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Ski Apache Opens New Season With New Amenities, Events

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It’s time to hit the slopes and Ski Apache in Mescalero, New Mexico, opened for its 51st year on Sierra Blanca on Friday, December 14, with a new high and promise to make this winter more fun and memorable to visitors.

Ski Apache, owned by the Mescalero Apache Tribe, said three new lifts and a brand new Doppelmayr Gondola are available to visitors this season. New events and the return of popular events are expected to entice skiers to the mountain.

"During the 2011-2012 season, more than 130,000 people visited Ski Apache, and we look forward to seeing that number continue to climb with the addition of these new lifts,” said Frederick Chino Sr, president of the Mescalero Apache Tribe in a season update.

"The new gondola will carry nearly 2,000 skiers and snowboarders up the ski resort per hour and two new Doppelmayr chair lifts, one triple and one quad, will help Ski Apache achieve the highest lift capacity in the state, with another 3,600 guests ascending the mountain per hour,” said the update.

Frizzell Frizzell Jr., chief operating officer for Ski Apache, Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino and Casino Apache Travel Center, said last year was a record-breaking year on the mountain and he expects another strong season with the added investments.

Sisters on Snow at Ski Apache

"The new chair lifts and gondola will reduce lines and will give our guests the ability to spend more time skiing and snowboarding and less time waiting for a chair lift,” he added.

The investment—some $15 million on the chair lifts—is significant for the tribe in light of the destruction caused by the Little Bear Fire in June. 

"We are happy to invest in something that has proven such a valuable asset not just to the tribe but to the surrounding communities as well, particularly considering the effects on the region from the Little Bear Fire,” said Chino, Sr.

He said the investment will not only expand the capacity of Ski Apache for winter visitors but it will also enhance its summer recreation offerings with mountain biking and hiking.

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"This considerable enhancement allows us to attract visitors to the area throughout the year. The Tribe recognizes the economic impact Ski Apache has on our neighbors and we are happy to make the investment to continue to grow our local economy.”

Ski Apache, two hours north of El Paso, Texas, is situated in the mountains of Mescalero, resting at 11,500 feet with a vertical drop of 1,900 feet. Fifty-five trails, served by 11 lifts cater to skiers of all levels.

The destination slopes offer a mix of wide beginner slopes, tough bump runs, a huge bowl, nice cruising runs and a terrain park with jumps, tubes and rails.

New events this season include Sisters on Snow, which appeals to women looking to improve slope-side skills from intensive instruction and the Big Mountain Challenge for two-person teams of intermediate skiers and boarders, with prizes to be given to the top six finishers.

Shamrock Relay at Ski Apache

Returning this season are Torch Light Parade and Fireworks, Music on the Mountain and terrain park competitions, which tests participants skills and athletic ability.

Also on the schedule of activities is the Dummy Gelunde Downhill Race, where teams of one or three people construct snow-riding dummies attached to a pair of skis or a snowboard and launch the handmade contraptions over a giant on-snow jump.

Ski Apache is open every day of the week. Regular season passes vary depending on the number of days on the slope. For instance, any lift-one day pass is $55 for adult; $46 for teen; $35 for a child; 12 years and under; $48 for senior ages 60-69; $44 for military; and $30 for military child.

Ski season passes range from $230 to $600. Tubing prices range from $7 to 19, with discounts for those who purchased lift tickets.

For those who want to take a break from the white powder, Ski Apache—the first ski resort in the country to offer gaming slope side—has 12 slot machines located on the second floor of its Elk Lodge.

There are seven dining options for visitors, which include cafeterias and snack bars. The nearby Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino, also owned by the tribe, offers a shuttle service to the Ski Apache, as well as room accommodations and entertainment.