Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have provide Lake Tahoe with premier ski experiences for decades. Now, Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth has announced plans to connect the two resorts together with a base-to-base gondola. Powder Magazine caught up with Wirth to find out how the proposed gondola will change the face of the Lake Tahoe valley.
How the Gondola Helps Visitors
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have been long-time neighbors. In 2011, the two ski resorts merged as one under Wirth’s directive. Combined, both resorts offer over 6,000 acres of skiable land for visitors. Since the merger a single pass has allowed visitors to ski both parks in one day. However, getting there required driving or a shuttle bus. With the gondola, it’s only a short ride away.
Connecting the Two Resorts
The idea of connecting Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley originates with Wayne Poulsen, the founder of Squaw Valley who settled in area in the 1930’s and envisioned the two valleys being connected. Decades later, it is finally coming to fruition. The gondola will connect the bases of the two resorts together and feature two angle stations, allowing the route to turn as it navigates across the mountains. Skiers will get an aerial view of both resorts on the way.
Environmental Impacts and Considerations
Andy Wirth’s resume includes work as a backcountry ranger and contribution to several environmental causes, and as such plans for the construction of the gondola take environmental impact into consideration. While there is some worry about this from concerned locals, Wirth proposes to design and construct the gondola in the most environmentally safe possible. The gondola will also mean less traffic on local roads, leading to reduced carbon output from drivers between ski resorts.
Benefits for Local Businesses
While the gondola might be the primary project that Wirth is working at the moment, local businesses will also benefit from improved services at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. With more visitors and skiers, local lodgings and tourism will enjoy the boost during the winter months, when Lake Tahoe really sees an influx of visitors.
About Andy Wirth
According to Crowdrise, Andy Wirth took the helm at Squaw Valley as President and CEO in 2010. One of his first moves was to oversee an overhaul and completely redo the Squaw Valley experience, making it the extraordinary ski resort that it is today.