In the Name of Snow Safety, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Adds Helicopter, 13 “Dragons” or Gazex Pipes

Squaw has invested $4 million in its snow safety program for the 2017/18 season. New to the resort, an Astar 350 B3 helicopter will be parked on standby in the Squaw Valley parking lot for a portion of the season. The helicopter will be used for avalanche control at both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows after major snow cycles, when weather and visibility allow. Squaw is the only resort in California using a helicopter as part of its snow safety program.

“The helicopter enables us to assess snow conditions around the mountain, using test explosives, in under 30 minutes. We can use it to drop explosives onto the terrain below and transport our teams up onto the mountain to complete their avalanche control routes on the ground,” said Will Paden, Squaw Valley Ski Patrol director.


The ski area also added four new avalaunchers and enhanced its Gazex avalanche mitigation system with eight new pipes. Called Dragons because of their fiery blast, these remotely controlled avalanche mitigation systems use propane gas and oxygen to create a concussive blast to remotely trigger avalanches when staff and skiers are not in the area. In 2015, Squaw Valley became the only California ski resort to install this technology and has been expanding its use annually since. The resort has ordered 13 new Dragons for the 2017/18 season, including eight on the ridge above Alpine Meadows Road and five within the boundaries of the resort. With 10 total on-mountain Dragons and five control shelters, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will have the largest system in use at any ski resort in North and South America. The five new inbound Dragons will include one each on High Yellow Gully and Pete’s Peril at Alpine Meadows as well as two on Red Dog Ridge and one on The Roof (on Emigrant Peak between the Attic and the Funnel) at Squaw Valley. These will join five existing installations: three at Squaw Valley located on Headwall Face, Gold Coast Ridge, and Mainline Pocket, and two at Alpine Meadows located at South Peril and High Yellow.

“What’s great about the Dragons is we can set them off at any time so we don’t have to wait for light, we can do it in the middle of the night. Groomers can keep grooming safely at night and help keep work roads open so the rest of the team can access the mountain too,” said Ken Bokelund, Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol director. “This is a big advantage on Alpine Meadows Road, too. We can set them off routinely as the snow piles up during times when our guys and gals can’t access those areas safely. We’ll be able to maintain access on Alpine Meadows Road more safely and efficiently.”

Boreal Installs Largest On-Site Solar Installation in California Ski Industry


On Sept. 16, Boreal Mountain Resort unveiled the beginning of a 235 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system mounted on the Woodward Bunker roof. The array is projected to generate more than 325,000 kWh of clean electricity annually, enough to power the equivalent of nearly 30 residential homes. The installation will offset more than 250 tons of carbon emissions, equivalent to removing 52 cars from the road annually. The new solar PV system is scheduled to be installed and operational by the beginning of the 2017/18 winter season.

Tahoe Pitch Showcase Winners


Six local entrepreneurs presented their companies at the Tahoe Pitch Showcase, produced by Tahoe Silicon Mountain (TSM) and Sierra Business Council, on Sept. 11. The six finalists were selected from 18 who participated in Tahoe Pitch Camp, an intensive, month-long workshop led by Sierra Business Council. Ellen Raynor with KeepOnMovin’, a mobile health solution designed to help physical therapy patients do their exercises at home, was crowned the winner. Eddy Bowl, a reusable, compostable water bowl for dogs, won the People’s Choice award. Info:,

FiftyFifty Wins Gold Again


For the third year in a row, FiftyFifty Brewing in September took home top honors at the European Beer Star Awards where it was awarded the gold medal in the Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Beer category for Eclipse, a barrel-aged imperial stout. This makes four out of the last five years that FiftyFifty won gold in this category. The 2017 varieties of Eclipse Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout are due to release to the public on Dec. 8. Info:

TA-DA! Brows & Beauty


Pamela Tambourine, a licensed and registered permanent makeup practitioner, has started Ta-Da! Brows & Beauty. She works out of two studios in Truckee: True Skin and Images Salon. Tambourine is certified in 3D brow microblading and pigmentation. Contact her for a free consultation. Info: (530) 318-3061,

New Digital Marketing Business


Husband-and-wife team Nick and Laura Visconti in October launched GEOGRAPHY CREATIVE, headquartered in Truckee. GEOGRAPHY CREATIVE is the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of experience in digital marketing and visual storytelling in both outdoor and travel industries. Services include campaign development, social strategy, content production, and influencer marketing. Info:


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