Squaw Valley Ski Holdings owns Squaw Valley ski resort and the adjacent Alpine Meadows ski resort (both in California) and they’re planning to connect them via a Base-to-Base Gondola.
At this point, only an initial project application for the Base-to-Base Gondola connecting Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows has been submitted to Placer County, CA. It was submitted to Placer County on October 15th, 2015. That initial application is currently under review by both Placer County and the US Forest Service.
Two separate Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) are currently being worked on. One local and one federal.
See Squaw’s full initial project application here:
Proposed Base-to-Base Gondola Info:
- Travels from base of Alpine Meadows to base of Squaw Valley
- 2 mid-point stations – 1 near the KT-22 Saddle at Squaw and 1 near Estelle Lake at Alpine
- Alpine Meadows base station is located between Roundhouse and Hot Wheels chairlifts
- Squaw Valley base station is located between KT-22 and Squaw One Express chairlifts
- 37 towers
- 2.5-miles long
- 1,400 people per hour in each direction
- Makes Squaw/Alpine into 2nd Largest ski resort in USA at 6,000+ acres
- 3.5 acres of land disturbed
- 8 Gazex avalanche controllers be installed
- Crosses National Forest System Lands and lands owned or leased by Squaw Valley Ski Holdings
- To be built using helicopters so that access roads won’t be built lowering environmental impact
- Travels through Troy Caldwell’s White Wolf property
- Would reduce vehicle traffic between the two resorts by 100 vehicles per day, based on a survey conducted by LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc
- Squaw states that once approved, they could build this gondola in 10 months
- Protect Our Winters supports Squaw and the proposed Base-to-Base Gondola
- SE Group created the current Base-to-Base Gondola plans after 3 years of studying the terrain
- Skiing and riding at White Wolf will not be allowed via Squaw/Alpine
Local Environmental Impact Report:
A focused Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is the next step. In December 2015, Squaw hired Ascent Environmental to perform the EIR that will take 12-18 months to complete. The EIR consists of 3 phases: Notice of Preparation (Phase I, targeted to be released this Spring), Draft EIR (Phase II), and the Final EIR (Phase III). Phase I is estimated to cost Squaw $85,360, according to Placer County.
Federal Environmental Impact Statement:
The US Forest Service will be creating its own environmental review via an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be done by the SE Group. Squaw will pay for this EIS. Forest Service winter sports specialist, Joe Flannery, estimates this EIS will cost $110,113.78. The price of this EIS will go up as the price listed here doesn’t include the cost to prepare the EIS nor the forest supervisor’s time for reviewing the final EIS. Joe Flannery states that a notice of intent by the US Forest Service should be released this Spring. This EIS will most likely take 24 months to complete.
“Although these will be separate environmental documents, Placer County and the USFS are working in a highly coordinated manner to (ensure) consistency between the environmental review and documents.” – Placer County’s Planning Services staff
What About White Wolf?
White Wolf is the land between Squaw and Alpine that is owned by former US Ski Team member, Troy Caldwell. Troy is allowing Squaw to build the Base-to-Base Gondola on his land. According to Squaw Magazine, Troy is also preparing to start work on 38 high-end “units” (we assume houses and condos). Troy is also reportedly moving forward with plans for a 300-acre private ski resort in White Wolf.
SQUAW’S BASE-TO-BASE GONDOLA PRESS RELEASE:
SQUAW VALLEY SKI HOLDINGS, LLC REACHES AGREEMENT ALLOWING BASE-TO-BASE GONDOLA CONNECTION BETWEEN SQUAW VALLEY AND ALPINE MEADOWS
Planning Process to Design Gondola Connection Now Underway
[Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, Calif.] April 13, 2015 – Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, LLC today announced it has reached an agreement with the owner of private land located between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows to create a base-to-base gondola connection between the two iconic mountains. The gondola would make it easy for skiers and riders to explore both mountains with a single lift ticket or season pass, without needing to travel between the two by car.
“For decades, skiers and riders have talked about connecting these two world-class resorts,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, LLC. “Over the last four years, we’ve made significant improvements to enhance the skier experience at both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The base-to-base gondola will offer our guests the ability to easily explore and experience the unique attributes of these two mountains via a brand new aerial connection, while simultaneously reducing vehicle traffic between them.”
The planned gondola connection between the two mountains is due to a partnership between Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Troy Caldwell, the owner of the private land dubbed “White Wolf,” located between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The estimated completion date of the project will be subject to Placer County and US Forest Service approvals once applications are submitted.
“Connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows through White Wolf is literally bringing my long-time dream to fruition,” said Troy Caldwell. “I’ve waited years for this to happen, and am pleased to have reached an agreement with Squaw Valley Ski Holdings to allow skiers and riders to easily move between these two incredible mountains.”
Plans to connect the two mountains have commenced, and include the possibility of the lift to be constructed as a high-speed, detachable gondola that would operate between the base of Squaw Valley and the base of Alpine Meadows, traveling over the KT-22 Peak. There are no plans currently being contemplated to allow skiing or other non-skiing activities along the lift route or on the White Wolf terrain.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Troy, and to have the opportunity to connect these two iconic mountains via gondola,” said Wirth. “This connection represents a huge opportunity to give skiers and snowboarders a way to easily travel between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows and seamlessly experience the distinct terrain and unique culture of both mountains.”
Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Troy Caldwell will work with mountain planners at SE Group to design and construct the gondola connection to ensure good stewardship of the high alpine environment whose natural beauty is integral to the overall Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows experience. The planned base-to-base gondola will be carefully designed to minimize the overall footprint and potential visual impacts to the adjacent Granite Chief Wilderness, as well as maintain the scenic beauty of the area.
To accomplish this, design elements include minimizing the number of lift towers and eliminating the need to construct access roads. The result of these efforts would significantly reduce necessary timber removal and vegetation clearing for construction, and would minimize impacts on watershed, soils and natural resources throughout the planned lift corridor. Recognizing the visual sensitivity of the surrounding area – particularly the adjacent Granite Chief Wilderness, measures will be implemented to minimize the potential for adverse visual impacts from the perspective of design, materials and equipment selection, and operational practices. In addition, it is anticipated that the operation of the gondola will substantially reduce both resort shuttle service and guest vehicular traffic between the two resorts, leading to a reduction in overall vehicular emissions.
“The plan itself will be executed with incredible care and concern for our environment, and with the intention of taking cars off the road, effectively reducing vehicle travel between the two mountains,” said Michael Gross, director of environmental initiatives for Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows. “Our guests will no longer have to drive from one mountain to the other to choose where they would like to ski. They will have the ability to simply ride a gondola to experience these two iconic, diverse mountains.”