28" in 5 Days

The last few days have been very snowy in New Mexico and especially at Sipapu! Since Saturday, we've picked up 28" of snow. Not bad, considering we were anticipating closer to 14". These back-to-back winter storms were impressive - the second one, especially (which brought us snow Monday and Tuesday of this week). That system was pushing south out of Chama, New Mexico, and when we see that happen, we are usually in the bull's eye of the storm. This time was no different.

Here's what our mountain looked like on Sunday morning. By then, we'd received over a foot of snow.

Our mountain crews have been working hard to manage the snowfall and drop the ropes on additional terrain. We've already opened Chopos, Thunder Bunny, Jimbo Gulley and Upper and Lower No Whiners.

Now that the storm has moved its way out of New Mexico, the snowmaking temperatures are fantastic. We're capitalizing on this and targeting a few key spots, including the Lift 3 lift line, Rufus, the second pitch of Gamble and the exits to Lifts 3 and 4. We've also closed Thumper to make more snow there, and I anticipate opening this run either tomorrow or Friday.

Many guests are asking us about when we'll open Lifts 3 and 4. We may have one or both of those lifts open as early as this weekend. Ski Patrol will be evaluating the terrain in these areas and we'll have them open as quickly as possible.

This is what the top of Lift 3 looked like earlier this week. The conditions out here are fantastic - we can't wait to open this terrain.

Either way, I anticipate having everything open by Christmas Eve. There's no better holiday gift around here! (Except perhaps a season pass - the sale ends this Friday!)

By the way, our weather station indicates we could be seeing more snow next week. One thing is for certain: it will be a very white Christmas at Sipapu.

Have you seen our new yurts? This one is located right next to the duplex. The bridge you see here is new, too. It takes you directly to our new quad!

Celebrating the Quad and What's Next

Today was a great day.

We started with the grand opening celebration of our new quad. It was a fantastic moment, being surrounded by so many people who were instrumental in bringing this new lift to Sipapu as well as those guests who are enjoying it. I couldn't help but smile thinking about how our founder, Lloyd Bolander, would have loved this lift. We continue to be grateful to Lloyd and his wife, Olive, for their vision and passion for skiing. Lloyd was known for his dedication to teaching others to ski, and this lift is perfect for ski school students or those brushing up their skills. We know Lloyd would be proud of this lift. We certainly are.

Pictured left to right: Assistant Mountain Manager Chris Bell, Taos County Commissioner - District V Candyce O'Donnell, Winonah and Bruce Bolander, Carson National Forest Recreation and Lands Staff Paul Schilke, Sipapu co-founder Olive Bolander, lift operator Randy Roybal and Mountain Manager John Paul Bradley.

After our ribbon cutting (see photo above), it started snowing, and it kept going throughout the day. We checked the snow stake at 2:00 today, and we saw about 6" in just a few hours' time. Our weather station (click here to see our station) indicates we may get more snow tonight, tomorrow and again on Tuesday. This will be a great weekend and week of skiing and snowboarding!

The top of our new lift during today's winter storm. 6" of snow looks good on and around this quad! For more pictures from today, click here.

As we look to the week ahead, we're not only eyeing the snow, but also the cold temperatures. We should have excellent snowmaking conditions next week, and our priority is to open Rufous and we'll work on Lift 3 and Smart Chicken after that. If everything goes according to plan, we'll have Lift 3 open this coming weekend.

We're also beginning to think about our terrain park. Our guests have enjoyed the small park at the top of Lift 1, although we'll see some changes very soon. We'll move our current park to it's permanent location, at Pedro's Park. Located just off of Bambi, this park will be accessed by the new lift. If you love terrain parks, you'll love this: with the new Pedro's Park, you'll have just a short 3-minute lift ride, thanks to our new lift! Once we open Lift 3, we'll also look to open our two organic terrain parks (New Mexico's *only* organic parks) and begin work on the Don Diego terrain park, our largest park. We typically open Don Diego around Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

You're looking at the future location of Pedro's Terrain Park, which is located right by our new lift.

In the meantime, enjoy the snow!

Our First Quad Lift is Now OPEN!

Sipapu-Trail-Map-2015-NEW-LIFT-3 copy
At last!

I'm proud to announce that Sipapu's first quad opened at 11:15 on Wednesday morning! We've been talking a lot about this new quad since last spring, and I'm going to reiterate a few points we made when we first introduced it back in April (see: Introducing a New Lift!):

It’s Sipapu’s First Quad and Made for Families
Our new lift is a quad, a chairlift that can accommodate four skiers or snowboarders at a time. Virtually everything about this lift is family-friendly, even down to the seating arrangements: now a mom, a dad, and two kids can all ride on the same chair.

When we began construction on this project, our managing partner, James Coleman, said this - and I think it summarizes our intention with this new lift perfectly:

"We are building this lift for families. It is perfect for parents and kids to ride together, and it gives those who are learning easy access to some of our best beginner terrain."

Which leads me to my next point...

It Is Ideal for Beginners
The beginner lift carries guests 330 vertical feet and services beginner trails like Bambi and Lower Bambi, and intermediate trails including Thumper and Rolling Rock, giving families and novice skiers and snowboarders an easier way to practice their skills before progressing to more advanced terrain.

This marks the 6th Lift at Sipapu and the 3rd New Lift in Less than 5 Years
The new chairlift is part of a long-term strategy to introduce more skiers and snowboarders to winter sports. For more than a decade, Sipapu has offered a unique Learn to Ski FREE program that offers first-time skiers and snowboarders a free ski school lesson with a lift ticket purchase. This free lesson program is the only of its kind in New Mexico and among a handful in the United States. In 2010, our ski school teaching area introduced Sipapu’s first magic carpet – a conveyor lift that glides flush along the surface of the snow. The response to this carpet was so overwhelming that we added a second carpet in 2013 on Sipapu’s Practice Slope.

The New Lift Comes With a New Run
In addition to the new lift and its superior beginner terrain access, we added a new intermediate run directly under the lift, which will bump our trail count to 42. We're calling this new run Faline (not to be confused with Fall Line). Faline is a character in the Disney movie, Bambi. We've named several trails after characters in this popular movie: Bambi, Thumper, Lower Thumper, Flower.

This new lift will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. I couldn't be more proud of the work our team did to make this happen. More details to come - in the meantime, enjoy Sipapu's first quad (and the new trail!)

Today's first guests on the new chairlift

New Lift Load Test: Complete

For those of you who missed it, we completed our load test on the new lift this week as well as the staged evacuation. Both are mandatory requirements prior to opening a new lift, and both went without a hitch. We have a few remaining tasks to complete prior to opening this lift for our guests, and we hope to have those complete this week. We'll make the announcement here when the new lift is ready to go!

The load test on the new lift

We simulate bodies on the lift to make sure everything works as it should. Our test went great!

Part of the final checklist includes doing a lift evacuation, which we practiced here. Great practice for our staff.

For those of you who have visited us this week, you may have noticed that the very first top of Sassafrass (off the top of Lift #1) is currently closed. We discovered a pipeline leak in that area, which we are currently fixing. We will likely have this repaired by Saturday, and we'll re-open the route starting Friday, December 4. NOTE: this means we do not have a complete, top-to-bottom, beginner route.

We have also been making snow this week, although temperatures now and going forward look pretty marginal. We will need additional snow at the entrance of Lift 3 before we can open that terrain. Again, we anticipate having that ready to go when we open for daily operations.

While all of these projects are keeping us busy, we continue to be very excited about the amount of terrain we have open! Having roughly half of our mountain open in mid-November is fantastic - and we can't wait to add the new lift to the mix!

November 21, 2015