Tahoe ski resorts Squaw, Alpine reach deal to build connecting gondola
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is published mostly from a press release that was issued at 8 a.m. Monday by the San Francisco-based firm Cinch PR & Branding Group, on behalf of Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows. Look for more to the story later in the week at http://www.tahoedailytribune.com.
Step 1: Initial agreement reached, announced April 13
Step 2: Developing a project plan for submission to the Placer County planning commission, planned for summer 2015
Step 3: County commission will prepare an environmental analysis and open to public input, TBD
Step 4: If approved, Squaw begins planning of the construction phase, TBD
— Source: Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Squaw Valley Ski Holdings Monday announced it has reached an agreement with the owner of private land between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows to create a base-to-base gondola connection between the two iconic mountains.
The gondola would make it easy for skiers and riders to explore both mountains with a single lift ticket or season pass, without needing to travel between the two by car.
“For decades, skiers and riders have talked about connecting these two world-class resorts,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. “Over the last four years, we’ve made significant improvements to enhance the skier experience at both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The base-to-base gondola will offer our guests the ability to easily explore and experience the unique attributes of these two mountains via a brand new aerial connection, while simultaneously reducing vehicle traffic between them.”
The planned gondola connection between the two mountains is due to a partnership between Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Troy Caldwell, the owner of the private land dubbed “White Wolf,” located between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.
The estimated completion date of the project will be subject to Placer County and US Forest Service approvals once applications are submitted.
“Connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows through White Wolf is literally bringing my long-time dream to fruition,” said Troy Caldwell. “I’ve waited years for this to happen, and am pleased to have reached an agreement with Squaw Valley Ski Holdings to allow skiers and riders to easily move between these two incredible mountains.”
Plans to connect the two mountains have commenced, and include the possibility of the lift to be constructed as a high-speed, detachable gondola that would operate between the base of Squaw Valley and the base of Alpine Meadows, traveling over the KT-22 Peak.
There are no plans currently being contemplated to allow skiing or other non-skiing activities along the lift route or on the White Wolf terrain.
LEARN MORE: For more information about the Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows connection, visit squawalpine.com/gondola.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Troy, and to have the opportunity to connect these two iconic mountains via gondola,” said Wirth. “This connection represents a huge opportunity to give skiers and snowboarders a way to easily travel between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows and seamlessly experience the distinct terrain and unique culture of both mountains.”
Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Troy Caldwell will work with mountain planners at SE Group to design and construct the gondola connection to ensure good stewardship of the high alpine environment whose natural beauty is integral to the overall Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows experience. The planned base-to-base gondola will be carefully designed to minimize the overall footprint and potential visual impacts to the adjacent Granite Chief Wilderness, as well as maintain the scenic beauty of the area.
To accomplish this, design elements include minimizing the number of lift towers and eliminating the need to construct access roads. The result of these efforts would significantly reduce necessary timber removal and vegetation clearing for construction, and would minimize impacts on watershed, soils and natural resources throughout the planned lift corridor.
Recognizing the visual sensitivity of the surrounding area – particularly the adjacent Granite Chief Wilderness, measures will be implemented to minimize the potential for adverse visual impacts from the perspective of design, materials and equipment selection, and operational practices.
In addition, it is anticipated that the operation of the gondola will substantially reduce both resort shuttle service and guest vehicular traffic between the two resorts, leading to a reduction in overall vehicular emissions.
“The plan itself will be executed with incredible care and concern for our environment, and with the intention of taking cars off the road, effectively reducing vehicle travel between the two mountains,” said Michael Gross, director of environmental initiatives for Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows. “Our guests will no longer have to drive from one mountain to the other to choose where they would like to ski. They will have the ability to simply ride a gondola to experience these two iconic, diverse mountains.”
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