Pajarito: Little Bird Takes Flight
After suffering through a total bust of the 2005-06 season, Pajarito (Little Bird in Spanish) has stretched its wings and left its cage this winter. The little resort-that-could opened just before Christmas and has received decent snowfall since, keeping it in flight.
Pajarito is a little-known area, partly due to the fact that in its infancy, it was open only to residents of the “Atomic City,” Los Alamos, where the world’s first atom bombs were created in World War II. Set on National Forest Lands just outside the town, the area was forced by public outcry to eventually open its slopes to the general populace. Oddly, in a case of society moving in reverse, out-of-town visitors headed to ski this winter will once again have to pass through a security gate and screening, as Homeland Security has prompted the reactivation of the town’s long-dormant security perimeter. So far, checks are only running a few minutes on average…basically a look-see into vehicles. Trucks and RVs can expect a more thorough going-over.
What’s here when you arrive? The mountain has decent vertical—some 1400 feet—and some long bump runs, but in general, the pitch across the long single face does not vary widely, and there is nothing here that would approach a double black. Some of the old growth forest provides some nice tree skiing, when snow conditions permit. With a summit of only 10, 441 feet (low for the region), it only averages 135 inches. Mostly, this is a fine choice for intermediate skiers and boarders. The lifts are old and slow but the atmosphere and pace is relaxing. Combined with its rustic base lodge, you might feel you have stepped back a few decades.
Open only Fridays-Sundays (and federal holidays), it can dish up some tremendous powder on Fridays after a series of storms. And, as grooming and overall skier numbers are limited, pow can linger here for days—long after its been scrapped off at Santa Fe or Taos.