The Forecast: Snow

Where snowmakers talk shop and share
how they're getting ready for Opening Day
(scheduled for 11.17.12)


December 18, 2012
With the recent snowfall (we picked up another foot this weekend, which gave us about 2 feet of new snow for the week), we've been slowly opening more terrain. Right now, Howdy, Beep Beep, Don Diego and Salt Lick are all open on a round robin rotation. What this means is that we are opening those trails periodically to allow skiers and snowboarders to pack out the snow (which is actually very good for the snow and these newly-opened trails). However, in spite of the additional feet of snow we received this week, we'd still like to see a little more snow on these runs before we feel fully comfortable to open them full time. There's a very fine line between packing the snow and wearing it out, and the last thing we want to do is overwork this terrain.

When conditions are right, ski patrol will open the gates on these trails randomly. These trail openings will be unannounced, and the trails may not open everyday (of course, all this could change with the snow that's predicted tonight and tomorrow). Our GM, John Paul Bradley, suggests skiing or riding by those trails every now and then to see if they've opened. If the gates have been dropped, get out there and enjoy the snow.

Our snowmaking operations are beginning to wind down - we could be ready to wrap up our snowmaking season as early as this weekend. Snowmakers are hitting hot spots around Don Diego, Salt Lick, Paul's Folly, Lower Rufous, and around Lift 3. Paul's Folly is looking really good, and we expect this will be the next man-made run we open. We're also eyeing Lower Rufous and hoping to open it as well as Lift 3 this weekend. All will depend on the snowfall.

Sipapu snowmakers continue to make snow most evenings.
Snowmaking operations could end this weekend.

And the snow has been great as of lately. We're now watching the next front that's moving through our state starting tonight. We're seeing predictions anywhere between 5" and 9". Either way, we're hopeful for another dose of powder. Another storm system looks like it could be hitting our mountain again in time for Christmas: snow is in the forecast from December 24-27. It will definitely be a white Christmas at Sipapu.

December 13, 2012
It's been a busy week. If you haven't heard, our snow stake cleared 14" on Monday morning, and we reported the second most powder in the country that day. It was the first powder day of the season in the state, and we were the only resort open in New Mexico. It was unbelievable.


This is what the base area looked like on Monday.



For more snowy photos, check out our Facebook page.

Even while the snow was falling, we took advantage of the cold temperatures to make more snow. Our team focused their efforts on the stretch of Sassafrass from Loose Caboose to the top turn of Bambi. Internally, we call this stretch of our mountain Midway.


A lot of snow fell this week, both from the sky and our snowguns.

Opening this small stretch of terrain is important because it allows us to access popular trails including Don Diego (which is where our permanent terrain park will be located), Salt Lick and Oops.

Starting around noon today, we'll be able to open Midway, giving us a beginner route from the top of the mountain to the bottom. We've also opened Butterfly and more of Rolling Rock, as the below trail map illustrates (the highlighted purple trails indicate what we've just opened):


New trail openings as of 12/13/12.

As of this morning, we've rolled out Don Diego, Salt Lick, Lower Oops, Howdy, Beep Beep, all of the Lift 3 area and Smart Chicken.


Snow guns and snow cats working side-by-side.

We're blowing snow on Don Diego and the top of Salt Lick. Depending on how much snow we get tomorrow (note the weather forecast below - we really love it when we see 100% chance of preciptiation), we may open Don Diego, Salt Lick and Lower Oops this weekend, and we're also working on Upper Rufous. We'll be making snow and grooming everything out over the next 24 hours - if the snow is thick enough, we'll open it.


The weather forecast, courtesy of Sipapus weather station.

Keep thinking snow, everyone. We are!

December 10, 2012


Mountain Update by General Manager John Paul Bradley.

New Mexico's first winter storm of the season arrived yesterday, and it packed a powerful punch.

On Saturday night, the weather showed a decent chance of accumulation, and hoped for at least 9 inches of powder.

We got 14".


Taken December 9, 2012.

Our crew is now working overtime to get as much terrain open as possible. We know that we'll have more of Sipapu's beginner route, Sasafrass open, and we'll also open all of Bambi. We'll work hard to open additional terrain ASAP, and snowmaking operations continue, too.


Taken December 9, 2012.

Sipapu is the only ski area open today - so come up and enjoy the first powder turns of the season.


Here is what the snow looked like within the first hour of yesterday's storm.

November 30, 2012

Temperatures have been mild this week, and mountain crews have been working hard to squeeze every drop of snow out of our snowguns. Thankfully, we've got a veteran crew of snowmakers, and they're really good at what they do. With that in mind, we will be opening some additional terrain this weekend. Here's what you can expect:


What's open this weekend. The orange indicates the new terrain
open over last week.

Lift #1
Lift #2
Magic Carpet

Top of Sassafras to Loose Caboose
Upper Gamble to Sassafras
Sassafras to Loose Caboose
Loose Caboose to Thumper
Chicken Run across to Butterfly
Thumper to the base area
Bambi to the Practice Slope
Practice Slope
Lower Bambi

Terrain Park
We will still have several features set up on the top of Upper Gamble. We hope to expand this park more during the upcoming week.


Groomers are working now - and will be most of the night -
to get ready for tomorrow.

Lifts turn tomorrow and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and then we'll close for a few more days before opening everyday starting Friday, December 7. We're keeping a close eye on the weather to see when Mother Nature will kick in some natural snow. The Farmer's Almanac predicted a warmer and dryer than normal November, and it was dead-on. The Almanac is showing a colder and wetter than normal December - we're hoping it's right again.

In the meantime, we're enjoying the snow we've got - you will, too.

See you this weekend!


November 26, 2012
After opening three full trails and three lifts for Opening Day on November 17, we continued to make more snow throughout the week. We made snow every night - plus during the day, whenever we could - and our team worked hard to open Lower Thumper and Lower Bambi, which we were able to do on Thanksgiving Day.


Mountain crews opened Lower Thumper just in time for Thanksgiving.


Now that the lifts are closed through Friday, we continue to work on the first turn of Sasafrass. Once we have that open, we plan to expand our terrain park, which is currently located on the upper pitch of Gamble (we'll begin building our permament terrain park on Don Diego once we receive more natural snow). We've also got more than half of our snowgun fleet blowing snow on Bambi, from the top of Thumper to the top of the Practice Slope. Our goal is to have these two areas (the first turn of Sasafrass and all of Bambi) ready by this coming weekend. We'll also continue to make snow around the base area to help expand more terrain around the Magic Carpet and our teaching area.


This year marked the first time we ever opened the Magic Carpet on an Opening Day.

Tonight and tomorrow, we anticipate getting a jump start on snowmaking: with the lows expected to be in the teens and a high amount of humidity, we'll be able to achieve that 28 degree wet bulb earlier than normal. When we reach those temperatures, our team will be ready.

We're planning to make as much snow as we can over the next few days, and we'll be pushing it out on Thursday and Friday before we open at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Our terrain park supervisor, Isa, will also be in later this week to do some more work on the terrain park.

Snowmakers began making snow around Pedro's Park last week.


There's still a lot of work to do these next several days and weeks as we push to open more terrain. Know that while skiing and snowboarding is temporarily closed now through Friday, our snowmaking efforts are not.


November 17, 2012
The 2012-2013 winter season has officially begun!

In case you missed it, here's what the first day of skiing and snowboarding in New Mexico looked like.

Today's first day was fantastic. Not only were we able to successfully pull off another top-to-bottom Opening Day and clench the title of First Ski Area to Open in New Mexico for the 11th consecutive year, but we also broke a couple of really impressive records:

First of all, we opened more lifts than we've ever done on an Opening Day. We were planning to open Lift #1 and #2, and at the last minute, we were also able to open the Magic Carpet, Sipapu's beginner lift in the base area, which bumped our lift count from two to three. Having this small lift gives beginners or those just looking to brush up their skills more space to work in, right from the start. But what makes this record especially heart warming is when we look back over the last 11 Opening Days and think about how far we've come. A decade ago, Opening Day used to mean we opened our Practice Slope. A couple years ago, it meant we opened our Practice Slope and Lift #1 (providing top-to-bottom access). Today, it meant we would open our Practice Slope, Lift #1 and the Magic Carpet. We continue to raise the bar around here, and I'm proud of our team's commitment to that.

Here is what the first run of the 2012-2013 New Mexico season looked like. Post your Sipapu videos at

Second of all, in case you missed it, there were a lot of people ready to start the 2012-2013 season - so much that we actually broke attendance records. You would not believe how much goes into making Opening Day happen - it takes months of very hard work. But seeing you there today, hearing the cheers, listening to the stories, watching the smiles... it makes every second we pour into this worth it. So, thanks for giving us such an incredible Opening Day.

The coveted first chair.

We've received some questions about our schedule - and as a reminder, Sipapu is open everyday this week (now through November 25). We'll close for a few days afterwards (to catch our breath and make a lot of snow), and then re-open on December 1-2. Daily operations are scheduled to begin on Friday, December 7.

Our snowmakers celebrated by taking a few runs today, but it's back to business tonight. Once we reach those cold temperatures, we'll begin making snow ASAP - we're working on Lower Thumper, Lower Bambi and the top turn of Sasafrass next.

Winter has finally arrived in New Mexico, and we're proud that it comes to Sipapu first. Thanks for being a part of that. Here's to an unforgettable, snowy ski and snowboard season.

November 15, 2012

Here's a message from our General Manager, John Paul Bradely, with an overview of what will be open starting this Saturday, November 17:

In summary, here's a list of what will be open:

Lift #1
Lift #2

Upper Gamble to Sassafras
Sassafras to Loose Caboose
Loose Caboose to Thumper
Thumper to the base area
Practice Slope

Terrain Park
We'll have several features set up on the skier's left side of Upper Gamble. Terrain park staff call it a "warm up" park.


Sipapu will be the first ski area open in New Mexico! Lifts will turn from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting this Saturday, November 17 through Sunday, November 25. There's a lot to be done out there - we'll see you Saturday.

November 14, 2012
Three days left.

66 hours, to be precise.

Snowmaking continues, and we - like a lot of you, no doubt - are feeling anxious for the 2012-2013 season to begin.

Yesterday, we made a good amount of snow, and again we experienced an inversion: it was 13 degrees at the base area, and 28 degrees up top. So, even though our base area is looking pretty good, we brought our guns down and made more snow around the lower part of the mountain. Our job now is to keep making as much snow as we can, and we'll push it to cover thin spots around the mountain.

Picture 11

Sipapu snowmakers made snow around the base area last night and this morning.

We've been hearing a lot of questions at the resort and on our Facebook page - here are a few answers to the questions we're hearing the most:

Will the entire mountain be open?
No. We're working to open top-to-bottom, but we will only have a few trails open. After Saturday, snowmakers will continue to make snow, and we'll open more terrain throughout the week the moment it's ready.

Will Sipapu open on Friday instead of Saturday?
No. There's still a lot of work to be done on the mountain, and we'll need every minute between now and 9 a.m. this Saturday.

Is Sipapu definitely opening on Saturday?

Picture 18
The Practice Slope is corduroyed out and ready for action.

Will Sipapu offer a terrain park starting Saturday?
Depending on the terrain we can open, we are planning to have a few features for you to jib on, but it will not be a full-blown park. Think of it as a warm-up park. We will open our Don Diego park and organic parks as soon as possible. Watch our snow report for details.

What trails will be open?
Our general manager, John Paul, will make the final call on that by tomorrow or Friday. The moment he makes the decision, we'll post it here, on our snow report, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Picture 6
Sipapu made a lot of snow over the weekend at the top of the mountain. Snowmakers are now focusing their efforts on mid-mountain.

What's Sipapu's base?
As of today, we're reporting a 16"-18" base.

How much snow did you get last weekend?
Mother Nature dropped over 5" of snow. Our snowguns produced a lot more.

Sipapu snowmakers seem to be working around the clock.
Do they sleep?

Rarely. These guys are working hard, and we're proud of the work they're doing, especially when everyone else is asleep. If you know one of these guys, be sure to tell them thanks. And buy them a Red Bull.

Picture 8
Mr. Snowcat: Sipapu snowmakers are the best at making snow. And decorating snowcats.

65 hours and 30 minutes to go. But who's counting, anyway, right?

You are. We are, too.

November 12, 2012
Last weekend, we started making snow at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

We didn't stop until after 11 a.m. this morning.

It was a 42-hour run, and it was a very, very productive stretch of snowmaking. Temperatures were very cold all weekend (they dipped into the single digits), so we blanketed the top of our mountain (specifically the route we plan to open this Saturday for our Opening Day) with snow.

Here's what the top of Lift #1 looks like this morning:


The view just above Lift #1. Sipapu snowmakers are working to open this part of the mountain by Saturday. Check the snow report later this week to learn what terrain will be open starting 11/17.

Picture 4

Mother Nature kicked in an extra 5" of snow during the weekend storm.
Photo courtesy of Sipapu snowmaker Mossy Moss.

As of this morning, our route from Thumper on down (all of Thumper, the traverse over to Don Diego and the rest of Don Diego, plus the Practice Slope) is done. Lifts #1 and #2 are nearly ready to carry skiers and snowboarders up our mountain. Over these last remaining days before we open, our snowmakers will really focus our time and energy on making snow on Loose Caboose (we've moved half of our fleet of snow guns to this section of the mountain today), and we'll be pushing snow nearly every night this week.

We're giving our snowguns - and our own bodies - about a four or five hour break. We expect to get after it again starting around 3:00 or 4:00 today.

It was a cold, hard weekend, but we're all extremely excited about how much snow is on our mountain. John Paul, our general manager, will make the decision later this week how much terrain we expect to open - a lot will depend on how much snow we can make, push out and have ready to go come this Saturday, November 17, when we become the first ski area to open in New Mexico. We'll announce it here and on our snow report. Stay tuned.

November 8, 2012
We've made snow every night this past week. Temperatures have been just cold enough for snowmaking starting at around midnight most nights, and we continue to blast our base area and the lower part of our mountain with snow.

Our general manager, John Paul Bradley, stopped making snow for a few moments to provide a mountain update. Check out it out:



The weather still looks fantastic for snowmaking this weekend. Temperatures are predicted to be cold: we're expecting to be in the single digits on Saturday night and below freezing throughout the day on Sunday. The timing of this cold front couldn't be better: we'll really start making a lot of snow at the top of our mountain, and just in time for Opening Day (Saturday, November 17). We're working really hard to get Lift #1 open by next Saturday.

Up until now, guests and staff around the base area are typically pretty comfortable wearing light jackets, but our snowmakers are constantly wearing heavy winter gear. By the way they are dressed, you would think it's the middle of winter. These guys work all night long making snow - if you know any of them, be sure to tell them thanks. We're proud of the work that they're doing.


It's cold up there: our snowmakers even duct tape the outside of their pants to keep the snow out of their boots and clothing.


November 6, 2012
The last 12 days of snowmaking operations have been busy, very busy on our mountain. On many of these nights, we've had every gun blowing snow, and our snow piles are getting huge (some of them are as big as 16 feet high and 40 feet long!)


Here is an example of one of our snowmaking piles.
It may not look big here, but it's probably enough to cover
a medium-sized moving van.

We're dotting our slopes with these very large piles of snow. Once we finish making one pile (which can take as little as just a few hours by one gun in one night), we'll move the gun to another part of the slope to make another pile of snow. Eventually, we'll create enough piles to start connecting the dots and spreading snow all across the trails.

IMG 6259
These guns were cranking out snow on the Practice Slope this morning.

Right now, all of our guns are lined up our mountain, from the top of the mountain to the bottom. The last several nights, we've experienced inversions, when temperatures on the mountain are actually higher than the temperatures in the base area and the lower part of the mountain. Since we're seeing this pattern, we're pulling guns from the top part of the mountain down to the bottom. Our goal is to blanket the lower area of our mountain with snow and finish snowmaking operations on the bottom so that we can devote all of our snowmaking resources to making snow toward the top of the mountain once temperatures drop again.

We expect to make snow every night this week, and temperatures look amazing this weekend. Temps are forecasted to be in the single digits on Saturday night and below freezing all day Sunday. Our staff will be prepared to do a 24-, maybe even a 36-hour run that day. When we start hitting those 24-plus hour shifts, we can make an unbelievable amount of snow.

To learn what terrain we'll open, watch our snow report.
We will update it just before we open on 11/17/12.

There's still a lot of work to be done, but it's looking very, very good. Stay tuned to our snow report: we will update it sometime toward the end of next week with the lifts, trails and parks we expect to open starting November 17. We're gunning to open our mountain from top to bottom, and we're working hard now to make that happen. Stay tuned.


October 26, 2012
Last night, it was snowing at Sipapu.

We kept a close eye on the temperatures that evening, and we made the call well before 9:00 that we'd be making snow within the hour.

We turned the guns on at 9:40 p.m. on Thursday, and we didn't turn them off until 1 p.m. today.

We turned the guns on at 9:40 p.m. on 10/25/12.

Picture 13

What the guns look like at night on our webcam. See it live here!

Getting over 15 hours in the first shift of snowmaking was fantastic - we were expecting to turn the guns off at 9 a.m., but the humidity dropped unexpectedly this morning, so even with the temperatures rising, we could still make snow.

We expected to shut the guns off at 9 a.m., but after a sudden drop in humidity, we kept them going.

The first 24 hours have been very productive: we've made a lot of decent piles of snow in the shadiest areas of our mountain. We'll really start to see those piles get bigger and bigger over the weekend.

The snowmakers were happy. And snowy.

At this point, our plan is to keep these snowmaking shifts going through Sunday night or early Monday morning. The lifts start turning in about three weeks (Opening Day is set for November 17, making us the first ski area to open in New Mexico), so we'll keep those guns going as long as we can.

We shut the snowguns off at 1 p.m. on 10/26/12.
We're making more tonight!

It's after 11 p.m., and we're cranking out more snow now. Time to get back to the mountain.

October 25, 2012
The last week or so, we've been keeping one eye on the weather as we've continued our work on the mountain. Temperatures have been close - very close - to snowmaking conditions, but we haven't been able to fire up the guns just yet.

All that could change tonight.

100 4242
Our snowguns are in position and snowmakers are on standby.
We've got the guns set up from the top of Loose Caboose to just above the Practice Slope.

Here's what a Sipapu snowmaker's days (and nights) typically look like leading up to the start of our season:

When we start snowmaking, the temperatures can vary wildly, but we can count on most of our work to happen in the middle of the night. Days and weeks before snowmaking begins, our crew will often try to sleep less during the night and more during the day so that the nighttime shifts aren't so rough.

When we're making snow, our guys will often lose a lot of weight because they're hiking up and down our mountain and they're also carrying heavy loads of electric line and snowmaking hoses. Plus, with temperatures that can be so brutally cold (and, let's face it, we're dealing with water out there, so we're going to get wet), we make sure to have a healthy body weight. If you checked our snowmakers' pockets, there's a good chance you'd find them full of candy corn right now... they're doing everything they can to make sure they are not underweight at the start of the season.

The night that we anticipate we're going to make snow - like tonight - is downright riveting. Many of us have been doing this work for years, but the first night of snowmaking still gets us excited. Every chance we get, we'll check the forecast to see how the weather is developing, and tonight we'll keep a close eye on the Sipapu weather station as we watch the temperatures drop. You can see the station here - this is the primary tool we use when we're deciding whether or not to make snow.

Beginning at 10:30 tonight, our crew will be on standby. We'll decide then if we'll make snow starting at 11 p.m. or at 1 or 2 a.m. Either way, we're hoping it all begins tonight.

October 17, 2012
As the temperatures continue to cool outside, our mountain staff is absolutely racing to get everything completed before the snow flies. Snowcat work is ongoing: every year, we pull the tracks off each cat to work on the belts. Our snowcats (and the groomers who drive them!) log around 1,000 hours on the snow each winter, and these machines are absolutely critical to our mountain operations. Needless to say, we put a lot of effort into making sure our cats operate flawlessly when we need them.

Each track weighs about 500 pounds, so we use the excavator to move them around. We sit the tracks up on one side to replace the belts on each track.

Here's what the belts look like at the end of the season: ready for the trash.

Our pipeline project is finally complete. Our last step was burying the control valves (see photo below). These butterfly valves will allow us to turn off the water in one line if it begins to leak while still keeping the other pipeline going. This way, even if we're working on one line, we don't have to stop making snow.

When the actuator - or control valve - indicates it is "OPEN," it means water can flow through the pipeline and to our snow guns. We like it when this says "OPEN."

We finished our pipeline project not a moment too soon: the weather forecast looks fantastic for snowmaking in the upcoming days, so we've started to position our snowguns on the mountain. We're a few days ahead of schedule, but if the temperatures are right for making snow, we won't waste any time doing it. Watch this page or our Facebook or Twitter sites to learn when our official snowmaking operations begin for the 2012-2013 season. We know this for sure: it will happen soon.

October 8, 2012
We started making snow this morning! For days, we've been watching the weather forecast, waiting to see if the anticipated cold temperatures would pan out as expected. Early this morning, the temperatures and humidity were perfect, so we fired up one of our snowguns and made several inches of snow. Today marked the earliest snowmaking start in our resort's history.

Click here to see a video what the snow looked like this morning.

100 0575

October 8 is the earliest we've ever made snow.

This morning's snowmaking was just a test run: we've wanted to run water through our new pipeline and see how it would do when we actually made snow, and we were extremely pleased with the results. We still plan to position all of our guns on the mountain within the next couple of weeks, and our "official" snowmaking operations will likely resume sometime toward the end of the month, depending on the weather and our work load.

It was good to see snow today. We'll be making a lot more of it soon as we get ready for winter (as a reminder, we're scheduled to open Saturday, November 17, 2012).

Click here to see one of our staff members getting their first tracks of the season this morning.

100 0573

We made several inches of snow this morning, and we'll make more later this month.

September 13, 2012
This weekend, Sipapu is hosting the New Mexico State Doubles Disc Golf Championships, which means we're under the gun to get several projects wrapped up - or at least out of the competitors' - and their discs' - way. We finished pressure testing our new pipeline yesterday, and this morning we discovered a few small leaks that are very easy to fix. We'll re-pressurize the line later today and start covering up the trenches, especially from the base area to mid-Thumper, which is where the discs will by flying.

Some of our mountain crew members will get a break from the pipeline project so they can start mowing our mountain this week. Mowing is another one of those annual tasks that may sound mundane, but it's critical to our snowmaking operations. Simply put: a trail with short grass is easier to cover with snow than a trail with long grass. Plus, the manicured trails will help this weekend's disc golf champs locate any wayward discs.

If you thought your yard takes a long time to mow, imagine our mountain: it typically takes us around 2 weeks using our heavy-duty riding mowers, and we mow everywhere the machines safely allow us. Can you imagine hurtling your John Deere down a steep mountain slope? The mowers don't always go up the mountain, but they sure do go down, and our staff will tell you, without hesitation: it's one rocking ride.

100 4581
Can you imagine mowing a trail like this? Can you even identify it?
Get the correct answer on our Facebook page.

September 11, 2012

The last two weeks have been filled with our pipeline project. As of today, we have all 1,800 feet of snowmaking pipeline laid from the Practice Slope all the way up (and just beyond) Thumper. Once we get the valves in, we'll start running water through the line and do a pressure test to make sure there are no leaks. After that, we'll bury the pipe and track pack the area with straw. This involves covering the ground with straw and driving our dozer over it. The dozer's tracks crease down and kind of seal the straw (think of it like buttoning a shirt). From that point on, the pipeline will be ready when it's time to start making snow. Our expectation is to have this project finished before the end of the month.
picture 9
We just picked up the latest Farmer's Almanac, and I'll tell you: it's looking fantastic for the 2012-2013 ski and snowboard season. We're seeing colder than normal temperatures and above average precipitation from December through March, which is ideal if you're someone like us who wants nothing more than to get buried in snow. As we all know, predicting the weather can be difficult to do, but our experience tells us that the old Farmer's Almanac has been pretty spot on. The Almanac indicates that the conditions should be pretty solid for snowmaking again this season, too.

The weather is starting to get cool: for the first time last week, we had a morning low that dipped below 40 degrees. While it's certainly not cold enough yet (we don't make snow until temperatures hit 28 degrees), it's a reminder that the snowmaking season will be here soon...

August 29, 2012

While we've been moving forward with our pipeline project (we've already buried 140 feet of pipeline in the past two days, and we expect to have the pipe buried all the way up to the top of the Practice Slope sometime today. To see our progress live on the mountain cam, click here and select "Practice Slope"), ongoing maintenance continues on our mountain. And, as the below video demonstrates, our work isn't exactly routine.

Have you ever wondered how the chairs on our lifts are attached to the haul rope?

This video shows the lift crews doing their annual maintenance, inspection and moving of the chairs on Lift #4. Each chair is removed from the pin (called a grip) that mounts it to the haul rope. Once all the chairs are removed (we take them down one at a time), we use a machine called a detensioning vise to pull slack in a very small section of the rope so it opens up and allows the grip to be removed. All grips are inspected for cracks and every year, we send 10 of those gips to a lab for x-ray inspection for internal cracks. On a lift like #4, it means we are x-raying each grip every four years.

Each grip is then reinserted a foot further down the haul rope so wear and tear is spread evenly and not concentrated in one area. The central strand of the haul rope is common fiber rope and only acts as a cushion between the outer metal strands. In the video, after we open the strands using the detensinoning vise, we cut a section of the central strand to make room for the grip. The grip is dipped in oil to make insertion easier. The haul rope is then released from the vise and stray fiber strands are burned off. Afterwards, the chair is replaced on the grip and the crew moves on to the next chair. 


m name="movie" value="">


We will continue to keep you updated on our ongoing projects as we prepare for the winter. As always, if you have any specific questions or comments, feel free to post them on our Facebook page or e-mail them to [email protected]. We'll do our best to answer every question!


August 24, 2012
For weeks, we've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of an important delivery, and it finally came: snowmaking pipe. Most people wouldn't necessarily rejoice over something like this.

For us, it's almost like Christmas!

100 4601

Snowmaking pipeline arrives at Sipapu!

This pipeline help us become more efficient when we're making snow. Here's how:

Let's say you need to water your lawn. Instead of your spigot being at your house, though, let's say the closest one is on the opposite end of your property. How would you water your grass? Your best bet would be to connect several hoses together to finally reach your lawn.

Now imagine your lawn is a mountain, and instead of strolling across the manicured grass to reach your spigot, you have to walk over rocky trails, between dense aspen stands and through steep terrain. Plus, instead of doing this work on a balmy summer day, you need to do it in the middle of the night when temperatures are hovering around 5 degrees (see the below photo for an example - it was a "comfortable" 16 degrees when this shot was taken). Not only do you have to find your spigot - located up to a half mile away - aided only by starlight and a headlamp, but you also have to contstantly work to keep your hoses from freezing.

Picture 12

Sipapu snowmakers are dedicated to making the best snow possible.

This work isn't easy. Adding pipeline will help our efforts tremendously. We will soon be burying our snowmaking pipe on the Practice Slope and Thumper - routes where we've always made snow. This new pipeline, however, will make our snowmaking more efficient. We'll be able to reach those spigots (we call them hydrants) much easier when we're making snow on Paul's Folly, the bottom of Loose Caboose, Bambi, Rolling Rock and lower Bambi. This pipe will effectively double number of hydrants we have available, and we'll be able to blow snow in more locations and trails at once.

In the end, what this means is that we'll be able to open more terrain faster.

Sounds kind of like Christmas for all of us!

We'll keep you posted on this important project here. In the meantime, to look at more pipeline photos, check out our Facebook page.

August 15, 2012
Sipapu is scheduled to open November 17 - just over 3 months away - and we are expected to be the first ski area to open in New Mexico. As we count down the days (and, if you talk to some of our staff, they may be able to rattle off the minutes and seconds) left until the lifts start turning, we'll use this site as a way to keep you updated on how we're focusing on the mountain and getting it - and ourselves - ready for the 2012-2013 ski season.

Like you, we are eager for the snow to fly.

With the days getting a little shorter and the weather beginning to cool, our thoughts are quickly turning to snow making. Our ski area dedicates a lot of time, energy and resources to creating and maintaining exceptional snow. This committment has enabled us to be the first ski area to open in the state for the last decade, and we've also offered skiers and snowboarders the longest season in New Mexico for several of those years, too.

We typically fire up our snow guns in late October (and on October 13, 2011, we even picked up over a foot of snow - without the aid of snowguns!), and we're working now so that when the conditions are right, we are ready to go.

Our entire fleet is fully serviced and ready to move to the mountain. Last year, we brought the guns out of hibernation and positioned all of them on October 17 - it will probably happen around that same time this year.

Moving guns to mountain in 2011. Not a bad view, huh?

In the meantime, we've got several other projects in the works. We've been doing quite a bit of maintenance on our snowcats (pictured below) and they'll soon be outfitted with new tillers, which will lay down some very nice courderoy.



Snowcat maintenance is ongoing this summer.

We've also been doing some fantastic improvements on some of our most popular tree runs, and we're just about ready to launch a major project that will help us achieve the best early season conditions possible. More on that later. In the meantime, please keep watching this website for more updates on how we're getting ready another winter season. If you have any specific questions or comments, feel free to post them here or e-mail them to [email protected]. We love hearing you, and it's motivating to know you are as excited as we are about winter. It will be here soon