Every year, the first day of ski season is one of the most exciting days for a lot of mountain folks. This year was no different, albeit a great deal whiter than Opening Day last year given that we had a solid snow base for first chair at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Add to that the sheer joy of riding up Taos Ski Valley's
brand-new, high-speed quad that cut the time from base to top nearly in half and we can happily report that the only blues we saw on Opening Day 2018/2019 were the skies and intermediate runs!
Whether you live in the mountains, or planned your trip
from elsewhere months ago, this is a day to look forward to all summer. The excitement really kicks in when the first snowflakes (which we've seen a lot of already this year!) begin falling in autumn, and continues until you slide off of the lift for your first ride of the season.
Nowadays, wherever you are—whether in the heart of Texas; out in Iowa or Oklahoma; elsewhere nationally or internationally; or right here in Taos—with a few clicks you can open the Taos Ski Vally resort's webcams
for a live update. Webcam traffic was high this year, for good reason; this isn't a typical season for our beloved mountain. The last several years have brought an a renaissance at Taos Ski Valley
including the creation of an environmentally friendly (LEED Silver certified), luxury hotel at the base, The Blake
. This season, the slow but steady old Chair 1 was replaced with a high-speed spinner and the two-seater from the earliest ski valley days—Chair 5—was brought down in order to place the new lift in line to drop skiers at 5's original drop off, higher uphill. This was one of the resort’s most anticipated projects. Seeing a sea of smiles on Opening Day confirms its success and that the future is bright, because the skiing and riding experience at Taos just went through the roof!
The new Chair 1 rising up over Al's Run is a sight to behold. It's still the same mountain, but it looks a little bit newer, a little more modern, a little... better.
If you were on the hill on November 22, you would have felt excitement growing throughout the morning as the first daylight showed over Wheeler Peak
(the tallest peak in New Mexico), the snowcat made its finishing touches on the groomers, and a few skiers began showing up on the heels of dawn to wait for their first ride up on the new lift. Some hard-core shredders even camped out to be among the first riders, a testament to their passion for skiing in true Taos style.
Despite the early hour, and the fact that the mountain was still waking up, as soon as Black Diamond Espresso
opened its window the line quickly grew with eager skiers and riders talking about the resort's new look and how awesome it was to have the first high-speed lift at Taos. By 8:45 a.m., the line for hot beverages and snacks was 20-people deep. Others sought hot food to fortify them for the day inside Tenderfoot Katie's Fresh Market
, Café Naranja
, Bumps Market & Burrito Bar
, and elsehwere in the village.
Earlier this summer, #SkiTheChange
began popping up in social media posts about Taos, alerting outdoor lovers to all the upgrades at the ski valley. As the new lift began turning, and the friendly Guest Services crew started scanning tickets, the realization that we're experiencing the beginning of a new era at Taos Ski Valley really set in. This ski area was built on a passion for skiing brought over from Europe by Ernie Blake
and his wife Rhoda, who knew the value of living in the Alps and raising their family in the mountains surrounded by nature and beauty. They ultimately styled the ski valley
after warm, charming, and intimate European ski villages, bringing European sensibilities stateside and making this lifestyle available for more people to experience. We believe Ernie would be stoked to see the new lift bringing folks up the mountain efficiently and easily, so that they, too, can enjoy sliding down the slopes on some of the best snow in the Southern Rockies
. And the base area buzzing with energy and vibrancy—colorful personalities everywhere—would surely bring a smile to his face!
The Blakes built a lasting legacy that would encourage many thousands of visitors, some of them new skiers, to pursue sliding downhill in the best possible form (thanks to the resort’s great snowsports school
) and maybe even live the mountain life
of which they’d dreamed full-time. Now, the technology exists to compliment these dreams; modern skis and snowboards
coupled with a brand new lift are a stellar combination.
And that's only part of it. The social aspects of the sport bring people together (around the fireplace at the Blonde Bear Tavern
and other village watering spots
) to compliment each others' new gear, chat about shredding goals, and bond over much more including a shared sense of adventure. The adventures continue long after the lifts close and the sun sets, with lifelong friendships budding over aprés-ski beverages at the Stray Dog Cantina
, live music throughout the season at the Hotel St. Bernard
, and a wide range of other restaurants in Arroyo Seco and the Town of Taos
. All of this lays the foundation for a culture and community that welcomes everyone to be herself/himself.
The ski resort’s recent changes made for a unique and incredible opening day. Everyone who was there —plus those who sent their love via social media messages and pictures—added to that joyful mix. The snow was great thanks to Taos Ski Valley Inc.’s amazing snowmaking crew as well as to Mother Nature which sent a few good storms during November to help them get Whitefeather and Powderhorn covered in time.
Now, a week after Chair 1’s grand debut, things have settled down a bit as we prepare for the next storm cycle
and many awesome powder days ahead! We hope to see you on the slopes this season. Keep doing your snowdance (because it's working!) and make sure to make plans to visit the new-and-improved Taos Ski Valley