thank everyone who joined us on the mountain today. We had all 5 lifts and 30 trails open – the most terrain we’ve ever opened in any November – and today, November 28, 2014, we saw record-breaking attendance. Not just for November: this was the single-biggest day in our resort’s 63-year history.

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This is what our mountain looked like on Thanksgiving Day. We were a little busier today.

I talked to many of you in the lift line today. The lines were long at times, but we all agreed: ours was the best lift line in New Mexico.

Sipapu prides itself on its lack of lift lines, but there are a handful of times – like today, and possibly again tomorrow – when we’re busy. Here are my best suggestions for avoiding Sipapu’s lines:

Come early. Our ticket office and ski school desk open at 8:00, and you can beat the crowds (not to mention increase your chances of snagging the first chair) by arriving shortly after these doors open. I suggest getting your tickets, rentals and ski school lessons early and then enjoying a breakfast burrito while you wait for the lifts to start turning.

Plan ahead. If you know exactly what lift tickets, what lessons, what rentals you need, we’ll zip you through the line much faster.

Pack a lunch. We always want our guests to visit the Riverside Café for a meal, although on busy days like today, it might be the perfect time to brown-bag it.

If you just want a SipaBurger, come early. Our restaurant is the busiest starting around 12:30. If you can grab an early (or late) lunch at the Riverside Café, you’ll spend more time on the mountain and less time in a restaurant line.

A few ways we’re adjusting our operations for crowds: In addition to bringing more staff on these busier days, we will also add additional parking starting tomorrow. We’re also in the process of getting lift scanners, which means that soon our passholders will skip the ticket window and go straight to the lifts. We’re also building yurts for our base area to provide additional seating (for those of you who don’t know, a fire last summer wiped out our patio restaurant, Paradise, as well as part of our Day Room. We are making these yurts available while we determine how to overhaul our base area.)

Know that our staff is working hard on these days to move you through the line quickly. When you see them tomorrow – or the next time you’re at our mountain – be sure to tell them thanks. A lot of them were bumping lifts, slinging drinks, printing lift tickets and fitting rentals while their families and friends were sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal yesterday. We are grateful for our hard-working staff and know you are, too.

We will continue to operate all five lifts this weekend, and we will keep our 30 trails open – and maybe even a couple more. Thanks again for being a part of this historic day!

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At the top of Lift #1. Photographed November 27, 2014.

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More (Ridiculous) Terrain Opening

It's 4:28 and the snowguns are still going. While we always want to avoid closing part of our mountain, the decision to make snow on Midway is proving to be a good one. Temperatures and humidity stayed just right all day, and we'll keep the guns going tonight and part of tomorrow. Our plan is to push out the piles tomorrow night and be ready to open this terrain starting Thursday.

When we weren't making snow, we were sidestepping Oops, Flower, No Caboose and Butterfly. I was able to take a few turns on these runs, and I have to tell you: these were the best runs I've had in at least two years. The snow is ridiculous - I had to keep reminding myself that we're still in November, not January. It really looks like winter around here.

I also had a chance to ski what I'm calling "Gamble Glades." This is a swath of our tree skiing on Gamble Trees, and over the summer we spent considerable time thinning out this run. Sipapu is known for its tree skiing, and our intention was to create a run that would be ideal for those who want to try or improve their skills on gladed terrain. It took a lot of planning and a lot of hard work - and it skied really well. I can't wait to open this trail.

Our plan is to open Lift #3 and Lift #4 on a half day rotation starting Thursday (Lift #4 will be open in the morning, and Lift #3 will be open in the afternoon). We're gunning to have Razmataz, Jimmy Pop, Smart Chicken, "Gamble Glades," No Caboose, Worm and Upper Chopos open. We'll also have all of the trails around Lift #3 open, including Brandy, Candy, Playground and Flight School (Playground and Flight School typically house our organic parks. These parks are not yet open, but the terrain around them will be).

Starting this Monday, December 1, our Patrol will begin working on Jip and Josh Chutes, Indecision and Reasonable Anxiety. Our intention will be to have these runs - and possibly more - ready by the time daily operations begin, on Friday, December 5.

One final note: our assistant mountain manager, Chris Bell, made an excellent point on our Facebook page today that's worth repeating:
This is a good time to remind people that we don't close runs to keep them out of the prime powder. We do it for the safety of our guests. In an area where snowaking is going on, there are high voltage wires powering our snow guns hidden under the snow as well as water lines that are very expensive and easily sliced by the edge of a ski or snowboard. Even if you don't see snowmaking on a closed trail, it could lead into a snowmaking area. Please stay out of the closed areas, and if you see snowmaking hose laying along the side of a trail, please try not to slide over it. Thanks!

Photographed Tuesday, November 25, 2014.

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Mountain Update

The last couple of days have been pretty impressive around here. When we looked at our weather forecast on Saturday afternoon, we expected high winds and maybe an inch or two of snow. What we got, instead, was 13" of powder and the most snow in the nation this morning. We were strategically positioned in what Wunderground called a "stationary band of snowfall" - something I have never seen before (I even took a screen shot of the weather report) - which resulted in some incredible, heavy snow.

This storm has been followed by some unbelievably cold temperatures. Tonight, temperatures are expected to go well below zero, which is ideal for snowmaking. As many of you know, while we've been hammered over the last 10 days with natural snow (nearly 3 feet of it!), the days and weeks leading up to this winter season were unseasonably warm. Our snowmaking efforts allowed us to open our beginner lifts. We were fortunate enough that Mother Nature kicked in enough snow for us to open Lift #1 and additional terrain.

In its essence, our snowmaking strategy is simple: make enough snow before the lifts open to ensure we ensure we have sufficient coverage that will last us throughout the season. However, the warm temperatures forced us to modify our normal strategey: we couldn't make a lot of snow before we opened. And while the natural snow has been amazing, we need more to guarantee not only the longest ski season in New Mexico, but also ensure we'll be skiing holidays, weekends, and everything in between.

So tonight, as our temperatures continue to fall (it's already around six degrees right now and dropping), we're making snow - and we'll continue to make snow all day tomorrow and Wednesday. What this means for our guests is that part of our mountain will be closed over the next couple of days, especially Midway and the trails that access this. Midway is a name you'll never see on a trail map, and it's the term we use to reference the last turn of Sassafras, from just past the entrance of Lower Loose Caboose to until the end (or thereabouts) to Lower Rufous. Click here for a trail map. This part of our mountain is a high traffic area and it's essential we have a decent snowpack now to ensure we're still skiing it through Spring. Over the next couple of days, the lower east side of the mountain will be closed, and there will be no beginner route from top to bottom until Wednesday or Thursday.

You might be wondering why we would do this now. Why, in light of so much snow, especially over the last 48  hours? The answer is simple: we have near perfect conditions right now for making snow. Given the lack of those temperatures leading up to today (not to mention the warm temperatures forecasted the rest of this week), we're going to strike while the iron is hot (or, in this case, freezing cold) and make snow while we can. We have nearly half of our fleet positioned on Midway, and we'll be making and pushing snow just as quickly as we can so we can re-open this part of our mountain and the surrounding terrain. Again, our expectation is that this part of the mountain will re-open by Wednesday or Thursday.

We'll keep you updated on our progress on this blog. If you have any questions about this project - or any other mountain project - feel free to post that feedback here.

Thanks again, everyone, for your support.

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Over a Foot of Snow

The snow started at 10 a.m. yesterday, and it never really quit until early this morning. The result: at 3 a.m. this morning, we cleared 13" off the snow stake.

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UPDATE: as of 6:15 this morning, Sipapu is reporting the most snowfall in the country! Courtesy of onthesnow.com

For the month of November, we've picked up 31" of snow - that's nearly 3 feet in 9 nine days. This makes for one of the snowiest Novembers in over a decade. (In case you were wondering: we saw 30.5" of snow November 2004. That year, we had 239 inches of snow for the season. We like the trend here.)


Like you, we're now looking at what will open next. Our ski patrollers and mountain staff are working overtime to keep up with this snow and track pack those areas that we cannot groom. While our entire mountain looks incredible today, it's essential we pack it down. Why? Creating a solid base of packed snow will ensure we're skiing that trail all season long. Like you, we are thrilled about this snowfall and we're eager to open more lifts and more terrain.

Interested in helping us open more runs? Here are two ways you can help out: if you're interested in being on our mountain crew for a day, help us track pack. You're literally sidestepping up the trail - it's a great workout and your skis get to hit that trail before anyone else's. Look for me if you're interested in helping out this way - I'd be happy to comp you a lift ticket in exchange. A second way you can help us out is by not jumping ropes and skiing closed runs.

We're gunning to open Lift 3 and possibly Lift 4 sometime this week. We've never opened every lift and every trail for the month of November. We'd like to say we did that in 2014.

Sipapu is open everyday this week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and today is a powder day!

Have fun out there, everyone.


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