Like clockwork, every year, the snowfall awakens the sleeping giants we know as our local ski hills. As many resorts have branched out into summer operations with more vigor, snow is no longer the only source of revenue, but it certainly is the main pull for most. Whether it’s summer or winter, and no matter how much they seem like playgrounds for exhilarating activities, these beloved resorts are businesses at the end of the day. Like any business, tough decisions need to be made when the financials just aren’t cutting it. In “The Ghost Ski Resorts,” Black Crows aims to explore what these deserted havens of the past are like today.
In the inaugural episode, our French comrades travel across the pond to Ski Rio, New Mexico. With limited snowfall and entertainment, the resort closed its doors two decades ago. It may be desolate, but the resort’s tranquil care-taker Joe Musich keeps the music alive, as his name implies. With nostalgic talk of the days that were, it’s obvious this place was home to some incredible memories and, judging by the plentiful snow that Camille Jaccoux and Michael Shaffer skied, the area still holds lots of potential for current skiers to enjoy, just with a little extra work.
This documentary series serves as a reminder to all that the places we consider immortal are simply islands in time. As skiers, we rely on the incredibly delicate balance of nature to bring us the goods every year. And while it seems constant, that cycle, like anything, could be disturbed in the future. The same goes for our resorts. Business is business, and these safe havens are only as safe as we make them. Some could argue that while the corporate structure is often despised in the ski world, companies like Alterra and Vail Resorts are actually giving some resorts the financial stability they need to survive and thrive.
At the end of the day, if we want to keep our local and favorite hills alive, it’s up to us as consumers. Be wise with your dollars, as they often speak louder than words. It’s important to recognize however that skiing is a financially taxing sport on the buyer. Obviously passes are getting more expensive every year, but think of your purchase as a donation, too. That resort pass helps give hundreds of hard working snow lovers jobs and a means to follow their passions in the hills. But even then, these favorite establishments are never promised. As we have all seen this year, the only constant in life is its inconsistency, so we must cherish the moments and places we have now. With that being said, there is always hope for revival in the future, and even if the vacant trails of Ski Rio now receive more attention from backcountry travelers, that’s a sort of reparation in itself. This is an awesome idea for a video series, exploring the past so we can learn for the future. I can’t wait to see where Black Crows explores next.