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Why I Will Not Ski Squaw This Year

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Editors Note: Ms. Brancaccio currently authors an artist column, DiStill Life, that publishes every three months in Moonshine Ink.

My mama always told me, “Practice what you preach.” OK well, maybe she didn’t use the adage itself, but she did imbue integrity within her children. Be a good person, practice good values, and live a good life. And, while my life is not void of hypocrisy, I strive to keep my words and actions consistent with one another.

Thus, I can no longer buy a Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski pass.

After four years of doing so, it has become clear that giving hundreds of dollars to this local ski mountain does not align with my values whatsoever. For me, buying a Squaw pass is like preaching about the benefits of reusable water containers and then, tossing a plastic Dasani bottle out of the car window.

Call me crazy, but ever since I started skiing, I have never been a huge fan of ski resorts in the first place. Besides their hugely negative impacts on the environment — energy expenditure, water usage, landscape manipulation, ecosystem degradation — I simply see ski resorts as money-mongering, evil corporations. They can charge just about anything for a hotel suite, a sandwich, or a pair of rental boots, but the majority of their employees hardly make minimum wage.

On top of wasting my paychecks, I also have a recurring feeling that I’m wasting my time at ski resorts. For me, a fulfilling February day does not involve searching for a parking spot, waiting for a lift to open, sitting on my butt, shivering, skiing down, getting back in a long line, and repeating the process until my feet are too cold to function. If I want to get to the top of a mountain, I much prefer to climb it myself.

Perhaps the main reason I cannot/will not purchase a pass, though, is the dialogue surrounding Squaw Valley and its puppeteer, KSL. I can’t remember a time last winter when someone next or near to me wasn’t complaining about something “Squaw” did to piss them off.

If it wasn’t the sluggish lift lines, it was the horrendous traffic jams that permeated Highway 89; and if it wasn’t an email from Andy Wirth denying passholders their right to freedom of speech, it was the fact that Granite Chief was closed AGAIN.

Complaints such as these had to be kept at a low decibel, however; anyone who spoke out against the mountain faced the reality of getting their pass pulled. Squaw was a fascist country, and we were its restless citizens. Most of these citizens must have amnesia though, because to my knowledge, they’re all still buying a pass this winter. And I’m certain that the litany of grievances will continue to pop up again in everyday conversation, as it’s apparently more advantageous for them to protest with friends on the mountain than off the mountain. I will pass (no pun intended).

You may ask: “Without Squaw, how will I get outside, stay active, and take advantage of the fresh snow? If not for resort skiing, whatever will I do to stave off the winter blues?” Don’t worry. I have every intention on skiing this winter, because I’m still buying a pass ... a pass to the Tahoe Nordic Ski Center.

Tahoe cross country is a non-profit organization with no evil dictator, no blackout days, and free hot chocolate in every warming hut! Sixty-five kilometers of trails, virtually all to myself. Seems like a no brainer.

Backcountry skiing is always an option, too. There are definitely no lift lines in the woods. And, what about ice skating, snowshoeing, and sledding?

All I’m really saying is, if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t (or won’t) change it, change your attitude.

~ Megan Brancaccio is a Tahoe City resident.

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The Opinion Page is your place to spout off. This section contains letters to the editor and longer My Shot pieces. Also, the Spout features two bimonthly perspectives — In the Past, delving into Tahoe Truckee history, and In the Moment, an artistic musing of a moment today.

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February 14, 2019