Dr. Robb Gaffney on Squaw Valley “Speaking Up to Protect Squaw Valley: What Would Muir Do?”

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Dr. Robb Gaffney in his office in Squaw Valley, CA
Dr. Robb Gaffney in his office in Squaw Valley, CA.  image:  examiner.com

Dr. Robb Gaffney (author of Squallywood the Book) has written a poignant piece for our friends at Moonshine Inc. about the changes going on at Squaw Valley, California.  It’s a powerful read from a man that knows Squaw Valley and it’s many faces well.

Squallywood the book by Robb Gaffney M.D.
Squallywood the book by Robb Gaffney M.D.

Speaking Up to Protect Squaw Valley: What Would Muir Do?

Not long after KSL purchased Squaw Valley Ski Corp. several years ago, I found myself dreaming about what was possible for this valley. What kind of new lifts would there be? What would the connection through White Wolf look like? Would we be able to start up a backcountry skiing program and take advantage of all the amazing terrain surrounding Squaw’s boundaries? I wasn’t alone. Many conversations I shared with local athletes and community members revolved around this lofty and ceiling-less experience of possibility. I would rarely run into someone who opposed my inspired state, mostly when I spoke excitedly about supporting the Olympic bid, which if successful would require massive regional developments.   

Over the next couple years, I welcomed the much needed improvements to the mountain and base area, including the addition of the Big Blue chairlift and the elimination of the ticket portals so visitors could see the beautiful Funitel building. I found myself defending the decision to cut down the tree next to the KT sundeck in order to open up the area and create a large amphitheater. Remember the venue for the July 4, 2011 Big Head Todd concert?

But this buoyant honeymoon period was followed by something interesting. My enthusiasm about what could be gradually took a back seat, pushed out by thoughts of what was really going on here — the mechanisms of big business, the intricate strategies employed, and the bottom line. My eyes opened up to a very real threat facing our precious valley. Were we on the cusp of losing our unique character in this North American trend of homogenizing ski villages? Something truly valuable was at stake. – Robb Gaffney/Moonshine Ink

Read the full Moonshine Inc article here:

Speaking Up to Protect Squaw Valley: What Would Muir Do?


Robb Gaffney M.D. photo: skiingthebackcountry.com

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4 thoughts on “Dr. Robb Gaffney on Squaw Valley “Speaking Up to Protect Squaw Valley: What Would Muir Do?”

  1. He’s one of my heros. I got the book. Shall I go for GNAR points?
    (rtfm -this book for list of the GNAR point scale) LOL

  2. What specifically would you recommend? Here’s a few thoughts:

    – Thanks KSL for shifting the communal building a little to save views for Bldg 3.
    – build a community and fun, eg with affordable race etc programs for kids in the valley, many of whose parents are not zillionaires.
    – elaborate on the family lodge style proposal from near Chamonix Rd. How many rooms, are they ensuited, are there kitchenettes or a communal lodge room,
    – elaborate if the fractionals include weeks/points;
    – 3 storey employee housing (and don’t make the lodging the size of a prison cell) and multistorey car park at the Shirley end of the village. Ditto on the block near 325 SV Rd
    – have the condos rise from SV Road so as you look up, there’s 3, then 4, then 5, then 6 storeys: atm the condos will look like a cement toilet block;
    – create artists impressions from vantage points so people see how the development will look from their front yard.
    – move the Church into the conference room area, and use the church land for a 2-3 storey carpark.
    – 2 storey parking behind OVI. Make it look like OVI’s style.
    – add condo rentals in the valley to your booking engine so the renting clientele can find things easier;
    -walk bridges over the creek to create shortcuts;
    – secure lockers in a secure area where moral owners (eg hoa owners in the valley) can store gear and then change into walking shoes)
    – avoid tall buildings built on angles that get cold when the sun can’t reach the al fresco diners;
    – undercover bus interchange with shelters that keep the weather out, add kiosk. One near 325 SV Rd, the other closer to the village
    – instal computerised bus signs that update when the bus is coming;
    – App for bus travel;
    -Vouchers for ski travel on TART,
    – have the bus meet Amtrak at Truckee,
    – tell Amtrak to allow ski bags on the train;
    – ditto with buses
    – road widening the highway,
    – replace the Mousetrap;
    – hotel waste recycling plant that pumps water for snow making and for fire suppression if SV is hit by a forest fire;
    – clarify fees for parking close and afar;
    – clarify if the 2nd home condo buildings will be vacant and make the place a ghost town;
    – will the building create a heat well that turns snow to rain?
    – will there be a club house for racers/program participants/locals?

Got an opinion? Let us know...