Ski Resort Life

2001 Number 10 Resort in North America: Squaw Valley, Calif.


One visitor describes riding Squaw’s Cable Car and emerging at High Camp as “a mind-blowing experience.” Perhaps he was referring to the panoramic ridgeline that spans the horizon from Squaw Peak to Siberia to Emigrant to Granite Chief; or the bungee tower, swimming pool and Olympic ice skating rink at the top of the mountain; or the craggy chutes that plummet out of sight into Silverado; or the blue sky reflected in the stunning view of Lake Tahoe. Quite simply, “everyone should ski here at least once,” says one reader. Most Squaw skiers are regulars from the Bay Area and the largely weekend-warrior crew can make for “crowds with too much attitude.” But the ultra-modern (can you even say Funitel?) lift system spreads them throughout the 4,000 acres quickly. Squaw’s reputation for being “a great place to watch great skiers” was earned on KT-22-a chairlift, a mountain and somewhat of a religious experience. All the fun is not reserved for the experts however. The sun-drenched beginner area is at the top of the mountain, nestled between the refuges of Gold Coast and High Camp. At the end of the day, the massive Olympic House sun deck is a convenient rendezvous that may make evening plans superfluous. Aside from the five-star Resort at Squaw Creek, Squaw’s longstanding weakness has been “marginal base facilities.” But all that is in the process of changing. The first phase of Intrawest’s 13-acre pedestrian village is due for completion in December 2001. Until then the motto is “Pardon our Dust,” as skiers are redirected to the new Far East Center to avoid the hard-hat zone. At least the reader who laments “it’s too far from New Jersey” may feel more at home.

WHAT’S NEW Far East Skier Services Center creates a new resort entrance via the new Far East six-pack chair, which replaces Papoose.

A GOOD DEAL In the frequent skier/rider program, ski or ride four days and get the fifth day free.

MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Lifts, Scenery; SILVER Snow, Weather, Après-Ski, Off-Hill Activities.

HIGH/LOW RANK Challenge (4), Terrain (7), Lifts, (11); Service (46), Family Programs (47), Value (53).

DON’T MISS A trip through the Olympic Museum at High Camp.

READER REMARKS (+) “Great challenging terrain. KT-22 is the best.” (-) “Too expensive. Snobby attitude.” “Crowded on weekends.”