Then & now

By Whitney Spivey | November 28, 2022

Thennow Oldski Opt
Los Alamos Ski Club

In the 1940s, the scientists and soldiers working at the Los Alamos branch of the Manhattan Project—the U.S. government’s top-secret effort to build the world’s first atomic weapons—formed the Los Alamos Ski Club. “The membership list … reads like a ‘who’s who’ of science and includes notable figures in history such as Robert Oppenheimer, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi, and Nicholas Metropolis,” writes Deanna Morgan Kirby in her book Just Crazy to Ski: A Fifty-Year History of Skiing at Los Alamos. “After working all week developing nuclear weapons, many of the physicists, chemists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians spent their weekends cutting ski trails (or using explosives to clear slopes), building primitive rope tows, and ‘designing’ ski lodges from salvaged Army buildings.”

Today, the Los Alamos Ski Club actively maintains the 750-acre Pajarito Mountain ski area (pictured here in the 1960s and in 2019), which tops out at 10,440 feet above sea level. Located just miles from town, many physicists, chemists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians still spend their weekends (and often their lunch breaks) here.

Visit for information on opening day, lift tickets, and more. ★

Ski Pajarito
Photo: Los Alamos County