WT Rec Sports gives students the opportunity to try winter sports


WT Rec Sports

WT students and Brianna Jarrett, a mix of skiers and snowboarders, throw up the Buffs hand sign after an enjoyable trip at Wolf Creek Ski area, Pagosa Springs,CO.

During winter break, West Texas A&M University students visited the close by Rocky Mountains for the winter sports of skiing and snowboarding as part of a trip organized by WT Recreational Sports.

Winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, are near impossible to enjoy in Texas due to a lack of mountains and measurable snow for an established snow base. However, three New Mexico resorts are less than 300 miles, four hours in a car, from the WT campus.

“Our most recent ski trip was to Wolf Creek [In Southwest Colorado], but we go all over the Southwest for ski trips,” said Brianna Jarrett, assistant director of recreation sports and outdoors.

When arriving in the Texas Panhandle, the flat lands of the Llano Estacado, which buttress up to the Rocky Mountains, gives our area the closest connection to winter sports in the entire state. This winter, WT Rec Sports switched up their normal destination due to La Niña affecting the Southwest.

In order of closeness to campus, Sipapu, Angel Fire, Red River, Taos, and Ski Santa Fe sit on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with close access from Amarillo, TX. (OpenSnow)

“When we expect a dry winter, we know New Mexico is probably not going to be a great option. When the slopes don’t have a lot of fresh snow, they can be a little bit more dangerous,” Jarrett said. “If we can find somewhere with better snow, why not? Wolf Creek conveniently is always reliable that way.”

While the drive is several hours longer when compared to three nearby ski resorts of Angel Fire, Red River and Sipapu, going the extra 200 miles guarantees a better winter sports experience.

“My favorite run ever was on that last ski trip hiking,” said Caleb Clifton, a senior mechanical engineering major. “They had so much powder there and it wasn’t all skied out. The trees weren’t densely packed. It was just a great time.”

The week before the WT Rec Sports group left for Wolf Creek, they had just received 127 inches of snow. This amount is common for the Wolf Creek pass, but an astonishing amount for the non-mountain area. Snow at this level is a great chance for beginners to try out the sport safely and it’s perfect for the experts wanting to shred the “powder,” which refers to fresh, untouched snow.

“Before going out, probably work on your endurance with leg exercises and stuff like squats and all that because you’ll be falling down and standing up the whole two days,” Clifton said. “I always tell people that are trying to learn snowboarding that they have to give it at least three days.”

Trails at ski resorts are rated in four separate categories, the easiest being green, less difficult blues, most difficult blacks and the extreme double blacks. As the activity is a sport, athleticism does come into play when trying to challenge yourself on the slopes.

Spruce-firs stand over Blueberry Hill, a black ski trail, and Charisma Crossover, a blue ski trail, with the Bonanza chair in the background at the Wolf Creek Ski area, Jan. 4, 2022. (Marcus )

Not everyone can or will be able to do the extreme double blacks, but Jarrett said she has “seen someone go from beginner to blue in a single day.”

“If you’re thinking about trying snowboard[ing] or skiing, find someone that’s going and just go with them,” Clifton said. “You’re never gonna learn if you don’t try it. [The WT Rec Sports trip was] a really good price for a ski trip.”

WT Rec Sports offers this trip every year during the winter break and provides students with the chance to explore the outdoors in a more affordable way when compared to going with a group of friends.

“[WT Rec Sports is] great for that because we have an experienced trip coordinator who’s done all the activities, so we can at least get you introduced to teach you the skills, the basics and we take care of all the pains of travel,” Jarrett said. “So other than you showing up on time with all the things you need, That’s all you need to do.”

Going with WT saves you the struggle of getting a trip planned and, especially for first timers, going down the mountain. As a skier, the task can be dangerous. Going with an experienced group that’s there to make sure you have a great time allows you to enjoy the time you have on the mountain.