Squaw/Alpine ready to roll out $24 million in improvements | SierraSun.com

Squaw/Alpine ready to roll out $24 million in improvements

Special to the Sun

Courtesy Matt Palmer Crews are hard at work on the new Big Blue Express at Squaw Valley.

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. and#8212; Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows on Tuesday announced nearly $24 million in capital improvements for the 2012-13 winter season. This yearand#8217;s investment follows the $15 million in base area and on-mountain improvements from last winter (2011-12).

New projects for the upcoming ski and snowboard season include significant snowmaking improvements at both resorts; a new high-speed, six-passenger chairlift and improved High Camp beginner experience at Squaw; and a mile-long terrain park at Alpine Meadows.

and#8220;Snowmaking improvements, in particular, for this season and in the future, will be substantial and will vastly improve the consistency and quality of our snow surface and afford us an excellent opportunity for top-to-bottom skiing quite early in the winter season,and#8221; said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

The 2012-13 winter season marks year two of the Renaissance, originally billed as the five-year, $50 million capital improvement plan bringing dramatic improvements to Squaw. Now, the Renaissance will total nearly $70 million in improvements to both Squaw and Alpine by winter 2015-16.

Year one of the Renaissance brought a renovated base village with new restaurants, bars and fire pits to Squaw Valley, along with revamped terrain parks in partnership with Snow Park Technologies, the new SnoVentures activity zone with tubing and mini-snowmobiles and the worldand#8217;s first ski-in/ski-out Starbucks.

Below is a breakdown of some of the larger changes in store. For detailed information, visit http://www.squaw.com.

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For the 2012-13 winter season, Squaw will install the Big Blue Express, a high-speed six-pack chairlift, to replace the High Camp chairlift. The base terminal of Big Blue Express will start where the base of the High Camp lift was formerly located and will extend to the top of the Shirley Lake ridgeline.

This alignment will not only provide quicker and easier travel to Shirley Lake and beyond, it will also give skiers and riders access to beginner and intermediate terrain that was previously inaccessible via the old High Camp chairlift. The new Park Pulley telecord, a modern day version of a tow lift, will be also installed to provide easy access to the Belmont terrain park and to eliminate traversing across the mountaintop meadow.

Further, the Links double chairlift will be removed and replaced with a triple chairlift named Mountain Meadow, which will be realigned to bring skiers and riders up to the ridgeline near the top terminals of the Solitude and Silverado lifts.

As to snowmaking, Squaw Valley will pursue a variety of system-improvements including the installation of high-technology air/water guns; replacement of manual fan guns with fully automated versions; rebuilding of pumps and compressors; and installing state-of-the-art monitoring and control equipment. Together, these improvements will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness throughout the entire system, from Squaw Creek and Red Dog to Gold Coast and the Mountain Run, ensuring the best possible snow surface from top-to-bottom.

Snowmaking upgrades planned for Alpine Meadows will significantly improve efficiency, making it possible to generate more snow faster and#8212; delivering better surface conditions earlier in the season.

Upgrades will include computer-driven automation to control the snowmaking operation. The automated system monitors a range of data (e.g. temperature, humidity, flow, etc.) making it possible to configure the operation of specific snowmaking units based on conditions in that area. This greatly improves snowmaking efficiency, resulting in a larger quantity of higher quality snow in a shorter period of time.

With the recent partnership between Alpine Meadows and Snow Park Technologies, skiers and riders can look forward to continued terrain park improvements and an enhanced park experience throughout the winter season. Snow Park Technologies is renowned in the terrain park business with 15 years of experience designing parks for major resorts and events nationwide including the Dew Tour and Winter X Games.

One of the most exciting changes to the terrain park experience is the expansion of the medium and large park. The combined parks, from Terryand#8217;s Return to Dancefloor, will offer an entire mile-long park run, making it the longest terrain park run in the Tahoe region.

Also new this year, there will be a beginner progression park on Subway where lessons will be available. Guests eating out on the sundeck can enjoy the view of skiers and riders testing out their skills at a new base area jib arena. New jibs will be added this season, including four new beginner boxes, two intermediate boxes and four new snowmaking pipe jibs, increasing the park’s fleet to more than 60 jib features.