Powder Magazine published an interview with Andy Wirth, sharing details and hopefully getting public feedback about the new gondola connecting the two ski resorts and possibly making it one of the preeminent ski experiences in North America. Since Andy Wirth became President and CEO of Squaw Valley in 2010, the company underwent an upgrade funded by KSL Capital Partners, costing $70 million.
They improved mountain design and infrastructure as well as, renovating lodging and commons areas. In 2011, Wirth also became CEO and President of the neighboring mountain, Alpine Meadows. The next major step Wirth plans to take is connecting the two resorts via base-to-base gondola. Learn more about Andy Wirth: http://www.powder.com/tag/andy-wirth/
The gondola would start at the base of one mountain, up and over the ridge in between the two, then down to the base of the other. Andy Wirth noticed how his predecessor did business, through lawyers and litigation. Wirth saw that developing friendships and working together rather than against each other would be the best approach. Troy Caldwell owns the land between the two mountain, 460-acres, known as White Wolf The famous KT-22 chair lift.
The gondola will border the west edge of White Wolf, along the boundary of undeveloped land, known as Granite Chief Wilderness Area. Wirth was a wilderness ranger for San Pedro Wilderness Area and a back country ranger for Rocky Mountain National Parks in his younger years and his grandfather helped write the Wilderness Act of 1963.
Andy Wirth promises to keep construction on private land and it will not affect the wilderness area. In the past, if you purchased a season pass or lift ticket, they can track where you ski. Turns out, 20 to 25% of customers visit both mountains in a day. The company believes if they build the connecting gondola, it will reduce traffic on Valley and Meadows local roads.
Current plans suggest a loading station near Skunk Rock, along the KT ridge. Also, in the works, is creating a segmented design to operate independently of each other, in case of snow pack.
Andy Wirth asked the public,”How would we best activate that intent of managing, protecting, and respecting the heritage, history, and vibe of each mountain?” They are looking for public support on their website about the gondola.