Yesterday’s storm brought 17” of new snow to the top of Alpine Meadows and 16” to upper Squaw Valley in 24 hours, making for some excellent skiing and riding conditions today at both resorts.
Yesterday’s storm initially moved in as rain. As the rain froze our lifts were coated with significant wind-driven snow. This chain of weather events, along with additional factors including wind direction and wind speed, caused ice that coated many of our lifts. We had winds in excess of 100mph, and lifts cannot spin safely during such high speeds to prevent or maintain the ice issues.
To de-ice lifts in these conditions requires significant time and manpower. In order to keep from damaging the lifts the ice must be removed by hand and not just by simply spinning the lifts. Our Lift Maintenance crews started the process of de-icing Gold Coast and Mountain Meadow lifts yesterday. We start the process on Gold Coast first because it is an important gateway for both employees and the public to access key parts of Squaw Valley. Very early this morning, temperatures remained below freezing and the wind chill factor deterred the de-icing process. The ice on Gold Coast was so dense that our crews had to start manually de-icing the lift tower by tower. When this happens, crew members must drive to each tower and climb the towers to de-ice the sheaves (the rollers that the cable rides on). Beginning with the sheaves on each tower, they then clean the terminals so the carriers can move smoothly through both the top and bottom. From there, they move on to the grips and finally, the carriers, or chairs. Once these parts are de-iced, the lift has to run several full laps, and then go through a re-spacing and daily maintenance check-out process before it can carry passengers to the hills.
After Gold Coast was cleared, our crews moved on to carry out the de-icing process on Shirley Lake Express and some of the other lifts. There are still a few lifts that have not been de-iced. Therefore, we have scheduled our lifts for tomorrow accordingly. Siberia is scheduled to open at 10am, Emigrant at 11am, and Solitude at 12pm tomorrow.
New Terrain Opening
Drumroll please….KT-22 Express has been added to the schedule tomorrow! Squaw’s iconic lift is scheduled to open at 1pm, allowing Squaw Ski Patrol enough time to complete setting up the complex with boundaries and obstacle markings. Scott Chair has been added to tomorrow’s lift schedule at Alpine Meadows, and is slated to be running at 9am. Later this week we will also be adding Headwall Express to the schedule. Wax those boards, skiers and riders, this week is going to be fun.