LA Ski Club still weighing its options

-A A +A

Pajarito > Sipapu group, County still interested

By Mike Cote

Amid the bad news, there is some good news for the Los Alamos Ski Club.
The ski club membership voted in early February to explore a possible land and asset transfer to Los Alamos County or another interested party.
And while exploration efforts with the county about the possible transfer are going well, LASC has also received a potential offer from a group affiliated with Sipapu, another popular ski resort in Northern New Mexico, that would also be interested in managing the area.
Ski club president Philip Rae said one of the biggest worries of the club’s membership-at-large is that off-season activities, such as mountain biking and hiking, would be curtailed. However, there seems to be consensus from both the Sipapu group and the county that spring and summer events are vital for the community.
While it’s hardly unanimous among club members that a move to transfer operations is a good thing, Rae said it’s hard to envision a scenario where it wouldn’t be necessary for LASC to take these steps.
“Part of it is that we can’t raise enough capital that we can see to turn this situation around,” he said. “It would be kind of a band-aid and wouldn’t really be helping the situation.”
Pajarito Mountain has suffered, in the last decade, more bad ski seasons than good and LASC, which operates the area, is close to becoming insolvent.
Ski area crews officially shut operations down for the year last week. The 2013-14 ski season netted just 18 days of operation on a limited basis — only the beginning area runs and lifts were operational — due to a lack of snowfall.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” Pajarito general manager Tom Long said. “It makes you sad that Mother Nature forgot about us. It just wasn’t what we needed. We got close to opening a couple of times, but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
There are some club members that would hope to wait things out and see if the next few winters might bring more snow, but Rae thinks even some of the holdouts might be coming around to changing their opinions.
At the February meeting, LASC members voted 206-21 in favor of proceeding with talks to interested parties of the land and asset transfer.
Rae said the ski club’s board of directors may have a transfer plan in place within the next month. LASC will meet again Wednesday to discuss the options it has in front of it right now.
For right now, off-season activities at Pajarito will go on more or less as scheduled.
“It’s been fairly successful,” Long said of the mountain’s spring and summer event schedule. “Since I have been here, with the concerts, with the mountain biking and with the café being open on a regular basis…it’s kept Pajarito in the public eye instead of it being fallow for six or seven months. It’s a wonderful venue and it’s a wonderful place to recreate.”