Don Diego Now OPEN

At 1:00 this afternoon, we dropped the ropes on Don Diego: our Don Diego terrain park is now open.

Our largest park on the mountain has 14 features, including six jumps and eight rails/boxes. Up to seven features are placed in a row and could be linked on a single pass through the park. Our features include:

- 18-foot gap with a 10-foot torpedo
- 12-foot long box
- 16-foot gap with a 14-foot flat rail
- 35-foot gap with a 22-foot flat rail
- 20-foot long A-frame box
- 10-foot gap with an 8-foot flat rail
- 10-foot gap with a barrel tap
- 10 foot gap with a 6-foot mini-rainbow rail

We're very proud of this park - we were intentional about bringing back the most popular features from previous seasons while improving those that were underutilized in the past. We're excited to unveil it right before this weekend's King/Queen of the Mountain Terrain Park Comp - happening this Saturday! Cost is $30 and includes lift ticket, entry fee and lunch.

Part of the Don Diego Terrain Park. For more photos of features, please click here.

I also want to personally thank everyone who has sent us - and especially the Bolander family - their sympathies as we mourn Lloyd's loss. The family is planning a special day to celebrate his life, and we hope everyone can join us for that. We will announce that very soon.

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A Legend

This morning, Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort's founder, Lloyd Bolander passed away. Words cannot express the impact this man had on our community, on the tens of thousands of kids he taught to ski, on his staff, on his family - on all of us who were fortunate enough to know him. More information - including how the family will commemorate his life - will be forthcoming. In the meantime, here is the resort announcement:

Lloyd Bolander, founder of New Mexico’s Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort, has died, 62 years after he opened northern New Mexico’s oldest ski area.

Bolander passed away on Monday, January 20, at his home in Vadito, just miles from the resort he founded. He was 86 years old.

“Lloyd was one of the last true pioneers of New Mexico. He and Olive had a vision for their family and community that they successfully brought to fruition through their vibrant spirits and sheer determination. That vision is carried on by his children and those of us that are blessed to be a part of his family,” said Sipapu managing partner James Coleman. “He never stopped learning and striving to be his best. He directly impacted the lives of tens of thousands and will be dearly missed.”

A New Mexico native, Bolander grew up in Penasco, and began skiing at age three, shooting the gaps between pine trees on U.S. Hill near Taos on skis purchased from Montgomery Ward.

In 1950, Lloyd and his new bride, Olive, bought 13 acres of riverfront property in the Sangre de Cristo mountains with a simple but meaningful desire to create a sustainable life doing something they loved in the valley they called home. Two years later, Lloyd opened his ski area with a 100-foot-long portable rope tow and charged 50 cents per lift ticket. He christened his slope “Sipapu,” a Tewa word for “land of paradise.”

Over the years, Lloyd – with the support of Olive, his daughter, Sue, and his son, Bruce – added and replaced lifts, put in new trails, hand-built all of the resort’s slopeside lodging, and opened a rental shop, restaurant, and store.

Lloyd was most passionate about teaching others – especially children – how to ski. He founded the Sipapu School Program, which offers deep discounts to local schools who brought their classes to learn to ski (Sue, Sipapu’s Ski School Director, now champions this initiative).

In 1984, Lloyd and Olive retired from their daily duties at Sipapu, although he frequented the resort regularly, usually helping his daughter teach ski school lessons. Lloyd and Olive were inducted into the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame in 2004. Last May the Professional Ski Instructors Association recognized Lloyd for 55 years of PSIA service.

Lloyd is survived by his wife of 64 years, Olive, and his daughter, Sue (Bolander) Leslie and her husband, Bill Leslie, of Vadito; and his son, Bruce, and his wife, Winonah, of Vadito. He is also survived by four grandsons, seven great-grandchildren and countless employees, resort guests, friends and neighbors whom he counted as family.

Lloyd – along with Olive, Sue and Bruce – began Sipapu over 60 years ago, but he did more than create a ski area. He defined what it meant to pursue a passion, to be unafraid to take risks, to build a dream, to provide for a family, to support a community, to explore, to adventure, and to walk a life modestly, humbly while loving deeply.

The Bolander family will announce how they will commemorate and celebrate Lloyd’s life at a later date.

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Lower Gamble Open

We just opened Lower Gamble this morning - it had been closed for the last week or so for snowmaking. It's now back open and in great shape.

Lower Gamble - photographed January 16, 2014

We're also getting ready to build out our Don Diego terrain park. This takes our crew about four days to build, so we will be closing this run early next week to begin the work. When we're building parks, we take some time to analyze the previous year's park - which features did guests love most? Which ones were underutilized or not used properly? The contours on our mountain also make for some great "natural" features. We study those spots on the mountain that people love to jump and jib off of most and try and incorporate those elements into our terrain park. This year, we're planning over a dozen features including boxes, jumps and rails, and we're looking at shifting the layout a bit over last year.

The entrance to Don Diego

We're eager to have our park open in time for next Saturday's King and Queen of the Hill terrain park competition, sponsored by NMX Sports. For details on that, click here.

Speaking of events, we have a couple more coming up: the Black Diamond Telemark Festival is this Saturday, and there will be free clinics (including one where I take the immediate to advanced telemarkers on a mountain tour and show them the best places to tele on our hill), free demos and the free skin-up, ski-down race after the lifts close. Next Saturday, January 25, in addition to the King/Quen of the Hill comp, we'll also be hosting the SkiBikeFun 2014 SkiBike Festival! This festival includes free demos and clinics, plus there will be a special moonlight skibike parade on Saturday night, a meet-and-greet reception in the day room and another full day of skibike fun on Sunday.

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Terrain Parks are Next

With the holiday season behind us and all five lifts turning, we're now looking at what we're opening next. Today I sidestepped Wormwood, and I was amazed to see the results of the hard work our team did last summer when they cleaned the face of this run. This run now holds snow better than it's ever done before, and with just a little more accumulation (there's a small chance of snow tomorrow, and we're eyeing another storm that's scheduled to arrive middle to late next week), we'll be able to open it.

Starting Monday, we'll bring some of our snowmakers back to hit a few hot spots on the mountain. By "hot spots," I mean places where we typically make snow and haven't finished, or areas that got a lot of traffic over the winter break. We're going to throw another layer of snow on those areas to make sure those high traffic spots last through the end of the season. We'll also start making snow and spread it across the bottom of Don Diego and Lower Gamble - we'll use this next month for our snow castle.

We're also beginning to talk a lot about terrain parks. Many of you have told me how much you've enjoyed skiing and riding Don Diego - we have, too. Others have asked how soon we'll make Don Diego a terrain park. The answer: soon. NM(X) Sports will have a big terrain park event at Sipapu on January 25, and we expect to have our biggest park open for that competition. We'll keep you updated on that. We're also discussing getting our smaller park, Pedro's Park, open soon, too.

As always, there's a lot to be done, but there's also a lot of good skiing right now! We hope to see you soon.

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