Squaw Valley to Alpine meadows backcountry connection via a gate system is now open. This is Squaw Valleys first backcountry gate.

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Opening Day For The KT-22 Backcountry Gate! [Unofficial Report]

KT-22′s Backcountry Gate is OPEN! 

Squaw to Alpine

Today Squaw/Alpine opened their backcountry connection. A lot of locals have scoffed at the “gate” since it accesses no real skiing and is more of a “backdoor” walk from one resort to the other. That being said, it’s Squaw’s first backcountry gate and the first step towards connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

The mission started with a ride up KT and a short ski down the Saddle. The Squaw Gate – there is only one – is located just beyond the Saddle and is very hard to miss. Upon entering the gate there is a short downward slope that runs for maybe 30 yards before it flattens out to a push along single track.

White Wolf’s owner, Troy Caldwell, and I

About 100 yards from the gate you hit a cat track that has kindly been constructed by Troy Caldwell, owner of White Wolf. Troy was out today saying hello to the skiers and giving out free hats. Troy told me that in 1969 Ski Magazine did a story on the possibility of one day connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. He was having each skier sign a sheet to mark the historic event. I am proud to say I was the 15th skier to use the Squaw/Alpine connect. Troy is a super dude and is fired up to see the Squaw/Alpine connection finally open.

Once you hit the cat track it’s about 20-30 minutes of walking before you hit the end of the trail. 

The trail dumps you out just above the Alpine Meadows parking lot in Bernie’s Bowl. From here you have a decent size pitch to get some turns in before hitting the road.

Time: All told it took me about 45 minutes from the time I left the gate at Squaw until I was at the base of Alpine. I did stop to chat with Troy for a while and snap some pics. If you were really in a hurry I bet you could do it in under a half hour.

Skiing: The only skiing along the route is the very short pitch once you leave the gate at Squaw and than the terrain just above the parking lot which is a few hundred yards. I still think this is a better option than taking the shuttle but don’t expect much of a ski experience.

Alpine to Squaw

After taking a few laps at Alpine, which is skiing great, I started the hike back to Squaw. 

The first part of the route from Squaw to Alpine heads out to the north side of Estelle Bowl and out to Bernie’s Bowl.  If you ski Alpine you are familiar with the first part of the journey back to Squaw. Just before Bernie’s Bowl, after quite a bit of sidestepping, I dropped down into the Five Lakes Basin and founds some great turns.

 The run down into the Five Lakes Basin was fantastic. Last weeks snow was still holding up well and there was not a track in sight. Once I hit the Basin I put my skins on and started out back towards Squaw. Mission acomplished.

Time: It took me about an 1:30 from the time I got off the Summit Chair till the time I was back through the gate at Squaw. If I had headed all the way out to Bernie’s Bowl and got on the cat track back to squaw it would have taken much less time. If I had taken this route I believe I could have made it back to Squaw in around an hour.

Skiing: The skiing down to the Five Lakes Basin was a lot of fun but probably not worth the 1:30 of hiking/sidestepping/skinning required to hit it.

All and all it was a fun mission. And I must say, this is the coolest think Squaw has done since merging with Alpine. Not so much for what it delivers today but for what it stands for. Go ski KT and then walk/ski over to Alpine for a few laps and you will really get a sense of the big picture. Once Squaw/Alpine is connected via White Wolf, Tahoe will have a truly world class resort on par with anything in North America.

 

15 comments
  • DP

    Thanks for the report. Does Troy plan to maintain the groomer? For those that are on a single stick, to what degree is the connection snowboard-able?

  • Ha!

    What a joke for an excuse of connection. I could drive from Heavenly to Kirkwood in that time. Or even better, get more than 3 runs in on a powdah day.

  • Ski Bro'di Duhh

    A step in the right direction?? A huge marketing step!! You can not ski white wolf, you have always been able to ski into five lakes from Alpine, and you have always been able to skin into Squaw from five lakes. Now that the pass for both mountains is the same the fun of “poaching upper mountain” is gone. That sign in the photo, the one from atop KT-22, only misleads millions of people to think Squaw has an open boundary policy. The sign should read “Andy’s Wirthless trail to Alpine”
    When Squaw Ski Patrol has to follow tracks down into five lakes and Whiskey Creek to assist/recover lost people who left the bottom of Sun Bowl, then explain to them the boundary is not open.

  • Squaw Valley gal

    This is a terrific report! Love the pictures that help create the timeline. Noone is saying that this connect is going to create the kind of side country that Jackson Hole enjoys with hikes to No Name, Cody, etc. What this does say is that Squaw is moving in the right direction by providing an introduction to the beauty and danger of skiing in the backcountry. Bravo!

    • Heckler

      Nice report Tim.
      If UN had more posts like this you might have a website worth viewing.
      Great pictures and a well written article without any false hype or cool guy lingo. Just a feel good post about the new KT-22 Gate. Thumbs up!

  • JImbo

    Anyone notice that the bottom of Tram chute now has been roped off?
    What does KSL really stand for?
    Keep
    Skiing
    Lame,
    Keep
    Standing in
    Line,
    Kan
    Squaw
    Live
    The lawyer’s are in town for sure.. SQUEAMBOAT VALLEY

  • Pingback: Connecting Mountains: Ski Area Interconnects

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