A Legend

This morning, Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort's founder, Lloyd Bolander passed away. Words cannot express the impact this man had on our community, on the tens of thousands of kids he taught to ski, on his staff, on his family - on all of us who were fortunate enough to know him. More information - including how the family will commemorate his life - will be forthcoming. In the meantime, here is the resort announcement:

Lloyd Bolander, founder of New Mexico’s Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort, has died, 62 years after he opened northern New Mexico’s oldest ski area.

Bolander passed away on Monday, January 20, at his home in Vadito, just miles from the resort he founded. He was 86 years old.

“Lloyd was one of the last true pioneers of New Mexico. He and Olive had a vision for their family and community that they successfully brought to fruition through their vibrant spirits and sheer determination. That vision is carried on by his children and those of us that are blessed to be a part of his family,” said Sipapu managing partner James Coleman. “He never stopped learning and striving to be his best. He directly impacted the lives of tens of thousands and will be dearly missed.”

A New Mexico native, Bolander grew up in Penasco, and began skiing at age three, shooting the gaps between pine trees on U.S. Hill near Taos on skis purchased from Montgomery Ward.

In 1950, Lloyd and his new bride, Olive, bought 13 acres of riverfront property in the Sangre de Cristo mountains with a simple but meaningful desire to create a sustainable life doing something they loved in the valley they called home. Two years later, Lloyd opened his ski area with a 100-foot-long portable rope tow and charged 50 cents per lift ticket. He christened his slope “Sipapu,” a Tewa word for “land of paradise.”

Over the years, Lloyd – with the support of Olive, his daughter, Sue, and his son, Bruce – added and replaced lifts, put in new trails, hand-built all of the resort’s slopeside lodging, and opened a rental shop, restaurant, and store.

Lloyd was most passionate about teaching others – especially children – how to ski. He founded the Sipapu School Program, which offers deep discounts to local schools who brought their classes to learn to ski (Sue, Sipapu’s Ski School Director, now champions this initiative).

In 1984, Lloyd and Olive retired from their daily duties at Sipapu, although he frequented the resort regularly, usually helping his daughter teach ski school lessons. Lloyd and Olive were inducted into the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame in 2004. Last May the Professional Ski Instructors Association recognized Lloyd for 55 years of PSIA service.

Lloyd is survived by his wife of 64 years, Olive, and his daughter, Sue (Bolander) Leslie and her husband, Bill Leslie, of Vadito; and his son, Bruce, and his wife, Winonah, of Vadito. He is also survived by four grandsons, seven great-grandchildren and countless employees, resort guests, friends and neighbors whom he counted as family.

Lloyd – along with Olive, Sue and Bruce – began Sipapu over 60 years ago, but he did more than create a ski area. He defined what it meant to pursue a passion, to be unafraid to take risks, to build a dream, to provide for a family, to support a community, to explore, to adventure, and to walk a life modestly, humbly while loving deeply.

The Bolander family will announce how they will commemorate and celebrate Lloyd’s life at a later date.