New Mexico's Sandia Peak Succumbs To Snow Shortage; Closes Down Feb. 18
The first casualty of a low-snow year in sections of the Rockies is Sandia Peak, which shut down its lifts on Presidents Day.
Sandia Peak officials appear to be holding slim hopes that enough snow will fall for any of the New Mexico resort’s 200 acres to reopen in the 2012-2013 season. Operations Manager Brian Coon told Albuquerque media that it was “one of the worst (seasons) in the last 7 or 8.”
The last official snow report by Sandia Peak had a 14-inch base, and Coon reported that only 20 or so people showed up on Feb. 18, Presidents Day, this year, as opposed to some 2,000 in a normal year.
Only a total of 32 inches this year. The ski area opened a week late in early January and never had more than its beginner area and one lift active. An average snow year yields 125 inches on the trails cut on the east flank of the Sandia Mountains.
It’s been a lean year for many Rocky Mountain resorts. In New Mexico, recent storms have finally bolstered base depths at Taos Ski Valley, Angel Fire, Red River and Ski Santa Fe that had lagged behind historic averages for December, January and early February.
What storms that did make it to the southern Sangre de Cristos cycled north or south of Albuquerque and Sandia Peak. Ski Apache in the southern Sacramento Mountains near Ruidoso certainly hasn't had a banner year to open its new Apache Arrow gondola, but it's adequate. The ski area has 30 of 55 trails open and 5 of 10 lifts rolling.
But, of course, in the first days following the shuttering of Sandia Peak, some eight inches of snow fell at the area.
Photo: Sandia Peak Ski and Tramway (in better snow days).