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Two years ago, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area was a mess. The flames were out, but smoke was still rising, and the Las Conchas Fire had taken its toll. The steel haul rope and chairs of the Spruce lift, oldest on the mountain, were lying on the grass. They had fallen because the upper terminal had burned. And the Townsite lift, the newest four-seater, was likewise out of commission, its upper terminal also a ruin. General Manager Tom Long was thinking, “How can we ever recover from this?” The challenge was among the biggest in his 45 years in the ski industry.
But that was then, and this is now. Pajarito is back; and Long credits his crew for “an extraordinary job with minimal staff to resurrect Pajarito from the ashes.” Both lifts are better than ever. Pajarito indeed opened — and had some days with great snow — in the two intervening seasons, but without the two eastern lifts, much of the mountain could be reached only by traversing from the undamaged Aspen lift, and skating back above the lodge. Next year will be different. Both the Spruce and Townsight lifts are ready to roll, only waiting for enough snow to kick off the 2013-2014 season.