Archive for October, 2013

Back by popular demand: Pajarito Adopt-A-Slope program.

October 30, 2013

Pajarito Mountain Ski Area was built by volunteers, and for 70 years volunteers have greatly supplemented the work done by paid staff for the non-profit Los Alamos Ski Club which owns and operates Pajarito Mountain.  The paid staff at Pajarito Mountain, especially in the off-season, is very lean and for the last few years they have been required to focus more on post-fire recovery and snow-making operations than on the continual maintenance of the slopes.  As a result of that and the Las Conchas Fire, the forest has started to encroach more than usual onto the ski runs.  Volunteers crews working all off-seImageason and organized work parties accomplish much, and are essential, but are organized more for logging and clearing dead and down trees.  We need a concentrated effort to clear the slopes ahead of the upcoming ski season (which will be glorious) and going forward.  For this reason, we’ve decided to reintroduce an Adopt-A-Slope Program.
Primarily, adopting a slope means taking responsibility for lopping the aspen shoots, locust and other woody plants and small trees that will otherwise stick up through the snow and be a hazard to skiing.  It also mean identifying other hazards—dangerously snagged trees, slash from logging operations, rocks—and reporting those hazards so they can be remediated.  It does not include unsupervised (by an authorized person) chain-sawing, rock-rolling, or other dangerous activities.  We’re asking people, families, groups of friends, companies and other organizations to pick a slope, or portion of a slope.  Some slopes require major maintenance and some very little (at this time).  Pick your favorite slope if available, but the major initial effort needs to focus on the east side of the Mountain (between East Confusion and Lone Spruce).  Please only adopt now if you can spend some time between now and when the snow flies.  Your work doesn’t have to be perfect and isn’t meant to substitute for the normal work required to operate a safe skiing operation.  Every little bit counts and 10 person-hours per slope will make a very significant impact.  This program is intended to supplement, and not replace or in any way discourage, other volunteer efforts or organized work parties, and other people may work on your adopted slope.  If your slope doesn’t require extensive maintenance, you can also help on slopes that do.  You can work during any daylight hours any day of the week before the season starts.  During business hours, a few loppers are available for borrowing at the Business Office (505 662 5725).  Obviously, there are inherent risks in working in an high altitude mountain environment on steep and irregular slopes.  Please don’t adopt-a-slope if not fit to hike up and down a mountain at high altitude.  Use good judgment and be mindful of others.
If you adopt-a-slope, you may put up a sign at the top of the slope, near the sign with the run’s name, that announces the adoption.  The sign should be not more than 18×24 inches, should complement our  “look & culture” as much as possible, be able to withstand the rigors of winter, and not be too overwhelming.  It’s possible that Pajarito Mountain staff might replace some signs to achieve some reasonable uniformity.  This part of the program is an experiment and we’re not sure how it will turn out, but the point is that, if you adopt a slope, and if you choose, your adopted slope can bear your name, your company’s or group’s name, etc.
Demands on  time have never been greater and there are far fewer volunteers working on Pajarito Mountain than in year’s past.  We want to reinvigorate the tradition, and believe the benefits will accrue not only to Pajarito Mountain, but to you and the community.
*             Community-Mindedness.  Pajarito Mountain is one of the true jewels of Los Alamos and is an important attraction for residents, potential residents and visitors, and an economic development driver for the County.  It needs volunteers to be successful.  This is an excellent opportunity to teach your family and kids community-mindedness.
*             Be part of the tradition.  Unpaid hero volunteers historically cut all of the runs, assembled and maintained the lift equipment, and build all of the improvements  (See Deanna Morgan Kirby’s “Just Crazy to Ski-a Fifty-Year History of Skiing at Los Alamos”, published by the Los Alamos Historical Society (2003) and
*             Volunteering outdoors will make you happier and healthier and give you a chance to release your inner Mountain Man or Mountain Woman.
*             It’s a beautiful fall pastime
*             You can do it in solitude or with friends, family or others that share your passion for skiing, outdoor recreation, and helping the community.
*             You can do it on your own time.
*             You can influence the shape and character of a slope.
*             You get to be involved in something you care about.
*             You’ll feel like you’ve earned your beverage.
For more information on the Adopt-a-Slope program, or to adopt a slope, email