Opinion: Clearing up confusion over potential Squaw-Alpine gondola | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Clearing up confusion over potential Squaw-Alpine gondola

Troy Caldwell
Special to the Sun

I’ve dreamed about the possibility of a connection between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows since I purchased land located between the two iconic mountains in 1990.

When I entered into agreement with Squaw Valley Ski Holdings last month to finally create a connection between Squaw and Alpine, I was able to bring my long-time dream ­— and the dream of the founders of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, other neighbors, and literally generations of skiers — one step closer to reality.

Together, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and I are working to create a Base-to-Base gondola connection that will make it easy for skiers and riders to explore both mountains with a single lift ticket or season pass, without the need to get in their car to travel between the two.

Our plans include a high-speed, detachable gondola that will operate between the base of Squaw Valley and the base of Alpine Meadows.

The planned Base-to-Base gondola will be carefully designed to minimize the overall footprint on the land, as well as maintain the scenic beauty of the area.

Like so many others who live in or visit the Tahoe area, I love the mountains and have tremendous respect for the environment. Managing and preserving the private land I own, as well as respecting the public lands that surround it is not something I take lightly.

There has been some confusion regarding the designation of the private land I own. It is important to note that the U.S. Forest Service has always recognized, and currently recognizes the property is, and remains, private land.

Although my property lies on the edge of the designated Wilderness, because it is private land, it is not administered as part of the Granite Chief Wilderness, does not carry a Wilderness designation that would make it subject to the constraints of the Wilderness Act, and is not under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service.

The Granite Chief Wilderness quite literally backs up to my backyard, and I continue to welcome those who use and love the land to access it via a 10-foot wide easement I have provided to the U.S. Forest Service to provide access specifically to the Five Lakes trail.

The Wilderness that borders my property is an area that both my partners at Squaw Valley and I have been very conscious of throughout the planning process.

Our collective intention is to ensure good stewardship of the high alpine environment whose natural beauty is integral to the overall experience ­— both of skiers and snowboarders, and those enjoying the federal lands adjacent to the private land I have owned for so long.

The planned Base-to-Base gondola will be carefully designed to minimize the overall footprint on the land, as well as maintain the scenic beauty of the area.

In addition, the gondola will utilize an innovative generation system to minimize impacts on watershed, soils and natural resources throughout the planned lift corridor.

While this has been a personal dream of mine for many years, I know that there are many, many others who share my excitement and desire to see the Base-to-Base gondola come to fruition.

The ability to easily move between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows will only enhance the already incredible skiing and riding experiences offered at these two iconic mountains.

Troy Caldwell, an Alpine Meadows resident, is the owner of private lands located between Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows.