Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows kicked off the 2015-16 ski season with more than $9 million in investments in snow surface and chairlift technologies across both mountains. These investments will improve snow surface quality and operational reliability, enhancing the overall guest experience.
Gazex Inertia Exploder
Currently in use by ski resorts and high alpine transportation authorities in the U.S. and Europe, the Gazex Inertia Exploder is an avalanche mitigation system that uses compressed gas to create a sonic concussion, triggering controlled avalanches before they become a hazard.
Squaw Valley has installed one exploder on the Headwall area of the mountain, which will be remotely deployed by Ski Patrol personnel with software controls at the base area of the mountain. The Gazex technology will be used during nonoperational hours as snow accumulates over 6 inches in order to trigger avalanches on an incremental basis.
Using this technology in conjunction with ski patrol efforts and traditional avalanche mitigation procedures, Squaw Valley will decrease delays because of avalanche cleanup in the Headwall area, and increase the efficiency of the ski patrol to open the area on time. The blast from the Gazex Inertia Exploder will create a similar sound and vibration to that of traditional avalanche charges used in routine avalanche mitigation procedures at Squaw Valley.
Alpine Meadows has added 15 new high-efficiency snowmaking guns, which will allow for more consistent snow surfaces and early-season snowmaking. A majority of these new guns have expanded snowmaking at the lower levels of the very popular Summit Run. Alpine Meadows now has snowmaking on nine of 11 lifts.
Squaw Valley has added two new snowmaking fan guns that will improve lift access ramps and lift loading processes at Big Blue, Siberia, Headwall and Gold Coast chairlifts. Squaw Valley has snowmaking on 11 of 29 lifts.
During the past five years, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has invested $8 million in snowmaking to create 14 miles of snowmaking between the two mountains. The resort now makes four times more snow than it did five years ago.
New grooming machines round out the $1.5 million in grooming investment made for the 2015-16 season, with a new PistenBully 400 Park Pro that will allow the Squaw Valley terrain park crew to perfect takeoffs, kickers and landings. At Alpine Meadows, two PistenBully 600 Winch Cats joined the fleet, providing maximum ground coverage and a 40-percent fuel savings over the current machines. These cats will be used for Alpine’s signature runs in Alpine Bowl, Sherwood and Wolverine.
One of the most popular lifts at Squaw Valley, Siberia Express, has undergone a $7 million upgrade from a high-speed quad to a high-speed six-passenger lift to improve reliability, efficiency and operational effectiveness. The Siberia Express provides access to intermediate ski areas in Siberia Bowl, Gold Coast and Mainline. The new lift was constructed in the same location as its predecessor.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows continues to evaluate and continually improve operations to maximize conservation efforts. The retired Siberia Express lift was disassembled and sent to recycling facilities to be melted down and repurposed. Snowmaking systems are monitored and updated whenever possible. This year new air and water lines were added to reduce leaks; new, efficient snow gun hydrants were installed; new software is in place to shave gun and hydrant communication down to seconds, and new sensors to ensure snowmaking only occurs during optimal weather and temperature conditions. Five of the new snow guns installed at the resort were awarded by a grant from the National Ski Areas Association’s Sustainable Slopes Grant Program and HKD Snowmakers, a selection based on a demonstrated commitment to sustainability and energy conservation by the resort.
For more information about Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, to purchase a season pass or to make lodging reservations, visit www.squawalpine.com.