Squaw, Alpine Meadows to assess possibility of backcountry access gates | SierraSun.com

Squaw, Alpine Meadows to assess possibility of backcountry access gates

Sun staff report

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. and#8212; Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are investigating the possibility of creating backcountry access gates that would permit on-snow travel between the Lake Tahoe ski resorts, officials announced Friday.

During the 2011-12 winter operating season, Squaw and Alpine Meadows management, ski patrols from both resorts and the U.S. Forest Service will begin a pilot study into the idea, according to a press release.

If successful, the study would result in a policy which could permit skiers and riders with specialized backcountry training and equipment to access wilderness land connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, according to the release.

and#8220;We will be working with closely with our partner, the United States Forest Service, to conduct the pilot study,and#8221; said Andy Wirth, CEO of both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, in a statement. and#8220;With the safety of our guests and our team members as our primary concern, we will be doing our due diligence to determine whether or not backcountry access between Squaw and Alpine Meadows is a possibility.and#8221;

Since Squaw and Alpine joined under common ownership this fall, both resorts can be accessed on one lift ticket or season pass for the 2011-12 winter season; shuttles will run constantly between the resorts this summer.

According to the release, the boundary management policies of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows will remain much the same as they have in previous years. With the exception of the conditions-dependent pilot study, Squaw Valleyand#8217;s boundary will remain closed as it has in prior years; the Alpine Meadows Ski Area boundary will be managed as it has been in the past.

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The project will include route selection, potential issues relating to backcountry access during in-bounds closures, search and rescue issues and interface with private land and wilderness areas, according to the release.

and#8220;The goal of the pilot study will be to determine whether or not feasible locations for backcountry access gates exist and#8212; and if so, where the best locations would be in terms of topography and exposure,and#8221; the release reads. and#8220;The pilot study will be launched when adequate snow conditions have been reached.and#8221;