‘A new chapter’: Palisades Tahoe opens Base to Base Gondola
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Palisades Tahoe this morning opened its Base to Base Gondola, realizing a decades old dream of connecting Alpine Meadows to Olympic Valley.
Officials from Palisades Tahoe were on hand for a simultaneous grand opening celebration at both mountain bases as hundreds of eager skiers and riders awaited the ribbon cutting and their chance to ride the new gondola.
“It’s amazing to think that our kids and the new generation will grow up thinking about Alpine and Palisades collectively as one mountain and their home mountain,” said ski legend Jonny Moseley.
The gondola, which spans 2.4 miles between the two resorts, began spinning shortly before 9 a.m. It ascends a total of 3,105 vertical feet, spans two zip codes, and takes roughly 15 minutes to take passengers from one base terminal to the other with a stop at the new KT Mid station. The gondola will offer skiers and riders two ways to reach the resort’s iconic Kt-22 and has the capability of operating as one continuous lift or two separate lifts.
“We’ve opened a new chapter in our storied history,” said Dee Byrne, Palisades Tahoe President and COO. “Combining these valleys, these legendary mountains, and our community is a top priority for us. We’re going to be excellent stewards of our past going forward.”
The Base to Base Gondola is part of $85 million in improvements that have been made by Palisades Tahoe ahead of the 2022-23 winters season. The connection makes the resort one of the largest in North America.
The gondola is also be the first in North America to utilize fully-automated parking, allowing for its 96 cabins to be unloaded and stored indoors in 20 minutes at the push of a button. Storing the cabins indoors keeps ice off them meaning less were work for crews in the morning before allowing guests to hop on the gondolas.
The cabins also have a one-way radio that will allow for mountain operations to communicate with guests about weather conditions, lift closures, traffic, and other information.
“It’s unbelievable to be here,” said Mark Brownlie, Alterra Mountain Company Chief Operating Officer – Mountains. “For me today is all about the gratitude that we share and being able to be lucky enough to be able live, work, and play in such and awe inspiring environment.”
Alterra Mountain Company owns and operates Palisades Tahoe.
In total, the gondola features four terminals, 33 lift towers, and 96 cabins, each of which seats up to eight people. It has the capacity to transport 1,400 passengers per hour.
The lift was closed this week to finalize work to interconnect the KT Mid Station, which will make the Base to Base Gondola one complete loop. The resort will still have the option of operating the two lifts separately. The resort plans to reopen the Base to Base Gondola on Saturday.
Brownlie closed the ribbon cutting ceremony by thanking those that helped bring the Base to Base Gondola into reality.
“From envisioning to placing the last bolt, it’s been an incredible journey,” said Brownlie. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your passion, your dedication, and your skills in this amazing team.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune.
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