The unthinkable has occurred. Squaw Valley has bought Alpine Meadows. Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley confirmed the news with an announcement on TahoeTV today (27sept11). The simple ramifications of this announcement are that pass holders at either resort can now ski at the other.
This does not, however, mean that skiers from Squaw can legally ski over to Alpine Meadows from the top of the KT-22 chairlift. The terrain between the two is owned by Troy Caldwell who has been slowly working to develop the White Wolf ski resort, located in the between the two resorts. In fact, in a bureaucratic blunder several years ago he managed to obtain ownership to the very parcel of land that the KT lift offloads at.
No doubt he is in a very lucrative bargaining position at this point (more details at Moonshine Ink). Until that deal is closed, it appears that some sort of shuttle will probably be arranged for skiers wishing to ski at both resorts on the same day.
From a backcountry perspective this is excellent news for Squaw skiers, but dubious for Alpine skiers.
Squaw Valley has had a closed boundary policy since forever. The reason is simple. Squaw owns the land their lifts are on, so they are liable for any accidents that may occur from someone leaving their boundaries and skiing on to the surrounding forest service land.
Alpine Meadows leases their land from the forest service and when the conditions are acceptable, allow skiers to ski out of bounds. If someone were to be injured while skiing out of bounds and sued for damages, they would be suing the USFS, an entity that will not easily be made to pay for such actions.
With the combining of Squaw and Alpine, Squaw skiers will now have “legal” access to backcountry terrain from the Alpine Meadows side. Conversely, Alpine Meadows skiers who yearn for the sustained steeps of Squaw will now have access to those slopes too.
It will be interesting to see how Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows work out the logistics of this merger, particularly with regards to the missing link known as White Wolf.
Troy Caldwell’s perspective here.