In light of Squaw Valley’s ongoing bad press, related to the traffic-conjestion basically every day of the week these days (guaranteed over an hour to get to Squaw from Tahoe City on weekends, no matter what time), as well as constant delayed start times, and seemingly unwarranted lift-closures (locals claim Squaw is holding terrain for weekend visitors), Andy Wirth CEO and President of KSL Ski Corporation, the parent-company of Squaw Valley issued a personal letter to each and every skier and rider yesterday.
Andy went over the incredibly difficult conditions we’ve had thus far this year, from extreme hurricane-speed winds at the upper mountain, to rain, and of course the 23 feet we got in January, that absolutely BURIED the area. This winter has most assuredly been one for the books. Andy also touched on the tragedies our community has gone through this winter, which should be a very strong reminder to all of us that while we live in a place imbued with such adventure and excitement, there are risks and consequences.
Andy explained in his letter the initiatives Squaw Valley is taking to help combat the congestion and environmental strain that every ski resort, and in fact, every human, should be addressing, as well as a new technology they’ve invested in, to help mitigate the risk our ski patrollers undergo every day in their jobs. From providing a shuttle service through Squaw and Alpine during peak Christmas ski season, to their new carpool parking area, providing prime parking spots to those that come with 4+ skiers in one car, Squaw is chipping away at the traffic issue. Clearly traffic is still a huge issue, and I’d like to see how exactly we can combat this. Hopefully more on-site properties will help alleviate this?
Squaw Valley, Andy states, has invested over $1.5 million in an incredible new on-mountain detonation system, but “Gazex“. Essentially huge explosive tubes, Squaw has installed five throughout the mountain. According to Gazex, these machines have an underground tank with a mixture of Oxygen and Propane, which can be used throughout the season, without re-filling! I’d like to see one of those tanks…. From Gazex’s website:
When the gas mixture explodes, the force of the explosion is directed towards the snow, producing three effects:
- a direct push into snow under the open end of the exploder.
- a shock wave that produces an overpressure and then a negative pressure that lifts up the snow.
- an indirect sympathetic effect on the adjacent snow mantle.”
Andy’s letter also noted their new app (which I think is actually pretty great and helpful), as a great tool to navigate the mountain and operation status.
All in all Squaw Valley is doing an amazing job, and really has the most bad-ass and exciting terrain. I love this mountain, and I love this town! The feeling at the end of the day, the apres scene, the happiness after a day of exhilaration and camaraderie is palpable. Kudos to Andy Wirth for reaching out to his clients, and a big thank you to mountain operations and ski patrollers for the unrelenting work.