The Palisades Tahoe gondola will open by next winter, connecting two classic resorts

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Next winter, skiers and snowboarders will be able to ride a new gondola through the mountains of North Lake Tahoe between the Alpine Meadows and Olympic Valley ski areas.

Construction on the $65 million gondola project in Palisades Tahoe began last spring, but it was unclear when the gondola might open to riders. In an email Monday morning, Alterra Mountain Co., the Denver ski conglomerate that owns Palisades, confirmed it will begin filming at the start of the 2022-23 winter season. Palissades is the umbrella brand of the two ski areas.

This is a major development for Tahoe’s ski industry. By connecting the two resorts, which occupy neighboring valleys between North Tahoe and Truckee, the gondola will effectively create the third largest ski area in North America, behind Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia and Park City Mountain in Utah, according to Alterra. Together, Olympic and Alpine cover 6,000 acres of ski terrain.

The gondola will not open new runs, but will allow skiers and snowboarders to travel between the Olympic and Alpine base areas more easily than they otherwise could by driving along the often congested mountain roads and Highway 89. The trip will take 16 minutes. and ascend approximately 2,000 vertical feet above the ridge separating the ski areas, giving riders stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The gondola will carry up to 1,400 people per hour, Alterra said.

The company confirmed the gondola’s opening as part of an announcement that it would spend $344 million this year on capital improvements at its 15 North American resorts. The bulk of the investment will expand infrastructure at Palisades and Mammoth Mountain in California, Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado, Deer Valley Resort in Utah and Crystal Mountain in Washington State.

Alterra also wants to expand the village and high mountain infrastructure of Olympic Valley (formerly Squaw Valley) to include 850 housing units, 300,000 square feet of retail space and a water park. However, this proposal has been criticized by local conservation groups and is in limbo.

Gregory Thomas is The Chronicle’s Lifestyle and Outdoors Editor. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @GregRThomas

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