Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrollers at Aspen House. Photo by Eric Schaller
Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrol room seen from the foot of the mountain. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Skiers ascend Pajarito Mountain. Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrol has put comprehensive measure in place to keep visitors, staff and volunteers at the ski area safe during COVID-19. Photo by JoAnna O’Neill
PAJARITO MOUNTAIN NEWS
Pajarito Ski Patrol are accustomed to encountering challenges at Pajarito Mountain. From unpredictable weather to slick slopes, the patrol takes most challenges in stride. Not, however, when it came to handling COVID-19. When the obstacles arose related to emergency response during the pandemic, the patrol rose to the considerable challenge.
The group, composed of 70 volunteers and a handful of paid patrollers, began meeting in early summer 2020 to plan for the changes necessary to patrol safely. The group consulted with longtime patroller Dr. Robert McClees, Medical Director of the Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrol and owner of Trinity Urgent Care to discuss COVID preparations.
“It’s been a tremendous team effort,” said paid Ski Patrol Supervisor Eric Schaller, who also serves as a researcher with UNM Hospital. “We put together some comprehensive protocols to protect our patrollers and guests.”
A scene from Pajarito Mountain Aspen lift this week. Photo by JoAnna O’Neill
The team reconfigured the Aspen House, patrol headquarters to separate people. They also began collecting PPE and developed a tiered system for its use, reserving precious N95 masks to treat symptomatic patients.
“Having this plan in place and putting the safety of our patrollers and the patients first has been paramount,” Schaller said. “It’s been a yeoman’s task, and I’m extremely proud of the collaboration of our entire team.”
With about half of the season already through, Schaller is adamant about the public’s compliance with the public health orders regarding masks and social distancing.
“People need to understand that it’s a requirement for us to have a season. Just wear the mask. All the time — and keep your distance from those not in your party,” he said.
Pajarito Mountain is observing COVID-19 precautions, outlined here.
- Face coverings are required in public settings except when eating, drinking, or exercising. This includes in line for the lift;
- Guests should wash hands often and sanitize between activities;
- Guests should practice physical distancing and maintain 6 feet of distance around other guests whenever possible;
- Pajarito is performing additional maintenance and sanitization within our facilities; and
- Employees will be wearing face masks.
About Pajarito Mountain Ski Area
Located in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and 30 minutes northwest of Santa Fe, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area offers 41 trails, 6 lifts and two terrain parks, all located on 751 acres on the eastern edge of the Jemez Mountains. Known for its spectacular views of the Rio Grande Valley and the Valles Caldera National Preserve, the ski area was founded and developed in the late 1950s by the Los Alamos Ski Club. The fall line and bump runs are heralded as some of the best in the state, and the mountain offers a ski school, restaurant, and ski rental facility. During the summer season, Pajarito Mountain is home to an extensive mountain biking trail system with lift served access and hosts several New Mexico Brewers Festivals throughout the summer. Pajarito is the closest resort to the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, visit www.Pajarito.ski.