Palisades Tahoe awaits snowfall for their official opening day

Arjun Aujla

Palisades Tahoe, formerly known as Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, began a new chapter this year, hosting the earliest opening day in 20 years and rebranding. After a snowstorm hit the Sierra Nevadas in mid-October, Palisades Tahoe was able to open on Oct. 29 for all skiers and snowboarders. Despite the early opening, a snowless November caused Palisades to close again, but optimistic skiers are hoping that the upcoming holiday season will bring more snow once again. 

On Sept. 13, the former Squaw Valley Resort and Alpine Meadows announced that the two resorts were combining and changing their name to Palisades Tahoe. The decision to change the names was due to the derogatory meaning of the word “Squaw” towards Native American women. 

After coming to the conclusion in August 2020 that a name change was necessary, the resort researched local Native American history and spoke with the local Washoe tribe about potential options. The brainstorming resulted in Palisades Tahoe, which appealed the most because it is the name of a famous cliff off of the Siberia chairlift and references the terrain of the Alpine bowl chairlift at the resort. A gondola that will connect Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows has been under construction for the past year, so the new name made the combination of the two resorts seamless. The plans to combine Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows into one resort will be executed over the next year along with a new logo that reflects both mountains. The logo of Palisades Tahoe, an eagle, is a tribute to the local Washoe tribe; the eagle is a legendary symbol of freedom that watches over the Washoe tribe and the Olympic Valley. 

There were mixed emotions about the changes to the resort as many skiers favored other names. Junior Harrison Flynn, a Palisades Tahoe Mighty Mites coach, weighed in on his thinking. 

“When I first heard of the name change, I did not fully approve because I did not want to lose all the memories associated with the name of the mountain. If [the owners] were going to change the name, I thought it should’ve been Olympic Valley because it referred to the area,” Flynn said.

Standing on the slopes, Palisades Tahoe ski coach Morgan Moseley and her team enjoy a bluebird day on the slopes. (Photo courtesy of Morgan Moseley)

 Conversely, senior and Palisades Tahoe ski coach Morgan Moseley immediately recognized the necessity of the name change.

“It is going to take a little while to get used to [the new name], but it is still the same mountain with the same runs and memories,” Moseley said.

Tahoe is expecting a big year for business after an unusual 2020-21 ski season. During the prior season, a limited number of passes were sold and very few people were allowed on each chairlift due to the pandemic. This year, however, the resort opened at full capacity. Unfortunately, no new snow has arrived yet, but the low overnight temperatures have allowed the Palisades grooming and snowmaking teams to work towards re-opening the resort. 

Nonetheless, many students are looking forward to finally getting back on the slopes. Junior and competitive skier Isaac Kaufman, explained how he trains in the winter to accomplish his goal of making it to the Freeride World Tour, a worldwide circuit for the best skiers and snowboarders to compete at the most renowned ski resorts.

Jumping high in skis, junior Isaac Kaufman “spread eagles” after going off a huge jump in the terrain park. (Photo courtesy of Isaac Kaufman)

“My goal every week is to get better on and off the mountain either in Woodward doing trampoline tricks or on the mountain,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman is excited for Palisades Tahoe to open so he can get back to doing what he loves. Despite the snowless November, there are hopes for the park to open in early December, keeping Giants eagerly waiting for the announcement of snowfall and skiing.