History

HISTORY OF TAOS SKI VALLEY

Ernie and RhodaIn the early 1950's Ernie and Rhoda Blake were living with their children in Santa Fe where Ernie was managing the brand new Santa Fe Ski Basin. As part of his job Ernie would fly his Cessna 170 into Southern Colorado to work at Santa Fe's sister ski area, Glenwood Springs. His dream was to have a ski resort of his own, so as he flew he searched for a place where he could begin building his vision. Eventually, he found an ideal spot, "the big snow basin north of Wheeler Peak in La Cal Basin. There was a tremendous snow basin...I thought it was an optical illusion." (-Ernie Blake, Ski Pioneers)

After finding the perfect spot, Ernie moved his family to Taos Ski Valley in 1955. From a camper in the base area where they lived, the Blakes began to build what is now a world-class ski resort. The following are a few facts and stories about how TSV grew and about the people and experiences which give Taos Ski Valley its individual character.

Click here for more information on the history behind the trail names of Taos Ski Valley.


TAOS SKI VALLEY HISTORY FACTS

  • Taos Ski Valley was founded in 1954 by Ernie and Rhoda Blake. They lived in an eleven foot camper as there were no buildings in the area except an almost-completed Hondo Lodge (now the Inn at Snakedance). Even after they moved into the lodge, they lived without power until 1963.
     
  • The first lift was a Bridger-Boseman J-Bar which was installed in the fall of 1956 by Ernie, sixteen men from Taos Pueblo, and a mule named Lightening. After one day of dragging lift and tower parts through the snow up what is now Al's Run, Lightening quit.
     
  • The only run down the mountain in 1956 - 57 was what is now Snakedance
     
  • In fall of 1957 a Poma (platter) lift went up Al's Run and ended where Tower 8 of Lift One is now. The lift pulled passengers along the ground at twice the speed of a modern lift. People would ski down around the lift riders because the run was so narrow. Small people were lifted completely off the ground in certain spots and hung spinning in the air.
  • Rancher Chilton Anderson, after 37 years of service, retired from the Ernie Blake Ski School. Chilton, hired in 1956, is extremely tall and was in charge of lifting the cable back on to the towers when it would fall off, which it did regularly.
  • The first rental fleet was purchased from the army at Camp Hale when the base there was closed. The skis sold for $1 per ski and had holes in the tips through which a rope could be strung so the skis could be used as a sled. Rhoda was in charge of mounting bindings on all the skis because Ernie wasn't handy with mechanical objects.
     
  • Many of the original staff of Taos Ski Valley, from Jean Mayer (the technical director of the Ernie Blake Ski School who came to TSV in 1958) to Walter Ruegg (the head of lift maintenance since 1967), still work on the mountain. Look for them as well as four generations of Blakes working and playing on the slopes.
     
  • TSV remains one of the few family owned and operated ski resorts in North America. To this day it is still run by the founders' children and grandchildren. Because of this long tradition of family, no other ski resort can make you feel as welcome.
     
  • On March 19th, 2008, Taos Ski Valley opened it's doors to snowboarding for the first time ever. Prior to this date, Taos Ski Valley was a ski-exclusive resort