LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) – Construction crews are laying the groundwork and the underground work that will support the Tahoe region’s first-ever base-to-base gondola, connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.
At this point in the project, helicopters are delivering buckets of concrete to the places on the mountain where support structures will be anchored.
“Power lines, internet lines, snowmaking pipes that are all under the ground that we need to make sure that we’re rerouting, not getting in the way of when we’re constructing this lift,” said Squaw-Alpine public relations manager Alex Spychalsky. “We’re using the helicopter to do things that you could use a truck to do but it’ll be more environmentally sound to use a helicopter for.”
Spychalsky explained the project is many years in the making.
The two resorts had to first come to an agreement with a landowner so the gondola could cross over private property, and there was a long environmental review process.
Now it’s just up to the weather, the visibility and the availability of construction materials.
Some of the helicopter pilots had to take time off this project to go fight fires.
“With any construction project, obviously, timelines are very dependent on a lot of different variables,” Spychalsky told FOX40.
Because of this, the resort is not yet announcing a target completion date.
“We’re really made a lot of progress on this project and we’re really looking forward to see how far we get before the season,” Spychalsky said.
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows joined forces as one resort in 2011, but to get from one base to the other, visitors had to drive seven miles.
That can be a very long seven miles when the roads are covered in snow. The gondola solves that problem.
“When it’s completed, it’s going to be great. People will be able to go from one mountain to the other in about 16 minutes. They won’t have to get in their cars. We can take some cars off the road in between the two resorts,” Spychalsky said.
Squaw Valley, which will have a new name this fall, is open during construction for hiking, biking, aerial tram rides and just taking in the scenery.
“There are some hiking trails toward the bottom that have some detours in place right now because we really don’t want people getting in the way of any of the construction work for their safety,” Spychalsky said. “So if you head to our website, squawalpine.com before your visit, you can check what hiking trails might be a little bit different than usual.”
The gondola will be able to move 1,400 people per hour in eight-passenger cabins.
Skiers and snowboarders will have the option of disembarking near the KT-22 ridge.