News from the lift line

Tahoe and Truckee ski resorts worked hard all summer to improve and expand the already great experiences each mountain offers. From improved snowmaking technology to expanded terrain parks, stronger Wi-Fi and on-mountain apps, a day on the hill has never been easier. Here are a few of the headlines that caught our eyes.

Connecting the dots at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is eyeing a gondola to connect the two ski areas. | Courtesy Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Skiers and riders in the Tahoe Basin have long wondered whether Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows could be combined into one mega-resort. This past spring, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings announced plans for a gondola connecting the two resorts.

The proposal follows a successful partnership between Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Troy Caldwell, the owner of a strip of private lane called White Wolf, which separates Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The partnership is just the first step in the planning. The project still needs approval from Placer County and the U.S. Forest Service.

The current plan is for a gondola that will connect the two resort base areas via the KT-22 ridgeline. A decision has not been made regarding whether skiing will be allowed in the White Wolf terrain. The proposal has been met with some backlash from community members who are concerned about the impact the gondola will have on the Granite Chief Wilderness area and the Five Lakes hiking trail, while Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Caldwell say that they are working with a resort planning group to create a design that minimizes the impact on the surrounding terrain. A final plan will be released in summer 2016.

Speaking of new lifts, Squaw Valley will debut its new Siberia Express this season with a high-speed, six-passenger chairlift to provide more efficient access to Siberia Bowl, Mainline and the Mainline Terrain Park. |

Developing White Wolf
In related news, Caldwell has announced plans to build a 38-lot mountain community on the White Wolf property between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. His vision includes concrete-constructed homes that are capable of withstanding potential avalanche activity, hydroelectric and wind power generators and a private chair lift that will provide access to Estelle Bowl at Alpine Meadows. |

Get the shot at Homewood Mountain Resort

Relive your day on the slopes with a drone that will follow you all day and record your next adventure. | Courtesy Homewood Mountain Resort

If you went on a ski vacation and didn’t post about it on Instagram, did it really happen? Homewood Mountain Resort wants to help you capture those memories with more than a series of selfies. They’ve partnered with Cape Productions to offer a drone video service for skiers and riders. The drones are equipped with tracking equipment so all resort guests have to do is strap on an arm band and let the drone follow and do the work. Don’t settle for the same old Instagram shots this winter. |

Broke ski bums rejoice
Some resort employees will be able to afford a few extra packs of Ramen this winter thanks to several local resorts announcing raises in minimum wage for the upcoming season. Mount Rose Ski Tahoe will pay entry-level seasonal employees a minimum of $11 an hour.

Meanwhile Vail Resorts, which includes Northstar California, Heavenly Mountain Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort, has announced a company-wide minimum wage of $10.

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows followed suit by raising their entry level pay to $12 an hour. The next round’s on you this season.

Stomp the Landing on Donner Summit

Sugar Bowl is unveiling a new terrain park in 2015-16. | Courtesy Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl has created a new terrain park located below the Mt. Lincoln Express Chairlift. The park will include 43 new features starting at Upper Ridge Catwalk and flowing down Chase Ridge to the location of the old half pipe before continuing to the right-hand side of the Nob Hill run.

Work on technique before taking it to the snow at Woodward Tahoe thanks to the new Sugar Bowl-Woodward Tahoe combo pass. |

Flexible pass options
Diamond Peak offers some of the most flexible pass options in the Tahoe Basin. The Flex Pass offers guests the option of purchasing two to seven days to use anytime during the season, and the pass is transferable between people.

Season passholders at Diamond Peak receive two lift tickets to Boreal, Homewood, June Mountain, Red Lodge Mountain, Whitefish and Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, making it a great option for those looking to travel.

The Peak Pledge guarantees a full refund on any unused season passes before Jan. 15. |