Within the Olympic Valley are the Granite Chief Wilderness Area and Five Lakes. The proposed building of a gondola service might affect some of these areas. Andy Wirth was questioned in a recent interview on this exact matter and wether he saw any risk of imposing on this area with the construction. The land dividing the two areas of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows belongs to Troy Caldwell and therefore the line of construction will not affect the Wilderness Area. Andy Wirth was a wildlife ranger in his youth and his grandfather has actually helped write the Wilderness Act of 1963. He is therefore extremely familiar with this important piece of legislation. All construction for the gondola will be undertaken on private property and therefore will not impose on the Granite Wilderness Area. There is however one exception and that is on the Alpine Meadows side of the mountain which actually falls under United States Forest Service land.
This construction could possibly make Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley one of the largest ski areas in the continental United States. Andy Wirth believes timing of the construction is pivotal but it is not about the sheer size of the project rather it is more the experience that joining the two areas will provide the skiers and snowboarders. The areas will provide some of the best ski experiences in North America which we can soon compare with the likes of Whistler or Blackcomb. The gondola promises to reduce vehicle traffic between the mountains but by how much is too soon to tell. 20 to 25 percent of visitors ski on both mountains. Just to put that into more common terms, 1 out of every 4 customers on any day will attend both mountains on the same day which was a surprise for Andy Wirth who had the data compiled. He believes that most peoples view of the mountain will change over time but how significant it will be, only time will tell.
The incorporation battle which was recently reviewed in an article in the Reno-Gazette Journal can be viewed here. This battle alongside a severe drought has plagued the Olympic Valley community for several years. Andy Wirth CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Resort believes things will change for the good. The weather will allow adequate snow fall and allow resorts to open sooner. The incorporation was held up thanks to Andy Wirth’s efforts. He feared that higher taxes and less services like snow plowing and road maintenance would be the end result. Thankfully the community can now mend wounds and focus their efforts on current issues as well as local transportation.