Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows Eyes 2019-20 Winter Season for Opening of California Express Gondola

Discussion in 'Skiing and Industry News' started by Philpug, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. Philpug

    Philpug The Ski'er Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows Eyes 2019-20 Winter Season for Opening of California Express Gondola

    Guests and Community can Help Realize Long-Held Dream of Connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows


    [Olympic Valley, Calif.] Oct. 25, 2017 – Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows formally announced its plan to install a base-to-base gondola connecting The Village at Squaw Valley and the base area at Alpine Meadows today. The freshly branded “California Express” gondola is targeted to open ahead of the 2019-20 winter season. The connection of these two great mountains will realize the long-held dream of the pioneers who brought the sport of skiing and the 1960 Winter Olympics to Squaw Valley nearly 60 years ago.

    The proposed connection is currently under a joint agency review and assessment with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Placer County. With help and support from the local community and loyal resort guests, once it is open, the gondola will finally offer skiers and snowboarders a cohesive, seamless ski and ride experience that includes access to the 6,000 combined acres of incredible terrain at both mountains without use of a car, and additional lift access to the top of the KT ridge.

    “With the connection of two of California’s most iconic mountains via a gondola offering spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada, we wanted a name that was fitting and had a clear association with California,” said Andy Wirth, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “Naming the gondola the ‘California Express’ was a natural choice. Especially since California, more widely known for its beaches than mountains, also offers some of North America’s most abundant snowfall, stunning scenery, and world-class ski and snowboard terrain.”

    Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is committed to ensuring the gondola is sensitive to the environment, native habitat, and nearby public lands when it is built. To this end, the design plan for the California Express prioritizes environmental sustainability at every step. This includes:

    • Protecting and preserving all identified critical habitats;
    • Avoiding crossing into the Granite Chief wilderness boundary;
    • Reducing car and shuttle traffic between the two mountains that impacts guests, residents and employees;
    • Minimizing visual impacts by limiting the number and height of gondola towers to maintain the scenic beauty of the area; and
    • Eliminating the need to construct access roads by using helicopters and overland crews for construction.
    Pending approval by public agencies, the resort believes it can make the California Express a reality in time for the 2019-20 winter season. Residents and resort guests can voice their active support for the California Express to make this long-held dream reality.

    To learn more about the California Express and how to help make it happen in time for the 2019-20 winter season, visit squawalpine.com/gondola.
    About Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows
    Voted ‘Best Ski Resort’ in North America for the second year in a row by USA Today and 10Best Readers’ Choice, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is an internationally renowned mountain resort in North Lake Tahoe, California. Spanning over 6,000 skiable acres across two mountains, skiers and riders of all ability levels are welcomed by over 65 percent beginner and intermediate terrain, 14 easy-to-navigate mountain zones and a custom app to make the most of every visit. The resort features slopeside lodging at The Village at Squaw Valley®, which bustles year-round with nonstop events and over 50 bars, restaurants and boutiques. With an annual average of 450 inches of snowfall and 300 sunny California days, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is known as the Spring Skiing Capital™ as it provides one of the longest ski and snowboard seasons in Lake Tahoe. Visit squawalpine.com or call 1.800.403.0206 to learn more.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2017
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  2. Eleeski

    Eleeski Out on the slopes Skier

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    This will be fun!

    Eric
     
  3. luliski

    luliski Getting off the lift Skier

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    As a long-time Alpine Meadows skier, I'm not sure I want all the visitors to Squaw Valley to be able to to "choose both" that easily.
     
  4. fatbob

    fatbob Out on the slopes Skier

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    No mention of not being able to ski Whitewolf? Less than full disclosure that from Squaw it's a commuter gondola only?
     
  5. Eleeski

    Eleeski Out on the slopes Skier

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    I thought that it would have a station at the top of the saddle allowing some more high wind lift service. Not sure what the final design ended with.

    Whitewolf was never part of the deal that I heard of. That development is completely separate.

    With the shared pass, us Squaw rifraff already invaded Alpine - especially when conditions were better there. At least now there might be a couple more parking spots. I bet (and hope) that the bus still runs.

    Change is not always bad.

    Eric
     
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  6. luliski

    luliski Getting off the lift Skier

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    And vice versa-but Alpine has always been my sanctuary when Squaw becomes too overrun.
     
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  7. Eleeski

    Eleeski Out on the slopes Skier

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    I saw a lot of Alpine loyalists on Headwall last year. Of course, us Squaw rifraff took over Hot Wheels that day when it was the only lift open at either mountain.

    The real worry is that we'll get stranded at the bar at Alpine where they gave us free cookies with our craft beer. That's the secret you are protecting. Hopefully we will be friendly enough to hitch a ride back with @luliski after the gondola shuts down.

    Eric
     
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  8. Tony

    Tony tseeb Skier

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    In the upcoming season's Tahoe thread @luliski posted "This will be my first year with an Epic Pass." Unless that is in addition to her Squalpine Pass, you may need to look elsewhere for a ride back. I have to wonder if @luliski got tired of them not running lifts during and after storms (as I did the last time I had a Squaw pass - I did use my two MCP days last season and have three there this season) and moved to the Dark side.

    While the Squaw side of the lift should be more protected than KT, the Alpine side seems like it could be exposed to a lot of wind and some avalanche danger. And everyone needs to realize that the OP in this thread is a press release and gondola needs "approval by public agencies".
     
  9. luliski

    luliski Getting off the lift Skier

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    It's true, I have both. I only had the Squalpine Pass last season, and I ended up skiing at Northstar more than enough to justify the cost of a pass there. Not just because of lift closures at Squalpine, but also because my SO likes to ski there. One of his friends has a condo there, and another friend spends a week there every year. So I end being at Northstar for the good company. Sometimes the skiing's pretty good too. It was pretty easy to put down $49 towards this year's Epic pass at the end of last season.

    I struggled with getting a Squalpine pass for this upcoming season because they changed their pass structure. I've always bought the Bronze Pass, which blocked out Saturdays but not Sundays, until March when weekends weren't blocked at all. That worked for me; if I'm going to ski on the weekend, I'd prefer to ski Sundays. For the upcoming season the Bronze Pass has all weekends all season blacked out. I only work three days a week, but not all in a row, and my three day stretches off are all around the weekend (either Sat-Monday or Friday-Sunday). And I really hate Northstar on weekends. We have a ski lease in Tahoe City, or I'd spend more time going to Kirkwood.So I had to buy the Silver Pass at Squalpine. I can't believe how much I have spent on the upcoming season. I hope it snows
     
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  10. luliski

    luliski Getting off the lift Skier

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    Well, to be honest, I've been going to both Squaw and Alpine since they joined forces. But Alpine is a respite when Squaw gets crazy-crowded. I'll have to check out the bar at Alpine. I've only ever had a beer on the deck (no cookies).
     
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  11. Eleeski

    Eleeski Out on the slopes Skier

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    @luliski Anyone with two passes rocks!

    If you get stuck in the Squaw leaving traffic hell, stop by and party a bit with us while the traffic dies down. We try to get up when it's good and Pugski folks are always welcome. We're behind the church. PM to see if we are up.

    Eric
     
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  12. luliski

    luliski Getting off the lift Skier

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    Where's the church?
     
  13. Eleeski

    Eleeski Out on the slopes Skier

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    Queen of the Snows church is a bit further out on Squaw Valley road than the post office. But we are on Christy lane on the road up a little that parallels Squaw Valley road. The church blocks our view - of the parking lot.

    We are pretty popular when the traffic is bad. Fun times.

    Eric
     
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  14. Tony

    Tony tseeb Skier

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    Thanks @luliski for the pass clarification. I dropped my Squaw Bronze pass after winter of 2010-11 when my best powder days were on some free tickets at N* on days Squaw did not run many lifts. That season I had three decent lower mountain Squaw powder days before Thanksgiving and before I retired, but it seems like most of the rest of my season a lot of new snow was reported on the upper mountain, but it was closed and the bottom was crowded and wet. I also got ahead of the crowds on Memorial Day Sunday for the 6-12" new (my notes say 9XHeadwall).

    I see article in SF Chronicle end with a question mark after "by 2019?" and includes some of the controversy over whether (says Sierra Watch) or not (says Squaw) gondola crosses or runs just outside the boundary of Granite Chief Wilderness Area.

    Whatever happened to replacing Red Dog and Granite Chief with high-speed lifts? I think upgrading Red Dog is a good idea, but thought I heard permit to do that had expired. I don't think unload area of Granite Chief can easily handle more people and that it will gets skied out even faster if upgraded so I'm not sure that is upgrade is a good idea, but I don't usually ski Squaw on busier days. It also seems like unless they are going to let you ski to Alpine from the gondola, that upgrading Red Dog could do more to improve skiing than gondola.
     
  15. luliski

    luliski Getting off the lift Skier

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    That sounds fun! Are you beer drinkers?
     
  16. Eleeski

    Eleeski Out on the slopes Skier

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    Silly question, I’m a beer snob! We do have hot chocolate for the designated driver and usually lots of space if the tasting is too involved. Hope to enjoy some Pugski visitors this winter.

    Eric
     
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  17. luliski

    luliski Getting off the lift Skier

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    I'm an IPA snob
    I think that, as someone else said, the gondola is going to be a "commuter gondola." I don't think White Wolf will be open to Squalpine skiers. I read that the gondola will stay out of the Granite Chief wilderness area, though. But maybe I read it on the Squalpine release.
    Squalpine sent out an e-mail asking people to express their support for the California Express, but I don't think I will be doing that at this point.
    Although I wonder if the gondola would cause Squalpine to keep Alpine open more? There has been grumbling in the community about Alpine being the poor step-child, with the focus being on getting Squaw open, resulting in crowding at Squaw and unhappiness amongst people who would rather be skiing at Alpine. I don't know if that's an operations strategy, it's just a complaint I've heard often in the past few winters. Maybe having an easier way for Squaw visitors to explore Alpine (because I think that's the way it will go, mostly out-of-area visitors will use the gondola, going from Squaw to Alpine), will mean that there will be more focus on having both areas open (if it's true that the focus has been on Squaw).
    Re: Red Dog and Granite Chief lifts. I love those lifts just the way they are! I love that the hordes stay away because they are slow and long. The only time I waited in line on Granite Chief last season was during Spring Break. Red Dog had fantastic corn in the spring.
    I had some great powder days at Northstar too. I used to go there often when my daughter was young. I liked their lesson program for her, and I would lap the Backside with some friends while the kids took their lessons. This was before they rebuilt the village or Lookout Mountain. You could still park in one of the closer lots. Now it's always remote parking, and it takes so long to get away from the crowds and to a fun part of the mountain. Lookout is fun, but so low elevation that the snow is often wet and sticky. When our friends started going to Alpine, we switched too. Alpine is so easy. The lessons meet right there in front of the main lodge, which is right in front of parking lot. Even though it's not as big as Squaw, there are many areas to explore, and I always find someplace that's not packed there. I just choose Squaw or Alpine based on my mood, and if it's a busy day I usually choose Alpine.
     
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