For the first time in the 51-year history of Taos Ski Valley, the resort will welcome snowboarders.
by Lauren Traub Teton
This bold and unprecedented move takes a bit of wind out of the sails of the Burton campaign to poach, on film the 4 skier-only mountains left in the US. (see our last posting.)
We applaud this decision and look forward to riding Taos as soon as possible. It's a step for harmony and inclusiveness in the world instead of the "them and us" attitude that divides the people of the earth and leads to alienation, discord, and war.
Taos chalks up the decision to keeping families together, when so many families now contain snowboarders who would not have been welcomed at Taos. Surely economics were a consideration too, but since Taos is truly a family-owned and operated resort with four generations of Blakes in charge, we believe that they believe in family. Viva Taos, Viva the Family! The family that rides or skis together is a pretty healthy family!
Here is the ground-shaking quote from today on the Ride Taos website:
"For a long time the discussion has been more focused on when we would open, and we feel like now is the right time. Taos has a long-standing tradition of being family oriented, and now with so many young people snowboarding, we are turning away more and more families, particularly families that traditionally come to Taos. Opening to snowboarding allows us to refocus on being a family oriented mountain.
Additionally, as Taos Ski Valley, Inc. began to consider expansion and it's base area redevelopment plan, it was clear that the "snowboarding question" would have to be given real consideration. It was determined by the Blake family and administrative staff that snowboarding would become an intrical part of Taos Ski Valley's future. We look forward to sharing our storied resort with this brand new audience."
(from a letter to the media)
We are pleased to make you one of the first to be know that Taos Ski Valley will open to snowboarding beginning March 19, 2008.
There will be events and festivities to kick off this new era during the final 2 ½ weeks of the season (more details to come). We’ll plan to spend the summer addressing any issues that arise and continuing to prepare our facilities and staff to take care of both our new guests and our long time friends. We’re committed to attending to all of our guests in the personal manner that TSV is known for, and which the Blake family is committed to preserving.
Taos Ski Valley History Facts:
In the early 1950's Ernie and Rhoda Blake were living with their children in Santa Fe where Ernie was managing the brand new Santa Fe Ski Basin. As part of his job Ernie would fly his Cessna 170 into Southern Colorado to work at Santa Fe's sister ski area, Glenwood Springs. His dream was to have a ski resort of his own, so as he flew he searched for a place where he could begin building his vision. Eventually, he found an ideal spot, "the big snow basin north of Wheeler Peak in La Cal Basin. There was a tremendous snow basin...I thought it was an optical illusion." (Ernie Blake, Ski Pioneers)
After finding the perfect spot, Ernie moved his family to Taos Ski Valley in 1955. From a camper in the base area where they lived, the Blakes began to build what is now a world-class ski resort. The following are a few facts and stories about how TSV grew and about the people and experiences which give Taos Ski Valley its individual character.
Taos Ski Valley History Facts:
* The first lift was a Bridger-Boseman J-Bar which was installed in the fall of 1956 by Ernie, sixteen men from Taos Pueblo, and a mule named Lightening. After one day of dragging lift and tower parts through the snow up what is now Al's Run, Lightening quit.
* Rancher Chilton Anderson, after 37 years of service, retired from the Ernie Blake Ski School at the close of last season. Chilton, hired in 1956, is extremely tall and was in charge of lifting the cable back on to the towers when it would fall off, which it did regularly.
* The only run down the mountain in 1956 - 57 was what is now Snakedance.
* In fall of 1957 a Poma (platter) lift went up Al's Run and ended where Tower 8 of Lift One is now. The lift pulled passengers along the ground at twice the speed of a modern lift. People would ski down around the lift riders because the run was so narrow. Small people were lifted completely off the ground in certain spots and hung spinning in the air.
* The first rental fleet was purchased from the army at Camp Hale when the base there was closed. The skis sold for $1 per ski and had holes in the tips through which a rope could be strung so the skis could be used as a sled. Rhoda was in charge of mounting bindings on all the skis because Ernie wasn't handy with mechanical objects.
* Many of the original staff of Taos Ski Valley, from Jean Mayer (the technical director of the Ernie Blake Ski School who came to TSV in 1958) to Walter Ruegg (the head of lift maintenance since 1967), still work on the mountain. Look for them as well as four generations of Blakes working and playing on the slopes.
* TSV remains one of the few family owned and operated ski resorts in North America. To this day it is still run by the founders' children and grandchildren. Because of this long tradition of family, no other ski resort can make you feel as welcome.