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Squaw & Alpine WILL Connect | Exclusive Interview with White Wolf’s Troy Caldwell

 

Some of the incredible terrain at White Wolf. photo: travis ganong

The threat of Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows connecting and creating the largest ski resort in the USA has been talked about since Alpine Meadows opened in 1961. Alpine is just on the other side of the ridge from Squaw and they’re only separated by a small zone called “White Wolf.”

White Wolf is 460 acres of convoluted alpine terrain that is owned by one Troy Caldwell. Troy is a former U.S. Ski Team member, construction contractor, and all around solid person.

Troy bought White Wolf in 1990 from the Southern Pacific Railroad and was instantly greeted by a frenzy of lawsuits from Squaw Valley that lasted over 15 years. Troy survived the legal lashing and the two eventually settled their differences. But the connection of Alpine & Squaw never happened.

WHITE WOLF DEATILS:

  • 460 acres
  • Purchased by Troy in 1990 from Southern Pacific Railroad for $350,000
  • Includes 75 acres of Squaw Valley ski resort that includes the upper half of the Olympic Lady chair and the top third of the KT-22 chair.

Troy Caldwell at White Wolf. photo: seth lightcap

In 2010 Squaw Valley was sold to a private equity firm named KSL Capital Partners. KSL wasted no time in acquiring Alpine Meadows in 2011. Their obvious next move is to team up with White Wolf and connect Squaw & Alpine.

What we all want to know is:

Is KSL working with Troy to gain access to White Wolf and build the Squaw/Alpine connect?

The answer is YES. Troy and KSL have already begun negotiations. I interviewed Troy this past Friday to gather the latest details on the situation.

“We wanna work with the KSL boys” – Troy Caldwell

Troy and KSL have been discussing how they can make the White Wolf connect work and what each party aims to gain out of the deal.

“I told ‘em that I don’t wanna take a phat check and go away” – Troy

Troy wants to remain an integral part of the creation, development, and management of the White Wolf ski area. The vision he is working out with KSL involves him staying on board with White Wolf and making the White Wolf ski area not only a connect between Alpine & Squaw, but it’s own entity with it’s own attractions.

“In the planning world I’m on top of the world right now and there are no tracks in front of me and I’m the one who gets to help lay the tracks. And that’s a good feeling.” – Troy

Squaw in blue. White Wolf in purple. Alpine in red.  Voila, the biggest ski area in the US of A.

 

“We’re trying to synchronize dreams” – Troy

 

TROY’S WHITE WOLF DREAM: 

  • A small high-end ski resort
  • Gondola & 3 ski lifts
  • Mid mountain hotel
  • Small village complete with ice skating rink
  • Troy understands that all of the above may not come to fruition, but this is his grand vision for White Wolf

Troy just got back from 2 weeks of traveling all over the American West visiting the best ski resorts in the land and studying their layouts to aid in the development of his White Wolf. He visited Jackson, Vail, Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, Beaver Creek, Steamboat, Grand Targhee, & Big Sky. KSL footed the bill for that on-site research and “treated us like kings and queens.”

One more reason Troy fits right in around here. He lit himself on fire and did ski stunts for the 1974 ski movie “Children of the Morning” (this shot is his buddy, “Rocket” Ralph Bertoli, doing the fire thing as well)

By now, the reader is fully understanding that yes, White Wolf will connect Squaw and Alpine making the largest ski resort in the USA. Well, how soon?

“In the next year or so we are gonna make our battle plan. We are hoping to keep some flexibility in that battle plan. As the world turns we will be able to turn with it. It’s good to have that flexibility because things are going to change.” -Troy

Once Troy and KSL hash out their agreement in the next year or so, they’ll start the business of acquiring the proper permits to make White Wolf into a ski area. Troy estimates this process to take somewhere in the range of 6-7 years if everything goes smoothly. Homewood ski resort (on the west shore of Lake Tahoe) is currently going through the process of acquiring similar permits and is facing the same timeframe.

In 2004 Troy installed 17 lift towers into White Wolf that end at the top of KT-22.  photo:  seth lightcap

POTENTIAL TIMEFRAME:

 

1 year or so to reach agreement between KSL & Troy

+

7 years of permit acquisition

+

2-3 years of construction

=

In about 10-11 years we could see Squaw + Alpine + White Wolf

=

One combined ski zone = Over 6,000 acres = Biggest ski resort in the USA

Terrain at White Wolf.  photo:  seth lightcap

For Northern Californians, the prospect of Squaw & Alpine connecting has always been a distant, intangible, nebulous dream. That dream has now morphed into a blunt reality that can no longer be ignored. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows will connect. They will connect because of our local boy Troy Caldwell and his powerful vision of what will soon be White Wolf ski area.

“We’re looking to be a little bit different from the rest of the world. We’re gonna be a little bit special.” – Troy Caldwell

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