50th Anniversary at Squaw Valley | TahoeDailyTribune.com

50th Anniversary at Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley is making major progress in adding lifts and facilities. This is the 50th anniversary of the resort, which has a scheduled opening date of Nov. 13 and regular operations beginning Nov. 19.

And what a change from the site of the 1960 Olympics, when Alex Cushing practically fashioned Squaw Valley out of thin air.

Last year it was the Funitel, a multi-million-dollar replacement of the old gondola. The Funitel offers large cabins from a base just outside the base resort facilities. Thanks to its dual cable support, it is able to operate in winds that would have closed the old gondola.

Now Squaw has added two six-passenger chairlifts, again with the objective of being able to operate safely in windy weather. The six-seater chair weighs in at 1,030 pounds vs. the typical quad at 425 pounds. Obviously, the heavier chair can handle more wind.

One of the six-pacs has replaced the old Headwall lift, the other replaced Gold Coat and Mainline chairs up to Emigrant Peak. With these new lifts, “We won’t tell people when they can and can’t ski, they’ll tell us,” says Cushing, Squaw’s founder and chairman.

The Emigrant Peak lift will allow skiing to the Shirley Lake quad and from there to the Granite Chief black diamond, a favorite with advanced skiers. And on good days, the Silverado lift will offer some off-piste fun from there.

And of all things, Squaw is reopening the old Olympic Lady two-seater, which takes skiers to the top of KT-22, thus allowing for repeat runs in the G.S. Bowl without having to go all the way down to the KT-22 chair base. Squaw veterans will applaud this move.

Squaw now offers 30 lifts, including the new cars for the cable car ride. And the lifts are linked to the Squaw Creek triple, which serves the very posh Squaw Creek Resort Hotel.

The resort also added four more grooming machines for a fleet of 23 high-tech machines. And snow guns have been added to the upper mountain area around the Gold Coast. An added 5,000 feet of deck space has been added at the Olympic House sundeck, which will greatly enlarge the deck for viewing competition.

And a Discovery Center at the east end of the vast parking lot (especially vast when you get there after 9:30 a.m. and have to go cross country to the lifts) offers a 2,300-square-foor model of the future 13-acre village to be built on the parking lot and include 640 residential units and a space for shops. This will make up for the lack of housing at the resort for visitors.

Lift tickets for all-day adults go for $52 this season, with various prices for teen-agers, seniors and the like.

And for the pure vacationers who like something different, the Tahoe Queen will offer ski shuttle service from South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City, and then by bus to the resort.

And Squaw has teamed up with Nordica, new to ski making but old to skiing. A Nordica Performance Center will stock 1,500 pairs of the new Wave skis for demos, planned to be a regular event.

In case you missed it, Nordica bought out Kstle ski company last season and added some of the old-line company’s technical advances to its new line. But don’t expect to be dazzled by the Nordica skis: the ones I’ve seen are as drab as those of the ’60s.

Squaw continues to grown, to improve with Cushing’s objective always in mind – “The be the best ski resort in the world.”

He’s working on it.

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