Placer County officials have approved a gondola between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts in the Lake Tahoe area so skiers and snowboarders won’t have to leave the snow and drive or take shuttle to access the two mountains.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows said the approval came after approval by the Placer County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. The next step will be final approval by federal officials who manage Tahoe National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service has already given preliminary approval, according to Liesl Hepburn, public relations director at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
The eight-passenger cabins will take skiers and riders from the base of Red Dog chair at Squaw Valley to the base area of Alpine Meadows, a 2.2-mile ride. The lift will be capable of moving 1,400 people per hour so they can enjoy 6,000 combined acres of skiable terrain. From base to base, the trip will take about 16 minutes and run only in the winter.
“It generally takes at least 30 minutes to get on snow on the other side, and depends on traffic and driving conditions, as well,” Hepburn told The Sacramento Bee. “With the gondola, skiers, riders and staff won’t need to leave the snow and use a car, and we expect it to be about a 16 minute ride.”
The construction will take two and a half months, the resort said, but there is no estimated date for starting the work and no estimated opening date.
“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,” said Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, in a statement. “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.
The gondola’s proximity to the Granite Chief Wilderness created friction with environmentalists for several years. After 2,400 pages of studies, Cohen said the approved plan is “the most environmentally favorable.”
“Moreover, the chosen alignment arrived at through this long and detailed process is the most environmentally favorable plan, located furthest away from the wilderness boundary,” Cohen said.