Squawllywood’s World Cup Not Exactly Running Over…

The World Cup will return to Squaw Valley after a hiatus of fifty years or more… exciting news for sure! Unfortunately most of us will not be able to enjoy it. The Grandstand seats have already sold out, but, you can can get some VIP tix for only $1400 apiece. Chump change for billionaires, this pricing structure knocks most of the rest of us rough and tumble middle classers off the table. Just not going to happen.

And unfortunately, this is often what happens when resorts grow bigger and more exclusive. Thinking back to Aspen’s growth and how all the workers ended up moving down valley because they were priced out of the market… the latest push for more development at Squaw is likely to be a similar experience. You can bet Andy Wirth and his buddies will there though… and with fur lined jackets to boot.



Sometimes Less is More

Photographer: Max Rainoldi Location: Squaw Valley Stables, Olympic Valley, CA 96146

Photographer: Max Rainoldi Location: Squaw Valley Stables, Olympic Valley, CA 96146

If you haven’t been following the fight over the suburbanization of Squaw Valley, I’ll fill you in and I promise to be as unbiased as Fox News in the process… Fair and Balanced, Right? Last week the Placer County Planning Department voted to kiss Andy Wirth and KSL Capital Partners on the forehead and recommend the project move forward. It will now go to the County Supervisors for final approval. The project calls for the construction of 850 residential units, a 300,000 square foot commercial space and a 90,000 square foot Adventure Center (oh boy, indoor recreation… that’s why I go to the mountains…) Did I leave out improvement to the ski hill, oh yeah, so did KSL.

Despite over a 3:1 ratio of public comments and hundreds of people against the project, as well as testament from the California Highway Patrol, Sierra Club and the California State Attorney General that the plan, as it stands now, would over tax the existing infrastructure, the development plan was allowed to go forward by a panel that seemed extremely bored while listening to the impassioned speeches from both sides. Word on the street is that Squaw actually bussed employees in for the meeting with promises of a free breakfast and what not, hell, they were probably paid shills as well, development mercenaries,  firing opinions at will. Opinions for dollars… how could you go wrong? As much justice and equity as money can buy…

Any of us that have been skiing at Squaw or Alpine on a Sunday and had to file out with the skier traffic Northbound knows that the existing highway infrastructure is already maxed out. You might sit in traffic for what seems like hours while it crawls toward 80 and the inevitable slog back West to the suburbs of the Grey Area. With that many more people imagine a wildfire like the ones we have seen on TV lately where every auto and building goes up in smoke. In a rapid evacuation scenario, there is just no way those folks are making it out of harms way on Highway 89. Ain’t gunna happen. Might as well sit yourself down in Cushing Pond and hope you can hold your breath for a long time while the fire burns overhead as sit in your mobile BBQ on wheels.

Not to mention the effect on the mountain, the local stores (try grocery shopping in Truckee on a holiday, you need insurance on your cart AND your mental health as it is now). In terms of emergencies… the medical infrastructure is also not up to the task. Getting ambulances and firetrucks up or down Highway 89 in traffic… well, as they say in The Bronx… “Forget about it.”

The meeting for the passage of the development plan (read: Death Star) with the Placer County Supervisors has not been set yet but we will keep you informed. And in terms of KSL’s integrity, let me remind you that not much has been done on the ski hill itself to improve the aging infrastructure despite all the high minded promises Andy Wirth and KSL came to the table with when they first purchased the property. One thing did happen, Alpine Meadows is no longer the layback wonderfully smaller little sister of world famous Squaw Valley. Instead, its become merely KSL’s Cinderella and there are many of us old timers out here hoping Alpine finds her Winter Fairy Godmother sooner than later and that this  whole thing goes up in smoke so that Alpine can once more return to her former glory.

To get more info please check out Andrew Pridgen’s new article in the latest electronic edition of Powder which just arrived in my inbox today at:

OPINION: The Rebels’ Attempt in Squaw

It is well worth it and offers some great new shirt designs.



Summer Wanderings…

Mt. Rose sent out an email today letting everyone know that their passes are in the mail which is not really reason enough to break my summer silence… but the video they sent IS reason enough. If you haven’t seen this yet… its worth checking out:

You will be super glad you did!


powMS March

Chutes Accident…

Sorry to report that one of our locals was hurt fairly badly in Yellowjacket last week. After a high side fall at the conclusion of a turn to avoid rocks up high in the choke, the female skier found herself in an uncontrolled slide many hundreds of vertical feet at a high rate of speed toward the boulders at the bottom. Luckily, one of her party basically tackled her into a stop before she hit the bouldery and stumpy bottom of the chute. Thankfully, the party did have enough man power to evacuate her without assistance and get her to the hospital. Major leg injuries necessitated surgery with lots of pins, screws and plates installed. The road to recovery will be a long one. However, she is a tough bird and will undoubtedly outperform the doctor’s expectations.

This is a good warning to all. Chute skiing in the spring and early summer is dangerous by its very nature. The snow surface is typically narrow, runnelled, cupped and interrupted by bomb craters.. The surface conditions can turn on a dime from slush to ice quickly with just a few degrees difference. There are new stumps and rocks poking their ugly little heads up everyday, the chute bottoms are filled with boulders, stumps and various avalanche debris. Basically, it is just plain ugly down there. Unlike the normal ski season, where most of the Rose chutes have a nice snowy outrun, the chutes this time of year end in the chaos of stumps, rocks and avy debris that will almost certainly lead to nasty injury or death if you hit them at any speed in an uncontrolled slide.

Still interested? Make sure your mind and edges are sharp and you are skilled in performing a pole arrest in steep terrain. Of course kayaking or swimming Lake Tahoe may offer a better option for even the most skilled diehard skier this time of year as well. Whatever your pleasure, I wish you the best of luck, skill and an attitude of gratitude for whatever adventurous path you choose to take on.

May the odds be forever in your favor…



crossbones copy

Last Run?

Last run…maybe… although they beckon so when the light is magical at sunset and the mountain is all ours, but alas, The Chutes are looking pretty barren lately. This could be it. Had a great run last night at sunset with Peter and Naia. It is most definitely our last run down El Cap as the rock hopping has become too extreme for everyone but a guy like Mark Helleckson who seems to be able to take the crater marked chutes at mock 70 and jump large expanses of rocks and stumps… not me though. Was a beautiful sunset nevertheless and always a worthy adventure! Saddle is still skiable if you need to scratch your “Chutes” itch…


The Chutes Last Hurrah: Sometimes PBR is reason enough!

Each run is “my last”. But each “last run” becomes the second and then, third to last run as a new phone call invite comes in or the memories of a sundown on Slide bother my sleep and make me rethink that “last run” edict. So… these photos are actually second to actual last run with Nate and Sherry. From the walk up to one “hang in there turn” after another we have had a great time on every “last run” this month. We found a PBR on the way up that had been chilling in the snow all winter long… and I’ll tell you what, I am not  particularly keen on Fred Pabst products… but that beer was the best beer I had ever had while watching a glorious sunset at the base of The Chutes. Funny how good a crappy beer can taste once you’ve slid down a narrow, rocky, bomb cratered, debris strewn 45 degree chute on a couple of boards.

However… after walking over a 10′ rock gap on my skis and another 30 footer down below to catch that last ribbon of snow toward the walk out trail, my bases and I are done, unless we get a big dump later in the month. So… El Cap is finished for the year unless you are willing to just connect the stripes. There is but one choice left, Saddle is still skiable, skinny stripe from the top, and I suspect…. I may just have one more “last run” in me before my season is over. Hope you enjoy the pics as much as we enjoyed making them!