Big Changes to Squaw Alpine, Andy Wirth’s upcoming gondola project
The Powder article goes on to interview Squaw/Alpine CEO Andy Wirth, who spearheaded the current version of the project. Wirth, who’s been with the project from inception to its current realization, has had a very active time while the project was being conceptualized. Andy Wirth has been with Squaw Valley since 2010 and headed up the seventy million dollar upgrade that helped skyrocket the resort, which hosted the Olympics in 1960, back into the forefront of winter vacation locales.
Unfortunately, amid the success, Andy’s career as CEO was marked with personal trauma. In 2013, as the result of a skydiving accident, Andy’s arm was traumatically amputated. He was able to have it surgically reattached, but the event helped Andy found the “Wounded Warrior Support” Ironman team.
In the article, Wirth actually attributes the conceptualization of this gondola project to Squaw Valley founder Wayne Poulsen. The merger of the two mountains as associated resorts didn’t actually happen until 2011, and as a result the gondola’s creation was stymied for many years. Previously skiers had access to both mountains, but had to drive to the opposite mountain when desired, which was less-than-convenient.
As the interview with Andy progresses, it becomes clear that only about a quarter of visitors to either resort utilize the current system to take advantage of both mountains. The aim of this new gondola system is to help people experience both mountains and to reduce traffic between the two. Wirth uses the example of how the majority of people ski both Whistler and Blackcomb in Vancouver via a similar system.
Andy Wirth goes on to answer the questions of skiers who frequent the resort, and even hints at more potential connections among the Mountain Collective. The only concern that Wirth expresses about these types of mergers are whether or not connecting mountains like this will ruin the singular experience of each individual resort.