Around this same time every year, my diet shifts to candy corn, Fritos, chia seeds and Red Bull. This is a sure sign that Opening Day is quickly approaching and it's time to finish prepping the mountain for New Mexico’s Opening Day - happening right here on November 12th! My mountain operations crew is doing just that: buttoning up outstanding projects so we can focus solely on snowmaking when the temperatures cooperate. We typically start making snow 20 days after Arapahoe Basin starts blowing their own snow. This year, A-Basin made snow on October 6th so that would put us at next Wednesday to start making snow. I’ll keep my eye on the forecast and see if an earlier opportunity presents itself, in fact, temperatures do look promising Tuesday!
Here’s a quick update on the outstanding projects we’re working hard to finish up:
On Tuesday all of our lifts underwent a routine inspection. This is done by a third party inspector who inspects over 200 lifts across the country every fall. I use this as an opportunity to see how well our annual lift maintenance was conducted and to make sure our work is up to the industry standard. It’s no surprise all of our lifts passed their inspections with flying colors!
Lift inspections on October 18!
This week we’ve been pressure testing all 3,100 ft of the main snowmaking pipeline. Today we’re testing the last 6 laterals (the 2” pipe that extends from the main line to the snowmaking hydrants). When that is complete, we will run the electrical cable to each hydrant and bury all remaining pipeline and wires. I expect to finish all snowmaking preparations over the next few days.
Working on the snowmaking pipeline
Our new trail, the Howdy Extension, is nearing completion. We’ve already graded 3 of the 5 acres and once that gets done, we’ll work on revegetation. A lot of people ask what revegetation is and why it's so important. Revegetation is the process of replanting and rebuilding soil. Here at Sipapu, we put down grass seed and cover it with hay. This essentially does three things: stabilizes the soil, mitigates erosion and helps achieve root control. I prefer to do revegetation before winter so the grass seed will benefit from good moisture and germination in April and May. Spring showers provide slower runoff and helps settle the soil in comparison to the heavy rains of monsoon season.
Regrading the Howdy Extension
We’ll continue to work hard ahead of Sipapu’s Opening Day in 23 days!
If you haven’t been to Sipapu during the fall before, now is the time to do it! Take a hike or play a round of disc golf on the mountain in search of autumn hues. You won’t have to look too hard to discover aspen groves boasting their golden leaves. No matter what you choose I guarantee you’ll have a colorful view! If you ask me, the best place to see the fall colors is the top of Don Diego or anywhere along Lift 3. Click here to see an album of our favorite fall photos.
Golden aspens can be spotted all over the mountain!
Our most involved mountain project this year has been the Howdy Extension. This trail is an extension of Howdy and Lower Bambi and will add 5 acres of skiable terrain to Sipapu’s mountain stats. To give you a better idea of its expansive size Chris Bell, Snowmaking Manager, says “you could fit the length of 10 football fields” on Howdy’s Extension! Upon completion, this trail will be one of the longest and certainly the widest trail at Sipapu.
Sipapu’s newest trail, the Howdy Extension, as seen from across the highway on October 10.
I’m just as anxious as you are to see how Howdy skis covered in snow but there are a few more projects to complete before it will be ready for its inaugural run. We’re burying new snowmaking pipeline (see me in action in the photo below) to service the new terrain. This week we pressure tested the new pipeline and I’m happy to report everything is working very well. The next step is to install and bury the pipeline in preparation for snowmaking!
Chris and I laying the snowmaking pipeline into place on Howdy’s Extension.
Our annual lift maintenance is nearly complete and we expect to move snow guns into place next week in preparation for snowmaking. New Mexico will open for skiing and snowboarding on November 12 - right here at Sipapu - in only 31 days! Follow our countdown to Opening Day here.
Earlier today, James Coleman, managing partner at Sipapu and our collective of ski areas, announced the addition of Hesperus Ski Area (located 11 miles west of Durango in Hesperus, CO) to the Power Pass family. This is fantastic news for not only our passholders but for everyone who enjoys skiing in the Southwest! Here are just a few reasons why:
Power Pass holders now enjoy unlimited access to night skiing. Located south of Purgatory and just minutes from downtown Durango, Hesperus is the only resort in our collection of ski areas to offer night skiing (evening operations extend until 9:00 p.m. Mondays - Saturdays). It’s no secret that our managing partner, James Coleman, is all about making skiing more accessible for everyone. This mountain allows anyone in the Four Corners area to ski all day at Purgatory and then well into the night at Hesperus.
Plus, in addition to its 26 trails, Hesperus is the second mountain in our Power Pass family to offer tubing!
Photo credit: Scott DW Smith
New Mexico Pass PLUS and New Mexico Pass holders now have unlimited access to Colorado skiing. Not only do these passes allow you to ski or ride everyday at Sipapu and Pajarito, but you can now have unlimited access to Hesperus, too!
The marketer in me can’t help but point out that our season passes are on sale through September 30. For the lowest available pricing, purchase your pass online here! Also, payment plans are still available now through November 15!
Hesperus will also join the Power Pack and Power Card - if you know you want to ski but aren’t ready to commit to a pass, be sure to check out these discount cards, available for purchase at our ski shows!
Parents Love to Bring Their Kids to Hesperus. I love Hesperus because - in many ways - it reminds me of Sipapu: it’s small, it’s affordable and it’s perfect for young families who are learning to ski. There’s rarely a lift line. After one or two laps, the liftie will know you by sight - maybe even by name. Kids won’t get lost. Parents can (and often do!) hang out in the lodge and can watch their kids go from the chairlift to the run to the base area - and all over again. As a mom of two young rippers, I’m excited to bring my kids to Hesperus. I guarantee we’ll delay more than one bedtime so that we can all ski under the lights as a family.
Hesperus is the only resort in our collection of ski areas to offer night skiing. Photo credit: Scott DW Smith.
When James Coleman took over operations at Sipapu in 2000, Sipapu had just 3 lifts and 20 trails. Today, our ski area boasts 6 lifts (including our first-ever quad, which we opened last year - the third lift in just 3 years!), 43 trails and Sipapu is considered the fastest growing resort in New Mexico. With that kind of track record, I can’t help but think that Hesperus is destined for even greater things, too.
Welcome to the family, Hesperus!
In addition to ongoing mountain improvements (click here to learn more), our staff has been busy renovating the historic lodge. In 2013, our outdoor patio restaurant, Paradise Riverside Bar & Grill, caught fire and destroyed the Grill and damaged part of our Lodge. Since then, we’ve been hard at work planning for (and now implementing) a renovation that would keep the iconic style of the lodge while making necessary updates to accommodate Sipapu’s future.
We’ve received several questions about this project and - namely - the Day Room (Sipapu’s large meeting place inside the historic lodge). There’s a lot of history in that room - square dances, roller skating parties, weddings next to the old stone fireplace and, of course, countless family discussions over brown bagged lunches. As with any construction project, we have a plan and thoughts on what will be done and by when, but we’re at the mercy of weather, materials and permits.
For now, here’s what we know - we hope you will check back as we continue to keep you posted on what’s going on.
The Day Room
What’s remaining the same
Sipapu’s Day Room will keep the original stone fireplace and locally-harvested vigas - both will be restored and remain in their respective locations. The Day Room will be flanked by a large interior balcony once again (although the unfinished banisters which were lovingly polished by countless hands running against them are sadly gone). We’re restoring and expanding the outdoor balcony, which always delivers stunning views of the Rio Pueblo and our base area. We will also restore the family game room on the second level, which will be adjacent to the Day Room and Riverside Cafe’s seating area.
Garage doors will open up from the Day Room out to the patio for guests to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Rio Pueblo during the warmer months.
We anticipate re-opening our Day Room in time for ski season!
In addition to renovating the Day Room, Sipapu will add 2,141 square feet on to the west side of the Lodge. Key improvements for this expansion will include more bathrooms, an improved traffic flow with more gathering space, a locker room, ticket office and rental shop. While the area has been cleared for the expansion, we are unsure when this expansion will open. Nevertheless, we’re excited about this new and much-needed space!
Stay tuned for more updates! Don’t forget - Sipapu opens Saturday, November 12, 2016!
Utility work began this week for the renovation.
The Lodge exterior
The future balcony and garage doors will go here.