Lifestyle

Hit the slopes – Northern New Mexico has skiing options for every budget and every skill level

COURTESY ANGEL FIRE RESORTAs winter wraps its snowy arms around Northern New Mexico, there is a lot to be excited about for the 2016-2017 winter ski and snowboard season. Here in Taos, we are fortunate to have four great ski areas within a one-hour drive. Here’s what to expect this season at Taos Ski Valley, Angel Fire Resort, Sipapu Ski and Summer Area and Red River Ski Area.

TAOS SKI VALLEY
skitaos.com
Opening Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.

ANGEL FIRE RESORT
angelfireresort.com
OPEN Dec. 9 to March 19.

SIPAPU SKI AND SUMMER RESORT
sipapunm.com
opening Nov. 12.

RED RIVER SKI AND SUMMER AREA
redriverskiarea.com
Opening weekend Nov. 23-27.

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TAOS SKI VALLEY
skitaos.com

It probably goes without saying, but the biggest change happening at TSV involves The Blake Hotel, a new 80-room lodge that transforms the visual appearance of the base area. With a scheduled opening date of Feb. 1, 2017, The Blake has everyone talking.

“We’re excited for the new property to open up,” says Taos Ski Valley Communications Manager Dave Smith. “That’s the big thing. People will come up, and see this brand new property, the premier property in the Ski Valley.”

The Blake - Artist's Rendering, Courtesy Taos Ski Valley

The Blake – Artist’s Rendering, Courtesy Taos Ski Valley

With a spa and wellness center and a fine-dining restaurant—named 192, which is a reference to the first three tail numbers on the plane from which Ernie Blake first spotted the future slopes of TSV—Smith says that, “the hotel is going to be a completely different feel up here for the coming winter. It’s exciting.”

Other changes at TSV this winter include expanded glades in the hike-to Wild West area, and off of North American and Ernie’s Run; additional snowmaking for enhanced early season conditions; new options at the Ernie Blake Snowspnorts School, including telemark, steeps and bumps, women-only and racing specialty clinics; and significantly improved mobile phone coverage in the valley and on the mountain.

As part of work included in a Tax Improvement Development District (TIDD), fiber lines have gone underground and all the old overhead lines are being removed.
“We’ve got 4G now and we’ll have a tower back by The Bavarian,” Smith says, adding that there are plans for future towers elsewhere on the mountain. “It’s something people expect anywhere they go and this will drastically improve the experience here.”

ANGEL FIRE RESORT
angelfireresort.com

Angel Fire Resort will be celebrating its 50th anniversary season in 2016-2017, and as such, the resort and ski area has a lot of exciting news for the upcoming season.

“To be in operation for 50 years is pretty impressive,” says Angel Fire Director of Marketing and Promotions, Spencer Weimar. “[The celebration] will start off on Jan. 19 with a cocktail and welcome party and open house here in the hotel. We’re working with locals to get old photos and have them blown up, and we’ll have some people talk about the significance. We’ll also have some events for past employees.”

That same weekend, the resort will feature $5.50 lift tickets, the same price as in 1966 when the mountain first opened. This will be limited to the first 550 skiers and boarders each day.

Mountain Manager Andy Whitacre is justifiably excited about some of the changes that are happening on the mountain. “I’m pretty excited about the new Piston Bully Snowcats,” he says. “The grooming team is very excited. These have a little larger groomer and the actual combs are deeper as well. It’s gonna leave a nice corduroy for our guests, and they’ll notice it immediately.”

The new snowcats have Gen 4 engines, which are also much more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. In addition to new equipment, there will also be some new wrinkles on the mountain.

“We’ve got some terrain park improvements as well, at the only lift-assisted terrain park in New Mexico” Whitacre says. “John Eppler, our terrain park designer, has put a number of stash parks and features at various parts of the mountain. They’ll be like one-hit wonders, and then you keep going.” Eppler will also be building a boarder/skier cross course at Liberation Park to be up all season.

Other improvements this season include increased snowmaking capabilities and new trail signage on the mountain.

COURTESY TAOS SKI VALLEY

COURTESY TAOS SKI VALLEY

SIPAPU SKI AND SUMMER RESORT
sipapunm.com

Sipapu once again boasts the earliest opening day, Nov. 12, in New Mexico. But there are many other reasons to get excited about Sipapu this season. The resort’s historic lodge and day room, which were damaged by fire in 2013, are undergoing a massive remodel that will feature a multi-purpose gathering room and improve the lodge’s layout and function. Key improvements include more bathrooms, a locker room, ticket office and rental shop.

Additionally, mountain crews have been busy adding the Howdy Extension, which will extend Howdy and Lower Bambi, while adding nearly five acres of skiable terrain. All the new trails will be accessed by the resort’s newest quad, which opened in 2015.

The company that owns Sipapu recently announced the purchase of Hesperus Ski Area, just outside of Durango, Colorado. Hesperus joins Sipapu, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, Arizona Snowball, and Purgatory in the Power Pass family.

RED RIVER SKI AND SUMMER AREA
redriverskiarea.com

One of the most exciting bits of news from Red River this winter is the addition of the Emerald Quad lift, which replaces the Green Chair at the Summit Camp, near the Ski Tip restaurant.

The lift will provide better access to the gentle slopes of Summit Camp while acting as a portal to the more challenging terrain served by the Silver Chairlift.
“The Emerald Quad will virtually eliminate lift lines at our Summit Camp by doubling the uphill capacity and traveling at nearly twice the speed of the current lift,” says Walt Foley, deputy general manager at Red River Ski Area.

Family owned and operated, Red River Ski Area has a base elevation of 8,750 feet and summit elevation of 10,350 feet, with 1,600 feet of vertical. The mountain has 57 trails and one glade and is easily accessed from the town of Red River, which sits right at the base of the ski area. There are few mountains anywhere that meld the experience of village and mountain the way Red River does. Red River also hosts the popular Snow Coach Dinner Tour, a unique experience that brings guests up the mountain via snow cat to the Ski Tip restaurant for beautiful night views and great food.

TAOS MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

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