Cover: Unofficial rendering of roughly the new gondola line.
*We have made a number of updates to this post after receiving more information on the plan from Squaw/Alpine.
The Placer County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved the “Base-to-Base” Gondola connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The new California Express Gondola will have terminals near the base of Red Dog at Squaw Valley and the base area of Alpine Meadows with mid-stations on Saddle run near the KT-22 patrol shack and another @ White Wolf. The Red Dog chair base terminal will be moved just southeast near Red Wolf Lodge.
The new scenic connection will allow skiers to travel between the ski base areas without having to go by vehicle.
“Under Alternative 4, the lift would still be configured as an eight-passenger gondola and would have a design capacity of approximately 1,400 persons per hour in each direction. Operational characteristics would be as described for Alternative 2. In total, the lift would be roughly 11,700 feet in length (based on plan length), of which approximately 2,300 feet (20 percent) would be sited on NFS lands, including the Alpine Meadows base terminal. A total of 33 towers would be installed along the gondola alignment under Alternative 4, with 28 on private land and five on NFS lands.”—Placer County Final Environmental Impact Report: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Base-to-Base Gondola Project
Squaw Valley Terminal
Squaw Valley Mid-station
Alpine Meadows Mid-station
Alpine Meadows Terminal
The Alpine base terminal will be located to the southeast of the Alpine Meadows base lodge. The Squaw Valley base terminal will be located between Exhibition and relocated Red Dog lift.
The US Forest Service and Placer County chose ‘Alternative 4’ – the eastern-most route under consideration, and the path most distant from designated wilderness lands as the final layout of the gondola.
“After successfully obtaining preliminary approval from the Tahoe National Forest earlier this year, the unanimous approval by the Placer County Board of Supervisors represents one of the last crucial steps towards connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. This base-to-base gondola connection will tremendously enhance the skier experience, uniting our 6,000 acres of terrain without the need for a car. Moreover, the chosen alignment arrived at through this long and detailed process is the most environmentally favorable plan and is also the alignment which is located furthest away from the Wilderness boundary. I’d like to thank all of the staff of the many agencies involved in the comprehensive study and review of this project – their tireless effort ensured that the best possible project moved forward. I’d also like to thank the thousands of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows skiers and riders who signed petitions in support.” Ron Cohen, President and COO, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
The new California Express Gondola will be an 8-passenger gondola with the capacity of transporting 1,400 persons per hour. The Squaw leg would allow skiers to exit at the top of KT or continue to Alpine Meadows.
As it stands, no access will be allowed into White Wolf ski area (the zone between Squaw & Alpine).
No word yet on when construction will begin, but Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has previously stated that the installation will take 10 weeks once plans are approved.