SKADE Award Winner banner for Eddy Ancinas' book, "Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows: Tales From Two Valleys"SQUAW VALLEY AND ALPINE MEADOWS:
Tales From Two Valleys

INTRODUCTION AND TABLE OF CONTENTS

In the rugged High Sierra at the north end of Lake Tahoe, California; two adjacent valleys lie protected by high peaks to the west and separated by a massive ridge. The story of how these two remote valleys became two (now one) of the best-known ski areas in North America, begins with their discoveries by two visionaries: Wayne Poulsen, a young ski competitor from Reno, who first saw the potential in Squaw Valley while fishing there as a boy in 1931, and John Reily, a Los Angeles businessman, who came to Squaw Valley in 1955, and looked down from the top of the KT22 ski lift into a pristine valley to the south.

In search of funds to build a ski area; Poulsen formed a company with Alexander Cushing, a Wall Street lawyer, and Reily founded a corporation, whose members were skiers of national prominence. Ultimately, both men lost control of their dreams to build a ski area. Poulsen was ousted by Cushing, and Reily failed to raise sufficient funds.

By 1960, Squaw Valley, having hosted the Winter Olympics, had become a world class ski resort, with extensive facilities and a lively community of permanent and part-time residents. Meanwhile, Alpine Meadows’ investors and homeowners shunned commercial development, and prided themselves on being a “family area—owned and operated by real skiers.”

How these two valleys—so close geographically yet so distant philosophically—survived avalanches, fires, floods, lift accidents, economic ups and downs, ski trends, public opinion, good and bad management; and how the corporatization of both sides of the mountain inevitably joined them as one, is a story about the people who lived, worked and survived all of the above in both valleys.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

1. Men Who Love Mountains

Wayne Poulsen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

Poulsen and His Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

John Reily. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

John Reily and His Valley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Alex Cushing and His Ski Area . . . . . . . . . . . 24

2. Snow Jobs

Headwall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29

Avalanche . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31

Why Not Squaw? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

3. The Valley Next Door

Great Expectations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Great Migrations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

Great Explorations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42

A Great Location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

A Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45

Under Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

4. Big Dreams

Reily on a Roll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Nightmare to Olympic Dream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

After the Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57

Over the Mountains and through the Woods . . .59

Up at the Cornice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

Altered Dream for Alpine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63

5. The Sixties

First Tracks at Alpine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67

Ski School Stories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71

Managing the Moguls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

Lift Stories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

Hans Burkhart: A Man of Many Ski Lifts . . . . . 78

Leave It to Reily . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

6. Slippery Slopes and Different Folks

Squaw Sliding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85

Alpine Rising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89

Alpine Slipping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95

Alpine Rescued . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96

Twin Peaks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97

Post Olympic Blues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .98

Squaw for Sale? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101

The Next Great Idea—
A U.S. Olympic Training Center? . . . . . . . . . . . 103

7. Three Tragedies, Two Fantasies and a Work in Progress

Tram Tragedy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105

A Ski Circus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .108

How to Buy an Olympic Village . . . . . . . . . . . . .109

Blyth Arena Down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114

The Day the Mountain Came Down
on Alpine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .117

A White Wolf’s Tale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124

8. Law, Love and Land

Crimes and Misdemeanors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131

Damn the Torpedoes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .137

The Bear Goes Over the Mountain . . . . . . . . .

Mighty Mites to Champions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141

Snurfing to Squallywood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141

Reily’s Last Stand at Twin Peaks . . . . . . . . . . . . 144

Wendt and the 150-Acre Parking Lot . . . . . . . . .146

An End and a Beginning