Ski Apache opened in 1961 under the original name of Sierra Blanca Ski Area. It was the brainchild and inspiration of oil mogul Robert O. Anderson. He sold the ski area after just two seasons. The tribe has maintained ownership for almost 50 years.
Ski Apache, the United States’ southernmost ski area known for epic warm-weather skiing and unbelievable views of the surrounding Lincoln National Forest, returns for its 51st year on Sierra Blanca with three new chair lifts for the 2012 season. The new season boasts a brand new Doppelmayr Gondola. Home to the first and only passenger gondola in the state of New Mexico, the new eight-passenger Gondola climbs 1,646 feet to the mountain’s peak in just eight minutes, almost twice as fast as its predecessor. The 2012-2013 ski season is anticipated to open Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 22, and season passes are on sale now.
As the new gondola carries nearly 2,000 skiers and snowboarders up the ski resort per hour, two new Doppelmayr chair lifts, one triple and one quad, help Ski Apache achieve the highest lift capacity in the state with another 3,600 guests ascending the mountain per hour. Combined with its already immense snowmaking capabilities and an annual snowfall over 180 inches, Ski Apache is prepared to serve up another memorable winter to visitors from throughout the region.
“We are happy to invest in something that has proven such a valuable asset not just to the tribe but to the surrounding communities as well, particularly considering the effects on the region from the Little Bear Fire,” said The President of the Mescalero Apache Tribe Frederick Chino Sr. “During the 2011-2012 season, more than 130,000 people visited Ski Apache, and we look forward to seeing that number continue to climb with the addition of these new lifts. Not only do they expand our capacity for winter visitors but the new Gondola also enhances our summer recreation offerings with mountain biking and hiking. This considerable enhancement allows us to attract visitors to the area throughout the year. The Tribe recognizes the economic impact Ski Apache has on our neighbors and we are happy to make the investment to continue to grow our local economy.”
The Mescalero Apache Tribe has dedicated $15 million to the new chair lifts, and continues its ongoing commitment to such popular events as the Dummy Gelunde, Warren Miller movie premiere, Sisters on Snow, and terrain park competitions.
“We are proud of the investment our Tribe has made in Ski Apache for the upcoming season,” said Frizzell Frizzell Jr., chief operating officer for Ski Apache, Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino and Casino Apache Travel Center. “Last year was a record-breaking year on the mountain and the effects of the Little Bear Fire will not stop us from having another strong season. The new chair lifts and gondola will reduce lines and will give our guests the ability to spend more time skiing and snowboarding and less time waiting for a chair lift.”
Adding to the new amenities at Ski Apache, favorite events including the Torchlight Parade, Music on the Mountain, terrain park competitions, and the Dummy Gelunde Downhill Race return to the mountain, creating a winter wonderland full of fun and entertainment. New events for the 2013 season include Sisters on Snow, which appeals to women looking to improve slope-side skills from intensive instruction, and the Big Mountain Challenge for two-person teams of intermediate skiers and boarders, with prizes to the top six finishers.
Ski Apache is located in Mescalero, N.M. just 85 miles southwest of Roswell and two hours north of El Paso, Texas. Situated high in the picturesque mountains of Mescalero and resting at 11,500 feet with a vertical drop of 1,900 feet, Ski Apache’s dry, arid climate makes for optimal snow conditions for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Fifty-five trails are served by 11 lifts, including New Mexico’s only gondola. After a full day on the slopes, skiers can visit the main ski lodge for an afternoon snack, play a hand of poker at one of 12 video poker machines, or head down the mountain to the resort’s award-winning accommodations at Inn of the Mountain Gods. Featuring both fine and casual dining options, a sports bar, live entertainment, indoor pool, hot tub, and saunas, the Inn is a welcome retreat for skiers looking to rejuvenate.
Starting Thanksgiving Day the mountain is open seven days per week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All lifts and the gondola will be open by Christmas 2012 along with Ski Apache’s two terrain parks featuring five standard and one rainbow box, three flat rails, one battleship rail, one flat-down-flat rail and one A-frame rail. Lift tickets are $54 for adults, $47 for seniors (60 years and older), $43 for military personnel, $45 for teens (13-17 years) and $34 for children under 13. Group ticket discounts are also available in addition to individual ski and snowboard equipment rentals, $20 for adults and $12 for children. Lifts run daily including holidays and more than 100 instructors are available for lessons, along with Flaik GPS systems making it possible to locate children and guests on the mountain in real time, while also providing a chance to track the day on the mountain, recording information such as lifts used and runs explored.