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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82 Comments

  1. Dirty Lines says:

    First !

    Reply
  2. a person says:

    are there any proposals to connect via that wilderness area behind white wolf? it would be good skiing terrain but if they managed to break into that area that could lead to other huge wilderness expansions which is obviously a bad idea

    Reply
  3. el extremo says:

    One of the Top 5 Unofficial Post ever!

    Reply
  4. lachnload says:

    I understand that the permitting and design of White Wolf isn’t going to happen overnight, but why would it be compared to Homewood? White Wolf is outside of TRPAs regulation I believe so it seems like that should cut the time in half.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous says:

    another village?

    Reply
  6. Tim Konrad says:

    This is BIG news. nice job Miles!
    White Wolf could be a game changer for KSL, the 2022 olympics bid and the future of North Lake Tahoe.

    Reply
  7. surf rat says:

    Troy Caldwell got 460 acres for $350,000? What a gangsta. Why was that property so cheap, even by 1990 standards?

    Stoked about the possibilities!

    If we only had enough snow to do some research missions over on White Wolf.

    Reply
    • K says:

      Seriously, don’t ski there yet. Until they develop it and start managing that area for avalanches. People die there every couple of years trying to ski off the backside of Sqauw.

      Reply
  8. Rad Dog says:

    How did Troy manage to buy all that land for $350K? Did squaw and alpine both pass on it back in 1990? You would assume that both of them would have been fighting for it…

    Reply
    • reno local says:

      From what I heard Squaw did pass on it. Not sure of the details but seems like it was a gigantic screw up on Squaw’s part. Now the new owners are going to need to pay 25M for it

      Reply
      • White Wolf connect says:

        The story at the time was that Squaw Valley had an option to buy the land from the railroad and they thought the option will still in force, but it expired. Troy heard it was for sale and bought it. Squaw turned around and sued him at that time. The rest, as they say, is history. $350,000 was a whole lot a money in 1990. The timeline given in Mile’s story seems realistic.

        Reply
    • K says:

      My guess is it was so cheap because all that land has such a high avalanche risk. I’m sure the avalanche risk also has something to do with why he never managed to build the subdivision he had planned there. The avalanche issue is definitely going to be a challenge they’ll have to address if they want to open that area up to skiing.

      Reply
      • C says:

        Managing avalanche risk is part of the business – no big deal!

        Reply
      • Patrick says:

        i got my alpine pass pulled a few years ago for skiing whitewolf, i dont think its any worse than some of the exposure at squaw. and if you want to talk about building things where you shouldent, look at the houses below tram face,

        Reply
  9. Anonymous says:

    Awesome post! I know KSL gets a lot of bad press on this site but they get major points in my book for how they’re handling the expansion and the progress they’re making. Keep it up!

    Reply
  10. jdubbs says:

    Great post, good news. But I say lets get a few lifts in and be done with it. We don’t need a village or skating rink or other “attractions.”

    Take your big check, enjoy it, and lets get this done in the next couple of years instead of 10….I ain’t getting any younger!

    Reply
    • JG says:

      +1 They need to fast track this!

      Reply
    • Begging La Nina says:

      agreed. too many cooks and dinner will never get done. he needs to take a small equity stake and hand over the reigns so it can actually happen in my lifetime. and please give up the 3rd resort idea.

      Reply
    • Cmrn says:

      Hell no he doesn’t need to give up the reigns. He fought 15 years of legal battles out of pocket! So he could develop HIS dream. Luckily this dream includes skiing for all of us. :)))

      Reply
      • Born Savage says:

        This is what I’m thinking! Caldwell isn’t a greedy, he’s more particular about his favorite place on earth. I think he can and will use his ownership of White Wolf to leverage a deal where he can be part of the development for the Squaw-Alpine connection.

        Reply
  11. kirkwood son says:

    yea by the time this happens hopefully my kids will be shreddin up white wolf

    Reply
  12. Big Check says:

    Great post! And seriously? Take the big check and leave. We don’t need another “mountain style” village with an ice rink. This is getting ridiculous.

    Reply
  13. Sinecure says:

    Greatest news I’ve heard in a while. I knew this was the case, but it is nice to see it written down and confirmed by at least one of the parties.

    Reply
  14. Kevin says:

    All time post by one Miles Clark!

    Reply
  15. Kevin says:

    Wait, is this where Benson chimes in?

    Reply
  16. Awesome says:

    How much for the lifetime pass? I will sell both my testicles.

    Reply
  17. NIce work Miles. Cool to have some actual answers right from Troy.

    Reply
  18. Mike says:

    It’s hard to imagine the USFS opening up the wilderness area between Squaw’s Sun Bowl and Alpine’s Bernies Bowl to lift development. If that’s the case, the physical connection from Squaw to Alpine will be pretty much expert only (unless they have a download chair). That’s fine with many of us, but will it give the combined resort the ability to really claim that it’s something of value to the 99%? ;-)

    Great work getting this out there

    Reply
    • SquallyPineWolf says:

      An earlier interview with Troy stated that they will have an Intermediate groomed run which funnels/switch backs down the Canyon.

      Reply
  19. Tyler says:

    Mike – Open it up, leave it all expert only and put a funicular over the whole damn thing. At least the tourists will have a great show while they cross it.

    Reply
  20. Nick says:

    Stoked for the ice skating rink

    Reply
  21. deb says:

    Gee, I wonder what this will do to that beautiful, pristine area we all have come to know and love, The Five Lakes Trail and the campgrounds beyond it. I can’t imagine what a village, an ice skating rink, and a hotel will do to the wildlife, trees, landscape and natural beauty of the area. I’m already sick to death of looking at those stupid pylons marching up the mountain.

    Reply
    • White Wolf connect says:

      I think this can be said about any development. Troy’s land is private property and with the correct approvals, he has the right to develop it. Done correctly it would be no different than skiing the Blackcomb Glacier in Whistler/Blackcomb.

      Reply
    • Cmrn says:

      Plus the ice rink is there every winter whether you like it or not. Skated on it a couple of times, it will be much more fun once smoother over.

      Reply
    • Joey B says:

      Luckily for us, theres not going to be a resort and ice rink. Thats just Troy’s pipe dream. The last thing this area needs is another resort/ ice rink/yogurt shop/ ….. get over it already. Just move to Folsom.

      Reply
  22. SOV says:

    Atta baby, TROY!!!

    Reply
  23. Bubble Burster says:

    I take it no one did the follow up story where Troy was flown out to Vail this week so they can propose offers to him to make sure this never happens? You think KSL is the only player in this game? Why do you think it will take 1 to 2 years to get a deal done? The man is shopping around for the best deal.

    Vail will never let this happen and they have the money to stop it.

    Reply
  24. unofficialkirkwood.com says:

    vail will not be able to stop this from happening you joker…ksl will make this happen …..

    Reply
    • Bubble Burster says:

      Who has more money? If someone in the industry threatened your business you take out the threat.

      I can promise you Troy was flown out on a private jet this week to Vail to discuss this option.

      How credible can this article be if the author can’t even get the photo credits correct?

      Reply
  25. Susan says:

    Very happy about White Wolf, but Miles, where did you get that pic of ‘Troy’ on fire? I don’t think that is Troy…That is Ralph ‘Rocket’ Bertoli. His picture is on his FB page and on the wall at Jakes on the Lake, the River Ranch as well as other local establishments. Also, I am pretty sure it was Rocket that was on fire in that movie.

    Reply
  26. bone says:

    Thats Rockett on fire not Troy! Troy will make the right call for his land.

    Reply
  27. Just sayin' says:

    Sweet! Just in time for the OLYMPICS!!

    Reply
  28. Great work Miles getting the interview as well as the SFgate call-out. Keep up this kind of stuff around here

    Reply
  29. Anonymous says:

    Village? What happened to the eagles nest restaurant?

    Reply
  30. Anonymous says:

    ahhhhh, the sweet and sultry temptress called MONEY. Private jets, treated like kings, WTF, you call that TROY being true to his dreams?? Baloney,,,
    I smell Sell-Out in a big way. I like the 11-12 year plan, already enough plundering planned for Placer County.

    South facing terrain, gonna take a huge snowpack to make that ski good.

    Reply
  31. Andrew says:

    Would be pretty sweet if they could get the permits, insurance, etc. worked out and somehow give us “non-motorized” access to that area prior to the lifts being installed/operating. Don’t know what it would take to make that work especially on an avy prone south facing slope but we can always dream.

    Reply
  32. random says:

    I’m hearing, from people that are involved in the negotiations, that Troy’s number is many multiples of what most are thinking, including the big numbers thrown around in the comments here. Having skied Toonland and Whitewolf back before it became this mythical zone, nobody wants this more than me.

    Reply
  33. BIG O says:

    In ten years a 6000 acre resort will not be the largest in the USA, guaranteed.

    Reply
  34. Rocket says:

    Miles,

    Just want to let you know that the picture of the guy on fire is not Troy. It is me. Troy, David Burnam and I all did the Fire Jump for Mike Marvin in “Children of the Morning”. There are some great shots of Troy on fire but the one you used is of me.

    Reply
    • Miles Clark says:

      Thanks Rocket. I had you just as Rocket in the photo credit. I’ll put “Rocket” Ralph Bertoli in there. Badass stunt Rocket!

      Reply
  35. Nick Aster says:

    The Rogue Lift shall be rogue no more!

    Reply
  36. MARK says:

    I’m 52 years old and have lived in north lake all my life,except for my military years.I love this place we are so blessed spring,summer ,fall and of course the greatest winter wonderland on earth.For so many years we have wondered what if ? It would be great if all this could come together with the speed of a downhill racer.

    Reply
  37. Skip says:

    Troy Caldwell is a perfect example of what’s wrong with this country. He basically kidnapped this land, and is now holding it hostage. He literally has nothing else to do with his summer time than harass casual hikers who veer off the Five Lakes Trail. He’ll get very wealthy for doing nothing of any value for anyone, and when he sells the land, he’ll only pay %15 capital gains tax. (If Newt has his way, Troy won’t pay any tax at all.) We’ll all have to pay higher lift ticket prices, just so Troy Caldwell can get rich. I think Placer County should declare eminent domain and force Mr. Caldwell to sell to KSL for $350,001.

    Reply
    • King of the Hill says:

      Why you so butt hurt a man bought a peice of property and wants to make something of it. He is not an example of what’s wrong, he is the perfect example of an American and the dream we all have. He bought a peice of land that to many is undesirable due to the inability to build much of anything on it. Now he is in an amazing position to cash in on his purchess and everything he has had to endure.
      Open your eyes and your mind and relize what is going on. You did not buy the property and their for hold no ground on what Troy should do with it or how he should manage it. Just be grateful that you were able to set foot on it as it is privat property and you have no rite to it.

      Reply
    • Gas says:

      I think opinions like yours are what’s wrong with this country. Why hack on a guy who saw an opportunity, had the means, the vision, and the sack to stay at it for this long, putting up his own cash the whole time to see it through. How did he “Kidnap” this land? Nothing he’s done was unfair or illegal. He’s a guy who saw an opportunity and jumped on it, then battled on his own dime for years. He’s exactly what’s Right about this country. Took a risk with his own nuts on the line (as opposed to a bank or investment fund that takes risks with other people’s money…) fought and worked for years, and is now realizing the benefit. If more people were able to make good on the opportunities in life there’d be a whole lot fewer people bitching about how much or little the next guy’s tax bill is. Whining about other people’s taxes not providing you with enough free shit is pathetic.

      Reply
    • Anonymous says:

      Troy’s the man!!! > You’re a clown. Jealous???

      Reply
    • Jason says:

      YOU ARE A KOOK.

      Reply
    • Conifer says:

      Skip you are one bitter Dude. Good Luck With That! Thanks to the rest of you for all your insightful comments.

      Reply
  38. Waysickerskiierthanyou says:

    finerry

    Reply
  39. Jason says:

    while they are at it, they should string a t-bar over to tinkers nob.

    Reply
  40. Phil says:

    No PR needed. Just a killer story. I’m going to shred it top to bottom.

    Reply
  41. DUDE! says:

    MILES! that jumper is Ralph Bertoli. Figure it out.

    P.S. Benson rules.

    Reply
  42. skibs says:

    F@#% squaw, n ya F&@$# sqauw

    Reply
  43. Ski Both says:

    To Skip, you are not a nice person. Troy is one of the kindest people on this earth and the fact that you point your finger at him just shows what a fool you are. Did you know that Troy ALLOWS people to hike on the Five Lakes Trail that CROSSES his property???? I’ve hiked it a million times in the last 20 years and he has never came out and said anything to myself or anyone I have ever spoken to, so if he did say something to you it was most likely because you are a rude and cruel person, shame on you. Get some kindness into your heart, oh yeah and Happy Holidays, hope you break a leg!

    Reply
  44. craig says:

    maybe skip can “occupy” a white wolf avy zone

    Reply
  45. Range of Light says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Mammoth Lakes and June Mountain combine between the San Joaquin Ridge “Dave McCoy’s dream” before this Tahoe cement project actually happens…think about it…a gigantic euro style resort with real glaciers…and the snow is so much better in the high country of the Eastern Sierra Nevada!…jealousy will get you nowhere?

    Reply
  46. Frank Blaha says:

    7 years of permit acquisition to get this done is nonsense and shows what is wrong with America. This section of the mountains already hosts 2 ski resorts and White Wolf already has a ski lift in place. We are losing ground as a country all around the world due to the red tape we have in place that prevents progress and this permit process is a great example. The 3 resorts should be connected and running 2 years from now and they would be if this was China or India. 30 years from now when our children are taking orders from those 2 countries we can point to our environmental foot dragging and know why.

    Reply

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