There are two iconic North Tahoe ski facilities at under the control of Andy Wirth, CEO of KSL Capital Partners. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have existed within sight of one another for thousands of years, but they were separated. Read more: andy wirth | POWDER Magazine
In business, they were two separate entities competing against one another for many years, until 2011. That is when Alpine Meadows was purchased and now both mountains are connected financially, working as one business. However, to physically connect to two mountains is a different matter.
Andy Wirth has just recently put the final touches on a plan to connect both mountains by building a gondola between them. This was reported in a recent issue of Powder Magazine.
Previously, if a skier or snowboarder wanted to ski both mountains in a day, they would have to pack all their stuff in a car and drive to the other, unpack and then get going. This was not efficient and it seemed there should be a better way. Read more: Squaw Valley’s Andy Wirth appointed chair of Reno airport board
The idea of connecting the two mountains has been around for a long time, but with different ownerships that seemed to lack the ability to get different groups to come together for a common goal, it was just an idea with no real potential.
Andy Wirth has approached the gondola connection as an opportunity that would benefit all parties involved. That type of foresight and flexibility is just what the plan needed. In order to build the gondola from the base of Squaw Valley over a ridge known as White Wolf to the base of Alpine Meadows. Learn more about Andy Wirth: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfSquawValley/posts/10152191670133708 and http://www.powder.com/stories/news/squaw-valley-alpine-meadows-announce-base-to-base-gondola/#fqCtqOzLB08OBTML.97
The ridge in question is owned by Troy Caldwell, who was the key to making this connection a reality. Previously, he was approached as an enemy and he fought against the project. Wirth approached Caldwell as a partner and built a partnership that would benefit all parties involved and that approach has proven successful.
This connection will help to solidify the tourist attraction of the area to skiers and snowboarders of all ages for many years to come. There are still a few challenges to handle before the gondola becomes a reality. There are parts of a wilderness area that may or may not be affected by the construction of the gondola.
Andy Wirth has a respect for the wilderness in the area and preserving the pristine nature of the area. His grandfather helped write the Wilderness Act of 1963, and he is familiar with the restrictions on protected land. Since none of the construction is on that land the project should go through, but some naturalists will want to be assured that no protected areas will be affected.
Throughout his professional career Andy Wirth has been a person who builds consensus to find common ground to get things accomplished.
The gondola project is just another example of this. Having this connection makes the area more attractive to skiers and snowboarders during ski season and for hikers, bikers and nature enthusiasts during the off season.