Tram ascending rocky mountainside
Sanida Peak Ski Area won't open this season due to expected lack of snow and staffing shortages. (Photo: Alfred Gescheidt/Getty)
Outside Business Journal

For the Second Year in a Row, this New Mexico Ski Area Won’t Open

Lack of snow and resources have shuttered Sandia Peak Ski Area for another year

Tram ascending rocky mountainside
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Citing an expected La Niña winter and employment issues, Sandia Peak Ski Area announced that it won’t open for the 2022-2023 season, making this the second season in a row that the small ski area just east of Albuquerque won’t spin. General manager Ben Abruzzo told OBJ that even though ski operations would not commence this season, the profitable Sandia Aerial Peak Tramway and Ten3 restaurant would continue operations as normal. 

“Winters have become short to the point of absurd the past two years,” Abruzzo said of Sandia Ski Area. “They didn’t even start until the middle of January.”

In 1958, Abruzzo’s grandfather, the adventurer Ben L. Abruzzo, purchased the small ski area with a business partner. The Abruzzo family still owns the resort, along with Ski Santa Fe, which is scheduled to open as usual.

Sandia Ski Area is one of eight ski areas in New Mexico—the state’s lowest, with a base elevation of 8,678 feet. It’s nestled near the crest of the Sandia Mountains within the Cibola National Forest, topping out at 10,378 feet, with 1,700 feet of vertical. The resort has four lifts and 35 runs (mostly greens and blues), making it a convenient beginner mountain near New Mexico’s largest city—when there’s snow.

Abruzzo said lack of snow has caused the resort to lose money at an accelerating rate over the past several years. And shorter seasons due to climate change, compounded with COVID, have made it difficult to keep the area safely staffed when it is able to open.

“We continue to have trouble finding adequate staffing with all of the COVID issues, and it’s exacerbated when you can’t have a full four- or five-month season,” he said. “Not a lot of people want to come and work for just four weeks.”

The ski area operates through a special-use U.S. Forest Service permit that specifically stipulates it cannot remain closed indefinitely. Abruzzo said Sandia Peak Ski & Tram—the parent company that controls the resort, tram, and Ten3 restaurant—is looking at alternate permit options as its ski seasons become increasingly uncertain.

“We can’t make it snow,” Abruzzo said. “There’ve been a lot of changes and challenges we just can’t control.”

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Lead Photo: Alfred Gescheidt/Getty