Sandia Peak Ski Patrol History

Sandia Peak and its Ski Patrol boast a rich and storied history.

Sandia Peak Ski Patrol was founded by veterans of the 10th Mountain Division of the US Army, who also started Vail, Breckenridge, and other ski areas after World War II. Interestingly, ski patrollers and instructors from Sandia (then called La Madera) were chosen to be trainers for the 10th Mountain Division. Capt. Bob Nordhaus, Lt. Neil Foley, and Sgt. Foster Murphy answered the call when the Division was formed.


The Albuquerque Ski Club (ASC), Bob Nordhaus is president, installs a 1500 ft. rope tow and opens La Madera.


ASC installs another rope tow up to the present day Panorama point. The Civil Conservation Corps builds a day lodge. A lift ticket costs fifty cents.


In 1940 Neil Foley officially registers with the National Ski Patrol.


December 7, 1941 Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. La Madera closes for the war.


When hostilities cease in 1946, the veterans of the 10th mountain have every intention of continuing to ski. La Madera and the future Sandia Peak get a new life. Bob Nordhous starts the La Madera Ski Co. The upper rope tow is removed and replaced with a T-bar. With a vertical rise of 1000 ft. and 4200 ft. long, it is state of the art. Neil Foley becomes president of the Albuquerque Ski Club and appoints Frank Roberts as head of the Ski Patrol. Unfortunately Foster Murphy does not return, giving his life in Italy. A run was named after him, a run that still exists today. Ski lesson, $3.00.


An Ice skating rink is installed and a bunk house is built. A lift ticket costs $3.50.


City of Albuquerque agrees to take over the area for the season, loses money. A six day lesson costs $12.00.


City of Albuquerque decides it no longer wants to be in the ski business, ownership is transferred to the Albuquerque Ski Club, which turns and profit of $2,500.00. A season pass costs $25.00.


Ben Abruzzo and Bob Nordhaus purchase La Madera from the Albuquerque Ski Club.


Dirt road to the area is paved. The difference was dramatic. The drive goes from several hours of potholes and mud to an easy 45 minute drive. Traces of the old road can still be seen today, on your way up the road look to your left between Doc Long and Tree Springs.


Work begins on chair number 1.

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we are 100% self-funded.

We pay for all training, equipment, remodels to patrol facilities, and medical supplies. Your donation can help ensure we are able to provide the best care to the skiing and boarding public at Sandia Peak.

*The Patrol is a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) volunteer organization. Your donation is tax deductible

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