Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows – A Pictorial
By Jim Kenney, aka JamesJ
EpicSki Travel Correspondent
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are neighboring ski areas in California’s North Lake Tahoe Region that represent one of North America’s premier ski resort tandems, right up there with the likes of Alta-Snowbird and Whistler-Blackcomb. I visited these fantastic mountains for the first time on consecutive days in early January 2013. That is the skier’s equivalent of trying to tour New York City and Boston on the same weekend. These mountains are big enough and bold enough to keep a strong skier/rider entertained for consecutive YEARS.
Combining these two resorts in one pictorial is an affront to their majesty in a sense, but as you’ll see from the photos they have much in common sharing the same High Sierra topography and snowpack. Both areas feature renowned advanced terrain and an if you can see it, you can ski it ethic. Squaw Valley is for the extrovert who likes to ski hair raising terrain in front of a large audience. Alpine Meadows is for the introvert who likes to explore off-piste steeps in near solitude.
Squaw and Alpine are operated separately, but owned by the same company (KSL Capital Partners LLC) and share the same season pass (along with Sierra-at-Tahoe). The trail layouts are within about a mile of each other. An official physical link by trail and/or lift for use by the public has been discussed for years and seems to be tantalizingly close to realization. Whether that happens sooner or later, these are two mountains that should not be missed by any snowrider visiting Lake Tahoe.
Please click on the photos for expanded views. All photos are by Jim Kenney.
From the moment you arrive at the Squaw Valley base area the expert terrain is evident everywhere you look. Here the KT-22 express quad chair rises 1800 steep vertical feet just beyond Squaw’s Olympic Rings.
2. During Squaw’s 60+ years of operation the KT-22 terrain has been a proving ground for numerous greats from racing, freestyle, and extreme skiing including Scot Schmidt, Tamara McKinney, Jonny Moseley, Julia Mancuso, Shane McConkey, and the Backstrom siblings. We were duly impressed.
3. Heidi’s Rock is a spectacular landmark in the black diamond environs of Red Dog Ridge.
4. Rising approximately 2000 vertical feet above a beautiful section of the mountain near Broken Arrow peak, the Gold Coast Funitel is an especially wind resistant gondola that carries up to 28 passengers per car.
5. The terrain beneath Squaw’s highest point, Granite Chief peak (el 9050’), is incredibly playful. You can huck a cliff, boogie the bumps, straight line a chute, duck into the woods, or carve a steep face all within a few hundred yards.
6. Squaw Valley has a vertical drop of 2850’, 30 ski lifts, and 3600 acres of terrain and sure enough, the kiddos pick this black diamond slope near Landbridge Canyon for a training run!
7. Fittingly, this is called Mountain View trail and you’re looking at some of signature terrain of Alpine Meadows ski area; left to right: South Face, Ward Peak (el 8637’), and Alpine Bowl.
8. An Alpine Meadows instructor guides young protégés down Sherwood Run with beautiful Lake Tahoe serving as backdrop.
9. Everything you see in this sun drenched shot of Alpine Meadow’s South Face is in bounds and patrolled even though far from the nearest lift.
1 Alpine Meadows has 2400 patrolled acres of ski terrain. This view north towards Squaw Valley is from Wolverine Saddle. Following this line leads to Beaver, Estelle and Bernie’s Bowls representing another huge area of challenging “sidecountry”.
1 Here a guest scopes out Wolverine Bowl with the Summit Express quad chair and Lake Tahoe in the background. Alpine Meadows has a vertical drop of 1800’, but skis huge.
1 A friendly snowboarder drops a photobomb from steep Scott Chairlift. The low key Alpine Meadows base area lies below at an elevation of 6835’.
Squaw Valley website: http://www.squaw.com/
Squaw Valley trail map: http://mappery.com/maps/Squaw-Valley-USA-Ski-Trail-Map.jpg
Alpine Meadows website: http://www.skialpine.com/
Alpine Meadows trail map: http://www.skialpine.com/mountain/alpine-meadows-trail-map
About the Author
- Husband, father and civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a Washington D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim’s ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism’s Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article. To read other articles by Jim, click here.