Once there was a time when you reached age 60, you'd skied for free. Then you had to be 70. And now, at a half-dozen Western resorts, 80 is the new 60.
Sufficient November snowfall and a steady diet of cold nights across the southern tier of the Rockies assured resorts in New Mexico and Arizona that they will open on time.
Always powder in the early days. (International Ski History Association)
National Ski Areas Association recently published a list of when ski areas opened. Nonetheless, the debate over which hill gets to claim the title continues.
The Sandia Tramway offers a different way to get to the skiing and riding. (Sandia Tramway/Facebook)
Interstate 40 is the main thoroughfare between Flagstaff and Albuquerque – and its also the route to a trio of lesser-known skiing and riding resorts along the southernmost tier of the Rocky Mountains.
Snowbird tram glides above the Utah resort. (Snowbird/Facebook)
At U.S. ski and snowboard resorts, nearly a dozen aerial tramways keep running during the summer, ascending to high-mountain perches where the views are unparalleled.
Forecasters say it may take a bit for the El Niño pattern to settle into a southerly flow, but the southern-tier resorts of New Mexico and Arizona have already cranked up for this season – with upgrades all around.
Periods of heavy, concentrated snowfall and consistently cold temperatures this past winter brought more than 900,000 skiers and snowboarders to the New Mexico mountains.
The storms in February tended to swing toward the south, putting smiles on powder hounds in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico – and finally getting Albuquerque's Sandia Peak open.
The lift towers are in, the cables set to be strung, and the buzz around Taos Ski Valley’s new chairlift to Kachina Peak is palpable.
Here’s a New Year’s resolution to work on: Take to the slopes to learn to ski or ride at any of dozens of winter resorts in the Rockies, Sierras and Cascades.