It’s been quite a couple of years for [R309R, Pajarito Mountain], but the non-profit resort above Los Alamos, N.M., has persevered and opened for the 2011-2012 season.

Two years ago, mountain management was all set to install the resort’s first snowmaking system. Lines went in and guns were set up – all to work off a 10 million-gallon reservoir on the top of the mountain. Then, a cornice broke loose, floated across the reservoir and blew up the outlet pipe. The mountain didn’t open until February, and then closed down for most of the season. Subsequently, a summer of meager runoff followed, meaning there isn’t enough water stored to fire up the system.

Worse, however, was the damage from the massive La Concha wildfire. Burning more than 100,000 acres last June, the fire came over the ridge and into Pajarito. Both the Townsight and Spruce chairlifts suffered severe damage, and neither will open this season.

Regardless, Pajarito opened Dec. 17, thanks to several storms that rolled across northern New Mexico. Other than Christmas Day, management says they hope to have a full season, with lifts running Fridays through Sundays and on holidays. The remaining lifts – Mother, Aspen and Beginner – serve the majority of the mountain. Only the blue runs off Townsight will be closed off.

There’s been a tow on Pajarito Mountain since 1944, when the U.S. Army first hatched plans to build the Los Alamos nuclear weapon labs. It is now run by the Los Alamos Ski Club, which has a membership of 2,000-3,000 who live and work in the Los Alamos area. The mountain is open to the public.

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