A to-be-constructed gondola connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in California could create one of the largest ski resorts in America.
With 6,000 acres of connected slopes the resort will be European in scale. In all, riders will have access to about 270 runs and 42 chairlifts.
The two areas — both massive resorts in their current form — will be able to move tens of thousands of skiers uphill each hour.
Though the mega-resort will likely not come to fruition until the 2016/17 season, the news this week is that the co-owned areas formed a crucial agreement with a third party to let the gondola span private land.
The two-mile-long lift will transport riders between the two ski areas across a swath of land known as White Wolf. Developers are moving to start construction pending approval from local officials.
Although a day or season pass currently affords users the ability to ride in both ski areas, up until now it involved a 20-minute drive or shuttle ride on congested mountain roads.
“For decades, skiers and riders have talked about connecting these two world-class resorts,” said Andy Wirth, president of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings.
The private White Wolf property will not be available for skiing, but the connection will make Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows one of the largest ski areas in the United States.
Whistler-Blackcomb Resort in Canada holds the title for the largest resort in North America with more than 8,ooo acres of skiable terrain. In America, Utah’s Powder Mountain and Park City/Canyons are both about 7,000 acres.
All these mega-resorts might be washed over if something called the One Wasatch project happens. This will link seven Utah resorts together to offer a behemoth 18,000 skiable acres and 100+ lifts.
The Squaw announcement comes on the heals of one of the driest winters in recent memory in the Sierra Nevadas. Squaw Valley was forced to cancel a World Cup event and compensate its season pass holders for unused days.
Here’s hoping for snow when the gondola opens for skiers looking to experience a true European style ski experience right here in the U.S.