Ski Santa Fe and the Taos Ski Valley have put season passes up for sale, although the opening of New Mexico’s ski mountains still hangs in the balance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ski areas have been advised that while they may proceed with preparations for the ski season, opening to the public in November will be dependent on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Mexico,” said Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office. “The state is actively working with Ski New Mexico to finalize COVID-safe practice for ski areas, but again, any potential opening will depend on the level of danger posed by the ongoing pandemic.”
After setting a single-day high of 488 coronavirus cases Friday, the state reported another 486 cases Saturday.
Sackett added any potential reopening of ski areas will require operating at 25 percent of maximum occupancy capacity. Taos Ski Valley announced season passes are on sale for $1,600, which is $350 more than last year, as well as Monday-through-Thursday passes for $450 and Monday-through-Friday passes for $695.
Ashley Ortiz, a 29-year-old medical laboratory scientist at Holy Cross Hospital in Taos with an unpredictable work schedule, said the high price of the season pass and uncertainty of access has her thinking about driving south to Santa Fe.
“That season pass is just not worth that price if you don’t know the future, which is hard because I want to ski. I think a lot of us have been impacted mentally because we’ve missed out on activities we love,” Ortiz said. “I like that Santa Fe is offering the chance to pay based on your availability. You can be more sure you’re buying something that won’t go to waste.”
On Monday, Ski Santa Fe will put 1,200 OnePass season passes up for sale for $149, which include 10 blackout days around holidays, as well as 700 OnePass Max season passes, which don’t have blackout days, for $249. After purchasing one of those passes, day reservations will be available for between $5 and $30 depending on age and times used.
Ski Santa Fe says it hopes the 1,900 passes meets demand. There will be discounts for weekday-only passes and single-day lift tickets will still be available to those without a season pass.
“The COVID-safe practices for ski areas are nearly in their final form, and we have an understanding that there is a path to winter,” Ski Santa Fe General Manager Ben Abruzzo said. “Our goal is to provide a pass that has a low up front cost, direct to lift access, and an inexpensive ‘pay as you go’ daily activation fee that reserves your spot on the mountain.”
George Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit trade organization Ski New Mexico, said ski mountains need to sell passes ahead of the season to fund operations.
“With a ski area, you have so many things that you have to do to reopen,” Brooks said “By allowing us to sell passes, it allows us to turn that light switch on.”
Pajarito Mountain Ski Area near Los Alamos and Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort near Vadito are also selling passes. The state’s other ski areas — Red River, Angel Fire, Ski Apache and Sandia Peak — have yet to announce plans for this winter.