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!
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
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
First of all, I want to thank everyone who joined us for Sipapu's opening weekend. Thanks to the commitment and hard work of our snow making and mountain operations teams, we were able to open top to bottom and before any other ski area in New Mexico for the 13th consecutive year.
New Mexico's first skier and snowboarders on the state's first chair of the season.
Shortly after we closed on Monday, it started to snow. We expected 5" to 8", and we ended up with 24" by early Wednesday morning (click here for photos)! It was absolutely incredible and the timing was fantastic, given that we're gearing up for a Friday re-opening and we'll be open daily through November 29.
The new lift line with 2 feet of snow. Not a bad view.
Since the snowfall, we've spent a lot of time grooming and track packing to get things prepped for our Thanksgiving week. It looks really good around here. As of today, this is what we expect to have open starting Friday (click here for a trail map).
Magic Carpet - Practice Slope
Magic Carpet - Ski School Area
We'll essentially have everything Lift 1 services with the exception of a few tree runs (Pinball, Indecision, Reasonable Anxiety, No Whiners, Wormwood, Jip & Josh Chutes).
We are checking out the terrain around Lift 3 and Lift 4 to see what we can open during the upcoming week, too. Stay tuned for a final confirmation about that.
Our terrain park crew is currently rebuilding the small park at the top of Lift #1. We will keep the park in the same place as last weekend, although our goal is to make it bigger. Again, we will keep you posted here and on our snow report page.
Chairs are getting installed on the new quad
In addition to all of this, we were also working on our new lift (to read the details about Sipapu's first quad, see: Introducing a New Lift!). This week, we finished the haul rope and have been installing chairs, and we're now finalizing a few remaining details before we schedule our final load test.
A quick word about load tests: this is one of the final steps for a new lift installation. During this test, we load the chairs (we'll use barrels of water) to emulate riders and then we'll run the lift. We anticipate that this test will happen soon and it could be scheduled on a day that we are operating. If this happens, we will close the west side of the mountain for the safety of our guests. We will let you know as soon as we have a confirmed date and time for this test.
See you Thanksgiving week at Sipapu! Lifts run daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Friday, November 20 through Sunday, November 29. Daily operations begin Friday, December 4.