New Mexico's Sipapu Will Run Struggling Pajarito; Promises More Snowmaking
The arrangement between 70-mile neighbors will focus on securing water rights and upgrading snowmaking infrastructure so that Pajarito can be open every day of the season – versus its previous Friday-Sunday schedule.
"We are excited to bring the vision we began at Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort to Pajarito Mountain Ski Area while continuing the legacy that the Los Alamos Ski Club established decades ago," James Coleman, managing partner at Sipapu, told SnoCountry.com. "Our vision is simple: to offer a consistent ski and snowboard season and make it affordable for everyone."
Run for 70 years by the Los Alamos Ski Club, Pajarito has had consecutive meager snow years that, coupled with declining ticket sales, inadequate snowmaking and damage from a 2011 forest fire, forced the ski club to shut down the 750-acre mountain in January.
Sipapu’s Coleman said the two resorts share similarities in size and style: "Pajarito offers a low-key atmosphere that's attractive for families and skiers and snowboarders looking for untracked snow along with good value, and these qualities absolutely resonate with our core," he said.
Sipapu will work with Los Alamos County, to which the ski club transferred ownership, to develop more snowmaking – a top priority for keeping the mountain open all season. Pajarito already has a reservoir at the top of the hill to supply water for snowmaking, but the reservoir relies solely on runoff that has been well below-average the last couple of years. This season, there was only enough runoff to put artificial snow down on the beginner area.
Located 70 miles east of Pajarito, family-run Sipapu is northern New Mexico’s oldest resort. Both resorts share more than a half-decade of old-school, family-style skiing and snowboarding. Skiing in the Pajarito area dates at least to the 1930s, and a ski club was first organized in 1943, when the Los Alamos National Laboratory was established to develop an atomic bomb. Today, the area has six lifts — a quad, a triple, three double chairs and one rope tow — 40 trails and a peak elevation of 10,440 feet.
"Pajarito delivers some distinctly unique features, like the best fall line and bump skiing in the state, the incredible support of the Los Alamos community, and the experienced leadership at the ski area, the County and the ski club,” said Coleman.
The arrangement includes season passes that will be valid at either mountain for $299. The pass includes free day tickets at 27 other areas in the West.
Photo: Los Alamos' NM Pajarito ski area will be run by Sipapu (Pajarito).