Remember all that talk and hype last season about the $50 million that KSL was planning to spend on resort renovations?  Well, they might not have been blowing smoke after all.  The reality of new ownership with some pretty big plans for change is steadily replacing the talk and the hype.  Squaw Valley Ski Resort recently submitted a revised version of the Squaw Valley 2012 Capital Projects proposal to Placer County and we thought you might want to know about a few of the changes that are in store. Most of the planned work presented in 2012 Capital Projects proposal is slated to take place over the 2012 summer in preparation for the 2012/2013 ski season.  So don’t forget to take some pictures while you’re out riding Squaw this year people, because the times they are a changing.

(click to enlarge)

The 2012 Squaw Valley Capital Projects, which has been submitted to Placer County, has to do with “addressing occupational efficiencies and improving the overall recreational experience,” so as to “better meet guest’s needs and expectations.” The project  was initially scheduled for 2011, but this has since been moved to the summer of 2012. Interestingly, the projected skier capacity in the beginner areas that are subject to change will be less than the current capacity. While the beginner area can currently  carry 8,400 skiers per hour, the new plan would only carry 7,200 skiers per hour. In the proposal the emphasis for the need for change is on redistributing/dispersing the crowds on the upper mountain, both for their enjoyment and the fluidity of lift operations.

The proposal’s official list of alterations:

1. Removal of five existing fixed grip chairlifts (Links, Granite Chief, High Camp Chair, Bailey’s Beach and East Broadway)
2. Renovation and re-installation of the high camp lift at the new alignment (Links)
3. Installation of two new detachable lifts: one on the same alignment of the existing Granite Chief and one extending from the current base terminal of the existing High Camp lift to near the top terminal of the existing East Broadway lift
4. Installation of two new rope-tow style surface lifts
5. A net reduction in skier capacity, from 8.400 to 7,200 skiers per hour

New Links unloading terminal (click to enlarge)
New High Camp loading terminal (click to enlarge)
New High Camp unloading terminal (click to enlarge)


Item of interest Numero Uno!

Granite Chief chair will be removed and replaced by a high speed detachable lift prior to the 2012/13 season!

A faster Granite Chief lift is probably long overdue, but wow, this is a big change! It feels kinda like one of those things you’ve been expecting to happen for a really long time but are still totally surprised by when it actually does.  Whamo! GRANITE CHIEF EXPRESS!!!  I’m gonna miss the old poke, something about that chair in that place always felt right.  One more season with the three pack then it’s onward and upward.  I wonder if it will affect the lift lines much.

As stated in Squaw’s proposal, “the existing chairlift is frequently over crowded on busy days and the slow ride time is frustrating as it limits the amount of skiing that can be achieved in a day, given the relatively limited number of operating hours at this remote area”. Granite’s current capacity is 1,800 skiers per hour  and will be replaced by a high speed detachable lift with the capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour.  This project is unique to the other lift replacements in that, “there is no road access to the lift’s top terminal, the proposed lift installation would reuse most of the existing towers along the line, and the lift installation would require significant tree removal”.

-Materials lifted to top of granite via heli
-Both terminals would be removed via heli
-Between 11 and 8 towers would be reused
-The no used towers will be removed via heli
-Construction materials and equipment would be moved to locations via heli
-Each new tower would cause approximately 600 square feet of ground disturbance
-The loading terminal will cause approximately 12000 square feet of ground disturbance for excavation and grading
-The offloading terminal would cause approximately 30000 square feet of ground disturbance for excavation and grading
-Excavated materials would be stored on site
-Concrete will be transported via truck or heli depending on accessibility
-An estimated 68 trees would be removed
-Vegetation will be replanted to minimize erosion from disturbed ground

Similar checklist is described in regards to the replacement of the other 4 lifts in the proposal

Replacing Granite Chief will undoubtedly stir up earth and have somewhat of an environmental impact. With Squaw’s recent acclamations regarding environmentalism, this projected construction may pose a threat to Squaw current reputation as a “green resort”. As shown on the construction plans below, two types of barrier walls will be constructed depending on the areas need for silt/runoff management. These include silt fences and fiber roll instillation. In some circumstances, say both may be used. Taking a look at the plans, it appears that all environmental hazards from the result of construction are accounted for and the details of these are acutely addressed in the proposal. Looks like Squaw will hold onto their “green” title.


A new lift for Granite Chief is completely understandable, but why so much emphasis on beginner areas? Yes, most of us Squallwood types don’t frequent Links or Bailey’s Beach, but we have bombed through there enough times to know that the congestion there pales in comparison with the congestion of the lower mountain on a powder day. Oh well, still a welcomed change.


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43 replies on “The Complete Breakdown: Squaw Valley’s 2012 Capital Projects Proposal”