Ernie Blake: A Pioneer for Skiing


Rohnin Tumason

Ernie Blake, born Ernst Hermann Bloch, was for lack of better words a gifted man. He was the founder and longtime owner of Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico. Born and raised in Switzerland in 1913, Ernie’s athletic capabilities were undeniably good, and he spent most of his days skiing in the Swiss Alps. His family was Jewish, so when the threat of World War II became a concern, Ernie and his family fled to New York City to start a new life. His immediate line of work was to teach rich people how to ski and manage a ski shop. 

When the war was beginning to become a threat in the 1930’s Blake attempted to join the mountain division for the U.S. Army, although he was denied the position because of his European background. Despite that, there was still a use for him, so he became an interrogator of German prisoners in the war. Ernie also had a wife by the name of Rhoda Blake, who spent time studying art in New Mexico. So after the war, the two of them moved to the west after Ernie received a job offer to manage the newly opened Santa Fe Ski basin, as well as its neighbor Glenwood Springs in Colorado. 

Although Ernie was living a good life, he desired more and dreamed of opening his own ski resort. He had often flown a small plane back and forth between New Mexico and Colorado to work and began spotting for a suitable area to build his own ski mountain. That is when Taos Mountain was discovered. With some help, Ernie began to make his dream come true, with extreme slopes, and the cozy touch of European foods, and booz. Rhoda, Ernie’s wife, and his children and grandchildren all made an impact on the valley, each putting something into the mountain. These charms make Taos what it is today along with undeniably good skiing. 

Ernie Blake died of Pneumonia in 1989. His ashes were spread over the mountain by the National Guard, as his legacy was praised by the skiers taking a moment of silence to watch, as the ski lifts were closed during the gesture. His family continued to run the valley until 2013.