It’s all down hill from here

Photo courtesy of Santa Peak Ski and Tram/ Ski Santa Fe
: Sandia Peak Ski area in Albuquerque is only a four hour drive from Clovis.

The Associated Press

Some New Mexico skiers will be able to celebrate Thanksgiving weekend on the slopes thanks to a combination of early season snow and cold temperatures, which have allowed ski areas to put their snowmaking guns to work.

Taos Ski Valley General Manager Gordon Briner said with several inches of weekend snow, the area’s scheduled Thanksgiving Day opening will happen.

“I think everybody is on track for their announced opening days, and they’re all excited to get open and get the season going,” said Steve Lewis, spokesman for Ski New Mexico, the skiing and snowboarding trade organization.

Sipapu opened Saturday for weekend skiing and will open daily Dec. 9. Red River’s opening is slated for Wednesday while Ski Apache is scheduled to join Taos with a Thanksgiving Day opening.

Ski Santa Fe and Enchanted Forest have also tentative Thanksgiving Day openings scheduled while Pajarito reported nearly a foot of new snow over the weekend on its Web site but said it was too early to tell whether it would open Thanksgiving Day.

A likelihood of above-normal snow this winter is good news for ski areas statewide.

New Mexico tends to receive above-normal precipitation during El Nino winters and a weak El Nino began developing in June, said Charlie Liles, chief meteorologist for the New Mexico office of the National Weather Service.

During an El Nino year, warm equatorial Pacific Ocean water pulls the jet stream south, bringing more winter snowfall into New Mexico.

In New Mexico, the major indicators favor the southern part of the state for snow, which likely won’t fall until the second half of the winter.

Last winter, Lewis said ski areas had a slow start to the season with late arriving snow, but all the ski areas were up and running in time for the holidays.

Overall, the state’s ski resorts logged just under 807,000 skier days, which is defined as any part of a day a skier or snowboarder takes to the slopes. There were 951,000 skier days during the 2002-2003 season, he said.

Tentative opening dates for other New Mexico ski areas are Dec. 10 for Angel Fire and Dec. 18 for Sandia Peak. Ski Cloudcroft has not posted an opening date.

Where to ski in New Mexico
Angel Fire (Angel Fire)
Phone: (800) 633-7463
Opening date: Dec. 10
Approximate driving distance: 270 miles; 5 hours and 30 minutes
Number of trails: 71
Full-day lift tickets:
Adults:$45 – $48
Children full-day: $33
Web site: www.angelfireresort.com

Enchhanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area (Red River)
Phone: (800) 633-7463
Opening date: Dec. 10
Approximate driving distance: 285 miles, 5 hours, 50 minutes
Number of trails: 71
Full day passes:
Adult: $9
Children (12 and under) pass: $3
Teens and seniors: $7
Web site: www.redriverskiarea.com

Pajarito Mountain Ski Area (5 miles north west Los Alamos)
Phone: (505) 662-7669
Opening date: Dec. 3
Approximate driving distance: 247 miles; 4 hours and 40 minutes
Number of trails: 37
Full-day lift tickets:
Adults:$39
Teens (13-17): $31
Children (12 and under): $25
Web site: www.skipajarito.com

Red River (Red River)
Phone: (505) 754-2223
Reservations: (800)331-7669
Opening date: Now open
Approximate driving distance: 285 miles; 5 hours, 50 minutes
Number of trails: 57
Full-day lift tickets:
Adults:$49
Children ( 4-12): $34
Teens (14-19): $43
Seniors (70 and over) and childern (3 and under) Free
Web site: www.redriverskiarea.com

Sandia Peak (Albuquerque)
Phone: (505)242-9133
Opening date: Dec. 18 (tentative)
Approximate driving distance: 220 miles; 3 hours, 50 minutes
Number of trails: 35
Full-day lift tickets: Adults:$40
Teens (13 – 20): $33
Children and seniors (62 – 71): $30
Children (under 46 inches tall) or seniors (72 or older) : Free
Web site: www.sandiapeak.com

Santa Fe Ski Area (Santa Fe)
Phone: (505) 982-4429
(505) 983 – 9155
Opening date: Dec. 10 tentative
Approximate driving distance: 210 miles, 4 hours
Number of trails: 41
Full-day lift tickets:
Adults: $47
Teens (13 – 20): $38
Seniors (62 – 71) and children (12 and under): $34
Seniors (72 and over) and children (46 inches and under): Free
Web site: www.skisantafe.com

Sipapu (Highway 518, 23 South east of Taos)
Phone: (505)587-2240
Opening date: Now open for weekends only until Dec. 9 when openning full time
Approximate driving distance: 225 miles; 4 hours, 45 minutes
Number of trails: 33
Full-day lift tickets:
Adults:$36
Teens (13 – 20) : $34
Children (7 – 12): $25
Seniors (60 – 69): $22
Children (7 and under) and seniors (70 and over) : Free
Web site: www.sipapunm.com

Ski Apache (Ruidoso)
Phone: 336-4356
Opening date: Today
Approximate driving distance: 185 miles; 3 hours, 50 minutes
Number of trails: 55
Full-day lift tickets:
Adults: $49 – $52
Children (12 and under): $31 – 34
Beginer group lessons get a free lift ticket for first day.
Web site: www.skiapache.com

Ski Cloudcroft (Cloudcroft)
Phone: 682-2333 (line won’t be opperational until December)or call Cloudcroft Chamber of Commerce at (505)-682-2733
Opening date: Dec. 15 (tentative)
Approximate driving distance: 240 miles; 5 hours
Number of trails:14

Taos Ski Valley (Taos)
Phone: 776-2291 or (800)347-7414
Opening date: Today
Approximate driving distance: 250 miles; 5 hours
Number of trails: 105
Full-day lift tickets:
Adults: $55
Teens (13 -17): $43,
Children (6 -12) :$25
Seniors (68 – 70) and over: $41
Seniors (70 and older) and children (6 and under): Free
Tickets are half price Nov. 29 – Dec. 17
Web site: www.skitaos.org