Pajarito, NM, Mar. 22, 2019

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the western US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

Pajarito, NM, Mar. 22, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:15 pm

This was perhaps the most “jamesdeluxe” day of skiing I have ever had.
1) Under the radar ski area most people have never heard of? Check.
2) Mostly intermediate terrain but enough pitch to ski powder? Check.
3) 5 inches new snow, adequate in view of #2 above. Check.
4) Old slow lifts and not too many people tracking out the powder? Check.

Driving in the faster road to the south bypasses the town of Los Alamos but does goes through the federal research lab, where you stop at a checkpoint and show ID. The security guard said no pictures but we couldn’t resist this road sign.
IMG_5930a.jpg


We got up there just after 9AM and the small upper parking area of maybe 50 cars was almost full. Lift tickets during “Super Spring Season” were $39 adult and $29 senior, a good deal even by Euro standards.

I found this sign on the lodge deck quite interesting.
IMG_1230a.JPG

The 1941 patented tow rope gripper sure looks like the infamous New Zealand nutcracker, but perhaps it was invented here first.

Pajarito stretches quite a distance along a north facing ridge with about 25 parallel trails served by four top to bottom lifts, all in the 1,100 vertical range. Only the Aspen lift (plus a beginner chair) near the day lodge and the Mother lift serving the looker’s right side of the mountain were running. The Spruce lift runs were accessible from Aspen.

Weather was, as a local New Mexican told us later, dynamic. It was mostly cloudy, but a few sunny breaks were enough in late March at this latitude to make the new snow heavy around noon. But that was before a short burst of graupel, then intense snowfall from 1-2 PM.

We first skied the obvious run under the Aspen chair.
IMG_1231.JPG


Next was the area under the Mother chair, broad enough for two powder laps.
IMG_1236.JPG


Then we pushed to the far skier’s left blue runs Why Not and One More Time. On the way there we pass four runs marked double black but they are only moderately steep on about the top third of vertical. We skied the least tracked one Sidewinder.
IMG_1238.JPG

Note the deadfall tree blocking nearly the entire width of the run. I can’t recall seeing as many inbounds deadfall trees before. When I bought my ticket I asked about the fire that damaged one of the closed lifts, and the answer was, “Which fire?” The Townsight lift was damaged in a 2011 fire and repaired by 2016, but an even bigger fire in 2000 destroyed 235 homes and some lab facilities in Los Alamos.

Deadfall trees are visible on a couple of our other powder runs.
IMG_1245.JPG

IMG_1250.JPG


We worked our way back to the Aspen lift, cutting diagonally through spaced trees between the more heavily skied cut runs between the two lifts. Then we traversed past the Spruce lift, hoping that the blue runs beyond might be overlooked. The last one Sundance still had plenty of room to make your own tracks past noon.
IMG_1259.JPG

IMG_1261.JPG

We got a bit of a sunny view here.

This snow was getting heavier so Liz went into the lodge for a break after a run in the more sheltered Porcupine Park trees.
I took two more runs on the Mother chair, mostly in the trees past the blue One More Time run to the far west.

I came into the lodge and we shared a Frito pie for lunch. Liz was willing to cooperate for my grand finale of the day. When I left the day lodge it was puking snow.
IMG_5935a.jpg


The catwalk from the top of Aspen past Spruce was already soft from the new snow, but of course it was not groomed any farther to the east. Fortunately I could see the top of the closed Townsight lift so I knew it was only a 2-3 minute slog to get over there.

As I skied the upper pitch the snow squall ended and the sun emerged again.
IMG_1268.JPG


View down from there :drool: :
IMG_1269.JPG


Looking back up from the bottom:
IMG_1271.JPG

Mine is one of only two tracks. I stayed skier’s right, which would have been more shaded from morning sun.
The bottom of the lift was maybe 50 feet from the road at 9,000 feet where Liz picked me up.

I skied 17,600 vertical, about 12K of powder, a jamesdeluxe day indeed.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 10222
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Pajarito, NM, Mar. 22, 2019

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Mar 26, 2019 5:41 am

Good to see that you made it to the Little Bird and had such a high percentage of powder runs. I'll take it as a compliment that you experienced a proper "jamesdeluxe day™." Coincidentally, yesterday on NY Ski Blog someone posted a report from Wengen that also referenced me, although I'm not sure if he was referring to finding heaps of low-angle untracked or my habit of posting dessert pix from mid-afternoon coffee breaks. Maybe both.

When recommending Pajarito, I think I mentioned the disclaimer that you might get bored with the almost exclusively intermediate terrain and the parallel trail layout (very similar to Belleayre in the Catskills); however, relaxed/untracked powder trumps those concerns in my book and apparently yours as well.

The only thing you seem to have missed compared to my visit ten years ago (the report thread includes a discussion of recent fires at/near the ski area) are the long-distance desert/mountain vistas on a clear day; however, you got plenty of that at Santa Fe. Rim Run on the far skier's left has a really nice view of the Valles Caldera.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3517
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: Pajarito, NM, Mar. 22, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:55 pm

Logistics of our road trip meant we were probably skiing Pajarito in any case Friday as we wanted to be in Santa Fe over the weekend to visit and ski with Michael Zeiler.

Pajarito is pitched somewhat similar to Snow Summit with similar vertical around 1,100 feet. But nearly all of Pajarito's 20+ runs utilize the full vertical vs. only four at Snow Summit. So Pajarito skis much bigger.

At any rate nearly everyone who has skied New Mexico says Pajarito is way better than Angel Fire, Sipapu and Red River, which are reputedly very flat.

I set a couple of milestones at Pajarito. It was my 239th ski area, and I've skied a record 16 new areas in 2018-19. I also passed the 200K of powder mark in one season for only the third time.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 10222
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Pajarito, NM, Mar. 22, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:35 pm

View of Pajarito Wednesday from the road north of Espanola:
IMG_1409a.JPG
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 10222
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Pajarito, NM, Mar. 22, 2019

Postby egieszl » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:01 am

Very cool report Tony.

The fire damage is extensive and in fact not only was Townsight Lift damaged and out of commission for a few years from the fire, but so was Spruce. They had to replace the haul rope, top terminal and carriers of Spruce. Also, Mother lift was damaged after the fact from a dead fall tree.
2018-19 ski season stats- Vertical: 1,328,039, Days: 55, Lift rides: 814, Top day vertical: 53,363;
Total past 12 seasons- Vertical: 14,120,078, Days: 557, Lift rides: 8,869, Top day vertical: 64,867;
egieszl
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:50 am
Location: Snowmass Village, CO


Return to Western North America

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 5 guests


All content herein copyright © 1999-2017 First Tracks!! Online Media

Forums Terms & Conditions of Use

cron