Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows will connect some year soon. Or will they? Troy Caldwell owns the land between Squaw & Alpine (called White Wolf) & is still in the process of working out a deal with KSL (owners of Alpine & Squaw) to connect the two resorts. Troy has been offered $45 million for his land in the past. He said no. Troy makes $50,000 or so a year. Is this guy a little nuts? Nope, he just has a vision and is determined to see it out...

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NPR Story: Will Squaw & Alpine CONNECT? | Troy Caldwell Offered $45 Million for White Wolf

 Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows will connect some year soon.  Or will they?

Troy Caldwell owns the land between Squaw & Alpine (called White Wolf) & is still in the process of working out a deal with KSL (owners of Alpine & Squaw) to connect the two resorts.

Troy has been offered $45 million for his land in the past (from who, he doesn’t say).  He said no.  Troy makes $50,000 or so a year.  Is this guy a little nuts?  Nope, he just has a vision and is determined to see it out…

White Wolf’s unstrung ski lift on the backside of KT-22

FULL TRANSCRIPT TO THIS NPR STORY:

Kai Ryssdal: The snow report from the Squaw Valley ski resort today up in Lake Tahoe is kinda eh — 96-inch base, nothing new in the past 24 hours. Spring conditions, it says, which are always a mixed bag.

That’s not a bad metaphor, actually, for the ski industry as a whole. There’s a lot of pressure to consolidate in the face of a weak economy. Here in California, two big resorts up in Tahoe want to merge and become the biggest ski area in the country. Just one thing stopping the deal: the guy who owns land in between.

Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler has a profile of the man in the middle.


Jeff Tyler: This season, the Lake Tahoe ski resort Squaw Valley bought its neighbor — Alpine Meadows. Andy Wirth is CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings.

Andy Wirth:The two resorts combined provide over 6,000 ski-able acres within 10 minutes of each other. So they offer something that nobody else has in this marketplace. At least, in Northern California.

Tyler: I’m surprised that you didn’t say that it’s the biggest resort in the U.S., if you take them together.

Wirth: Well, that fundamentally inaccurate. We’re not connected. We’re not together as one resort. We connect the resorts with a convenient shuttle.

I tried taking that shuttle.

Tyler: OK. Here at the Squaw-Alpine bus stop at 2:01.

It took me 35 minutes to get from one resort to the other. And that only got me to the parking lot. But the ride doesn’t bother snowboarder Rusty Bailey.

Rusty Bailey: It’s nice to be able to ski both mountains whenever you want. Get a pass. Works at both places. Got a bus that goes in between. I think it’s really convenient.

No. What would be really convenient would be a chair-lift that connects one resort with the other. That’s likely to happen eventually. But it all depends on local landowner Troy Caldwell.

Troy Caldwell: We own a piece of property. It’s 460 acres. It lies between Squaw Valley ski area and Alpine Meadows ski area.

He paid less than half-a-million dollars for the land more than 20 years ago. To raise the money, the Caldwells liquidated everything.

Caldwell: We basically got rid of our home and our spec house and whatever we could to make it work. We ended up living in a trailer when we moved on the property.

That trailer was without electricity or running water for about six years. But no matter the hardship, Caldwell resisted offers to sell.

Caldwell: We’ve been offered in the $45 million category for it.

That’s right. He turned down $45 million so he could build his own minimal ski resort. He has no partners. Caldwell is building it on a budget of $50,000 to $60,000 a year.

Caldwell: But I own everything. I don’t have any mortgages. We’re able to make $50,000, $60,000 kind of work for us.

He does a few odd jobs, like parking cars for the Alpine Meadows resort. At the end of the day, Caldwell shuttles skiers to the parking lot in his own personal truck.

Caldwell: I’m going up you guys, if you need a ride. You got boots, poles. You got it all.

Caldwell is a multi-millionaire on paper. So why is he spending his time parking cars?

Caldwell: The ski areas pay us to park the cars there. And that’s also a good source of revenue for us.

He also saves money when people like retired banker Pete Crosby volunteer to work on his planned ski resort, called White Wolf.

Pete Crosby: Like Troy told me, he said, “If I get a lot of cash in my wallet, it’s not good when I’m driving my car because it bothers my back.” So he said, “I don’t need a fat wallet.”

Caldwell resists taking a partner because he doesn’t want to sacrifice control. That would be a smart move, says ex-banker Pete Crosby, who used to work with entrepreneurs speculating on real estate development.

Crosby: They want to take control. They’ve got a lot of money invested in it. They want to control it. And they’re going to impose their own ideas. In many cases, they’ll change it substantially. Primarily for economic reasons.

Caldwell doesn’t seem to let economic considerations affect his plans. When he runs out of money, he puts his project on hold. He expects it could take another 10-15 years to get his ski resort going. Squaw Valley management hopes it won’t take that long to strike a deal with Caldwell.

In Alpine Meadows, Calif., I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

 

 

31 comments
    • KSL has the money..... Make them pay!

      You de man Troy!

      Don’t let Andy Withless and his “I am the God of North Lake Tahoe” complex push you around.

      Take these fuckers for every penny you can!

  • Local Mounter

    Cant blame a guy for wanting his own resort. But how long will he stay put and how much money is KSL willing to throw at him?

    My bet is he gets his own resort running, allows alpine/squaw tickets into his resort, charges you only to park your car.

    Best of luck to you! Dont let the MAN take away what is YOURS!

  • Steve

    Anyone know how old Troy is???
    Cause I’ve heard rumors of his kids wanting cash more than a ski resort…

  • Chaz McBone

    Give up the dream, man. As cool as it sounds, it’s not going to happen.

    Also, white wolf is not good terrain for a separate resort. South facing and too difficult for most wealthy skiers.

    Hold out for KSL to make a better offer (60-75 mil) and then take the money and run.

    • Kyler

      I don’t think he truly has plans to finish the project in 15 years. He just wants to throw out numbers to “Troll” KSL. KSL will start to crave white wolf so badly that they will begin throwing out crazy numbers at him. Him and his Lawyers have a great strategy.

  • tk

    i think this guy is awesome. he’s pursueing his dream and thats what matters not the money. we all had dreams when we were kids and money shouldn’t dictate them.

    • opportunity cost

      If his dream is to have a sick little ski resort, he could have ten of them for the amount of money he was reportedly offered. Think Shames, Manitoba Mountain, etc. Time for him to pull his head out of his ass.

  • Agent P

    Ultimately its what someone is wiling to pay for the property. I can tell you if Kirkwood was just sold for 19million with way better terrain and a lot more terrain as well as operational lifts that this property “whiteowolf” is not even remotely worth near 45 mil. My guess is they will banter around for awhile and come to some sort of compromised agreement.

    • Ride30b430

      Agent P your RE skills need some work, Since I am better than you watch me rip this shit. Wood did not own the land, just the right to use it. Plus KW has no power source/grid connection, just some expensive generators. WW is 450 areas with how many buildable lots? Say at least $1MM an acre when sub-divided. How much are those houses in SV worth? It also creates the access. His land is worth way more than $19MM. Have a nice day.

      • Aaaahhhh,

        no. His property isn’t zoned for residential, and getting it rezoned ain’t gonna happen. If market price for KW is $18M, white wolf is A LOT less. Shit, it barely even holds snow for more than a couple months.

    • Sean

      Kirkwood did NOT sell for 19m. It sold for 18 or 19m ON TOP of a SHIT-TON of debt.

      That is pretty important to the math.

  • Connie Lingus

    Is he nuts?!?!?! He just turned down 45 Million!!
    That’s enough to buy your own ski area somewhere else and still have plenty of money leftover for hookers and blow.

  • tpinwv

    I wish Troy the best. Back in the day I I remember winning a few spirited town league duals against him.

    I can’t believe KSL can have more than a cursory interest in this property/agreement as the limited time in the season that it can be open, and the limited number of skiers/riders who can ski the terrain in the zoned acerage.

    I would think the real link for KSL is a 3S gondola (Think W/B Peak2Peak), from the base of Siberia and planned High Camp lift area the 1.9 miles to the base lodge at AM, (map it on Google Earth). Using 3S lift technology, not a single tower would be needed in Five Lakes, and at 7M/S you ride just over 7 minutes, from Summit to Siberia, perfect for moving 3,500 weekend intermediates an hour between the heart(s) of Squaw/Alpine. The lift will be less than $45M for KSL. I hope they do help Troy finish his lift and it will be another step to what I beleive is a proper growth path in years 2012-30 to the North Tahoe area, continuous low-impact lift system and interconnect from Mt. Lincoln to Ellis Peak. Grow or die!

  • Powderbear

    Sugar Bowl to Homewood. Nice idea, and I flew over this area in a Helicopter with some people hoping to develop the Cold Stream area once, many years ago. Nice dream, and it might come true, but not in my lifetime.

  • reesh

    Please, all of you, continue to bitch about your beloved Squaw and Alpine, but leave Sugar Bowl alone, and do not develop it or the surrounding area!!!!!

    • Thatoneguy

      Not much else can be developed around the bowl, except for Crows Peak, and that would be a good thing so you don’t have much to worry about. Both Lake run and Anderson ridge are safe.

      • tpinwv

        Nice to instigate spirited debate on Unofficial, (what else can you do when you don’t have funds for a final road trip to close out the season). I’m no developer and I love the unique traits of all the Tahoe resorts, but most of us would welcome a future that included substantial increases of skiable/ridable acerage. KSL is here to stay and as they defy logic in operational excellence, they have 2 major gondola updates scheduled for W/B and 20 long term lift projects in the works up there. It would be naive to think that they aren’t working on a master plan for the North Tahoe area resorts. Five lifts between a mile and a mile and a half long can link Homewood/Lake Louise to Alpine/Sherwood, (over Blackwood Ridge to Grouse Rock).

        The link to Sugarbowl is far more complex for armchair speculation but could be accomplished along the east of the PCT over Silver Peak with a two-way transport lift that is out of the A/C corridors, and perhaps has mid-stations where lift-access terrain areas make sense to add skiable acerage, (Homewood would be linked first).

        Key concepts to remember are that these areas choosen be usable with minimal terrain modification, tree cutting, etc. The lifts should all be fixed chairlifts that are alligned in areas that are easy to A/C and open. Areas like Twin Peaks should be a conditional sign-out skin/hike and shagback. Another consideration for KSL is to address what to do with some of their lifts that no longer are vaible. Consider Links, when its pulled could be installed from the lower reaches of National Geographic bowl back up the ridge to allow shagback to GC lift. Still a half hour hike to GC, sign-out to ski NG and run the lift say till 3:00 and you have now added an adventure/natural terrain/low impact/lowconcentration paradise to Squaw, and used a lift that meets the needs of the terrain. A spirited efffot could do round trips in an hour to hour and half. Maybe get two untracked runs on a powder day and cycle a few hundred skiers away from other concentrations. The goal is fewer mess lift lines and oversaturated areas. Day openings will still have lift lines, but moving people into greater acerage enahnces the experience and creates a draw for national and global customers.

        That’s the forward thinking that I would like to see KSL take Squaw/Alpine and lead stewarded thoughtful, purposeful growth in the area

        One final thought, It’s nice to offer pre-season mark-downs on the season pass, but how about a program where the skiers/riders could volunteer their time toward programs to assist in summer maintenance, upkeep, and environmental stewardship on the mountain, to further the cause of the managed growth, and reward locals who earn progresive discounts on their pass through their involvement. Hoping for positive growth and a better experience with respect maintained for the mountains.

      • tpinwv

        Till then baby steps, functional snowmaking and a WW interconnect addition!

  • Thatoneguy

    Troy, even if you can not make a deal with KSL to sell yet, it would be really cool of you, well it might make you the coolest dude in the basin, if you could arrange a deal that allowed hiker access to your terrain. It is such a bummer to watch all that snow go to waste every powder day. Also, please get every last dime you can from KSL if and when you do decide to sell. Peace.

  • Can't spell LAME w/out Alpine Meadows

    ,,,,but white wolf has no Chim, Chim, Chimney-a-roo,,,,

    heckler, ahem,,, heckler, u still lurking???

  • Rico

    Love the spunk, Troy. Love that you’re holding out vs. The Suits!! On one hand, your idea of your own ski/boarding area is very cool (think Silverton, Co). Altho, you’ll probably have quite a bit of traffic from those skiing between the two resorts.
    On the other hand, a good point was made above about the terrain facing south. We know that around Tahoe, those slopes slop up pretty fast once the sun comes out (think Sierra’s “backside”).
    All in all, i would probably look into working out a deal where you could own the land and lift, and perhaps lease “passage” from Alpine and Squaw. Best of both worlds. You could call the area, “Land of Troy”, or “Rico’s Ravine”…..or not.

  • Cmrn

    Keep it up Troy! It’s been a long time coming. Trust me he won’t be “selling out” any time soon. Every piece of his property has been created and put there because of him. From the heavy plow equipment he has purchased to plow the needed areas to the bases of his towers that he hired a crew to helio in and pour himself…

  • Meat Haus

    What a Clown for not taking the cash … I’ll poach his land anyway on my skis and snowmachine. Maybe throw a snowball at his wife too …

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