Friday, September 9, 2011

Grooming is a go on Sandia Peak!!!!!!!!

from Ron McCurley:
Clay et al, Southwest Nordic ski club members, and other interested skinny skiers;
This morning, I, Fredrik Landstedt, and Rich Besser met with the USFS to discuss x-c skiing in the Sandias, particularly at Ellis and surrounding trails. The barrage of e-mails (40-50) that they received supporting groomed trails up there obviously made an impression on them. They agreed to a need for groomed trails up there and to support the effort to make it happen! I was pleasantly surprised. We have a meeting now scheduled on October 18th (1 pm) to meet up at Ellis and walk the trails we want to groom so Fredrik can point out to them improvements that may be made to make grooming more feasible and skiing safer and more enjoyable.
So the e-mails all of you took the time to write paid off big time. Thank you all for your support. If I missed anyone on the cc above please forward this to them as well.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A few letters of support for grooming on Sandia Peak.

Quite a few people wrote in their support to USFS on this matter and some didnt mind it getting published here. We thought it would be informational and interesting as well as useful in the future when questions about grooming and its uses come up.
Sir, I am Norm Vance of Pagosa Springs,Co. I have groomed nordic trails on the Pagosa Ranger District for a quarter of a century. You are currently hearing arguments for and against grooming nordic trails. I have found the folks mostly against grooming are the purist, or consider themselves the purist, of the sport. Most of them are in very good physical shape. They also can be loud and speak often defending their ideal of the sport. The last attribute they harbor is not being very thoughtful of their fellow skiers who may not be in perfect shape or as dedicated, they forget they were novices once. There should be space for novices and casual skiers and a groomed trail is it.
I found some of the purist skiers were won over when they realized they could use the groomed trail get to new places for breaking trial cross country. Some learned to enjoy the groomed trails for ski skating, not possible on ungroomed snow. Some will never be won over and they will bitch about it as they ski down the groomed trail!
Here in Pagosa we now have a club with its own grooming equipment and a network of five major groomed trails. The Forest Service has been very helpful with permissions, new signs, trail work and they groom one of the trails all winter with Forest Service equipment and employees. Nordic skiing along with snowshoeing has grown rapidly and is now a strong part of our winter economy.
I know the swnordicski people as they come here for skiing. They seem to be good and dedicated people. I have no axe to grind either way, I have never stood on skis.
Norm Vance, Editor - member Town Tourism Committee - Director, Tourism Ambassador Program
Hello all,
I would like to place a strong recommendation in favor of adding groomed trails to the Albuquerque ski area, in addition to existing backcountry trails. My reasons are as follows:

1. Groomed trails make cross country skiing more accessible to those new to the sport. They are easier than backcountry trails to navigate, and require less expensive equipment (e.g. skis with no metal edge, lighter boots, for example).

2. Groomed trails are safer for more groups, by providing a combination of flat surface and ski-grooved areas. Newbies can learn in the grooves then graduate to flat surface skate skiing or back country skiing.

3. Groomed trails provide an excellent source of winter fitness and fun for those who do not downhill ski.

4. Skate skiing and cross country skiing is becoming more and more popular, and is a strong sports tourism attraction for a community. Canmore, Canada, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Leadville, Colorado all have excellent groomed groove and skate as well as cross country trail systems, among many other communities.

5. Cross country skiing on groomed trails is attracting aging baby boomers who want a safe, winter outdoors experience, without the risks of downhill skiing ( I am one of them!). this is a large demographic to be served.
Los Alamos benefits greatly from our groomed skiing opportunities. Our local ski club takes care of the grooming in cooperation with the Forest Service, a great model for other communities.
I hope that these points will encourage the Forest Service to include groomed skiing in the Albuquerque area. It would be a great addition to the community.

Thank you for your consideration.
Jeri Sullivan
As a member of the SouthWest Nordic Ski Club (SWNSC), I am writing in support of the proposal put forth by the UNM ski coach and others, which is strongly supported by SWNSC, to provide additional groomed ski trails (both skate and classic) in Northern New Mexico (NNM). We certainly have plenty of wilderness hiking trails in NNM, and my wife and I take advantage of these to hike in the summer and snowshoe in the winter. Also, I have gone on many backcountry ski trips to the high country using these trails. What we don't have very much of in NNM is groomed trails, which are favored by a growing population of sports enthusiasts who like to test themselves in fast-ski conditions, which require grooming. Right now, for this activity, I essentially use only the groomed nordic trails on Pajarito Mountain, near Los Alamos. Building additional trails in the Jemez and the Sandias would make the sport available to a larger population; and, if the number of participants grows as expected, it would provide commercial opportunities for additional shops to sell the particular ski gear used in this sport. The added economic boost would certainly be welcomed in this bleak economy.
Thank you for considering my views on this proposal.
Mario Schillaci

To Groom or Not To Groom (Sandia Peak)

Thanks to everyone who has written or called in to support groomed trail option on Sandia Peak! The meeting with USFS is tomorrow (Fri Sept 9th), so you can still call in or email today, tonight, tomorrow! Nothing long is necessary, just a quick "please groom!" email or vmail will help out!
Cid Morgan  (she is the district manager, will not be in meeting)
Wood, Kerry, (will be in meeting on this)
Heiar, Robert (will be in meeting on this)
Kerry Wood 505-281-3304 ext 107
Cid Morgan 505-281-3304 ext 117 (she is the district manager)
Below is the message sent in by SWNSC president, its a good one. I have a few more good ones I would like to post but am waiting to get authors' approvals :)


I am writing in regards to the debate over groomed cross-country skiing at the Nordic trails at Sandia Peak -- i.e. the "Service Road," the "Meadow Trail," and that lower trail that parallels the Service Road. I am, of course, writing in strong favor for winter trail grooming, for several reasons.

Currently, I serve as the chairman of the Southwest Nordic Ski Club, which now "serves" all of Northern New Mexico. We are a 501c3 organization that has been in existence for about 30 years. The club was officially created as a "junior" Nordic ski club in Los Alamos, but expanded to meet the demand of all Nordic skiers in and around Los Alamos. We are now the largest and most active ski club in the state. Our mission, as it has always been, is to promote all forms of Nordic skiing and snowshoeing, including back-country skiing and groomed trail skiing. We have worked very closely with the Espanola Ranger District (SFNF- through a Volunteer Cost-Share Agreement) for many years to develop a wonderful trail system that provides a safe and fun venue for groomed skiing (both skate and classical style). Additionally, we have developed wonderful snowshoe corridors and open meadow routes. The groomed trail system is adjacent to, and also serves as a portal to the various back-country skiing areas.

We promote all forms of Nordic skiing and hold clinics to any and all comers during the ski season. Our clinics draw many people from the various forms of xc skiing. The principles of Nordic skiing are common among the various forms. Our groomed trail system provides a consistent and safe opportunity for all xc skiers throughout the winter, even when conditions are unsafe for back-country skiing. Because of these opportunities, primarily the groomed trail system, our much smaller community draws FAR more xc skiers at any given time than the Sandia xc ski trails located very close to the Albuquerque metro!

It is quite conspicuous that large user groups (senior citizens groups, charter schools, clubs, etc.) from Albuquerque choose to make the 100 mile trek over skiing at Sandia. We have taken a trail user poll (twice) and on both occasions, the majority of our trail users came from Albuquerque! While we love the support that these Albuquerque trail users give to us, it is a bit sad that they have to drive all this way when there is a potential for a great venue right there in their back yard. We hear many complaints about the lack of quality on the Sandia xc ski trails, including for back-country skiing.

I myself have skied up at Sandia for many years and have noticed the general degradation of quality xc skiing over the years. I was actually introduced to Nordic skiing by a Norwegian on the UNM cross country ski team. The team once held many clinics at Sandia to introduce people to the sport and put back into the local xc skiing community. That motivated me to take the xc ski class at UNM, which was taught by the venerable Klaus Weber. Klaus is a "New Mexico" skiing legend who has taught many people, from all walks of life, to cross-country ski. This would not have been possible without the groomed trails.

On any winter weekend during the 1980s and early half of the 1990s, there were literally scores of xc skiers, using all types of xc skis. The grooming was accomplished as a collaborative effort that included the UNM ski coach (Don Christman), Klaus Weber, some volunteers, and often by Louis Abruzzo (Sandia Peak Ski Area), who was also a skate skiing enthusiast and would no doubt lend a vote of support if asked to do so.

I also recall quite a number of skiers who would xc ski at night after work during the week because the groomed trail made that possible. Because of the unique nature of Sandia xc ski trails, I learned to back-country ski on very skinny in-track skis and learned to appreciate both every time I went skiing there. I now teach those very same skills and principles to the juniors and beginning adult skiers we introduce to Nordic skiing.

You're probably aware that Eskimos and Innuits have many words for the various types of snow. There's a good reason for that and in New Mexico, we tend to have some crazy and unpredictable snow conditions. Many times, we will receive a nice dump of snow, only to have it turn to mash potatoes in a matter of days. This creates a very unsafe situation for back-country skiing. It pretty much eliminates the possibility for off-track skiing for all but the most capable and daring back-country skier. It is a fact that grooming preserves snow and makes skiing far safer in such conditions.

Lastly, and certainly not least, one of the most remarkable things I witnessed during my college years spent xc skiing at Sandia Peak, was the opportunity of xc skiing afforded to people with disabilities. I had seen people on sit-skis at downhill ski areas, but never realized the opportunity exists for Nordic skiing as well. In fact, it is a large and popular recreational opportunity for wheelchair-bound skiers. It is also popular for amputees and other types of disabilities. Since that first encounter, I have been fortunate to meet many people with disabilities whose lives have been enriched by the ability to enjoy the winter through xc skiing. Most recently, I've met a 65 year blind old woman who participates regularly at both national and world master's events by following the sound of a guide who skis in front of her. This is just not possible without grooming.

I hope you will take these anecdotes and issues into consideration during the decision-making process. We are not asking that every single trail be groomed...far from it. Back-country skiing is also an essential part of the xc skiing experience. We are just hoping that there is consideration for striking a REAL balance and for bringing back the opportunity of groomed/tracked xc skiing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully yours,
Clay Moseley
Southwest Nordic Ski Club