Lloyd Bolander, founder of New Mexico’s Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort, died on January 20, at his home in Vadito, N.M. He was 86 years old.
Bolander was born and raised in Penasco, N.M., and began skiing at age three on a wooded hillside near Taos. In 1950, with his wife Olive, he bought 13 acres of riverfront property in the Sangre de Cristo mountain, intending to live a sustainable lifestyle. In 1952, they installed a 100-foot portable rope tow and opened for business as Sipapu, a Tewa language word for “land of paradise.” It was the first lift-served ski area in New Mexico.
The family, including daughter Sue and son Bruce, expanded the area steadily, building the slopeside lodging themselves. At one point a new lift arrived with operating instructions in German. Ernie Blake drove over from Taos Ski Valley to translate the handbook.
Lloyd was passionate about teaching new skiers, especially kids. His Sipapu School Program still offers deep discounts to local schools to bring in classes to learn to ski.
Lloyd and Olive retired in 1984, though Lloyd continued to teach in the ski school, run by his daughter Sue. In 2004, Lloyd and Olive were inducted into the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame.
Lloyd is survived by Olive; by daughter Sue and son Bruce and their spouses; by four grandsons and seven great-grandchildren.
“Lloyd was one of the last true pioneers of New Mexico,” said Sipapu managing partner James Coleman. “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. He never stopped learning and striving to be his best. He directly impacted the lives of tens of thousands and will be dearly missed.”