JROMC Presents Free Lecture ‘It’s All Downhill: A Brief History Of Skiing At Los Alamos’ Monday Evening At SALA

Limon Perrot, Robert Carter, Enrico Fermi and David Inglis skiing at Sawyer’s Hill. Photo courtesy Los Alamos Historical Society


Please join us for a free lecture on the history of skiing in the Jemez Mountains by George Lawrence, past President of the Los Alamos Ski Club, on Monday, Oct. 2, beginning at 7:30 pm at the SALA Event Center, 2551 Central Ave, Los Alamos. This talk is presented by the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee and co-sponsored by the Los Alamos snowboarding and mountain biking racing teams.

The presentation will trace the history of skiing in Los Alamos from the Ranch School programs through the development of Sawyer’s Hill during the 1940s and 1950s, and then through five decades of dedicated Ski-Club volunteer effort that created Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, a family-friendly, five-chairlift facility that provides first-class winter recreation for Los Alamos residents and visitors, just a few miles from town. The story continues with the struggle to maintain operations at Pajarito in the 2000s and early 2010s in the face of diminished snowfalls, major wildfire damage, and declining revenues. It finishes with the attempt to turn things around with the introduction of snowmaking and ultimately the transfer of the Ski Area in 2014 to a private partnership based in Durango, CO. 

This partnership has kept Pajarito going, at a financial loss most years, has made some limited improvements, and has worked with Los Alamos County toward construction of a high-throughput, all-season water pipeline that will provide reliable snowmaking, as well as improved wildfire suppression capability. Once in operation, this water supply will enable early season (pre-Christmas) opening every winter, greatly expanded snowmaking capability, and capital development that may dramatically transform Pajarito and bring it into the modern era.

About the Speaker:
George Lawrence is a long-time resident of Los Alamos, a retired LANL project physicist who led some advanced particle-accelerator-technology efforts in a 37-year career at the Lab. He was first on skis (with wretched equipment) during college and grad school, but did not really take up skiing (with better equipment) until the early 1970s at Pajarito, being drafted into the activity by his wife’s family (the Sydoriaks). He is now an enthusiastic senior skier (on excellent equipment), and skis as many days as possible each winter at Pajarito, Ski Santa Fe, Sipapu, Taos, Wolf Creek, Monarch, Purgatory, Snowmass, and any other New Mexico or Colorado ski areas that offer reduced rates for age or even free super-senior lift tickets. He was on the Los Alamos Ski Club Board of Directors for ten years in the 2000s and early 2010s, was President of the Ski Club in 2006 – 07, and played a major role in bringing Pajarito’s introductory snowmaking system into existence. He maintains a strong interest in the water pipeline project, and stays in close touch with Pajarito Mountain managers and Los Alamos County Utilities managers who are driving the action.

The J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee is dedicated to honoring the memory of Oppenheimer and his significant contributions to Los Alamos, the Nation, and the World. Please go to JROMC.org for more information about our activities.