Let’s be clear here. This post is not about second guessing operations calls. It was dang windy out there today. It’s about communications and earning the respect of your customers. I know I am not the only one that thinks something is broken at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
This morning started out a little bit rough, with yet another incident that closed local roads. So far this winter we have seen multiple closures from high winds and heavy rain, a fallen tree on Highway 89, an avalanche on Alpine Meadows road that travelled far beyond “our little corner of the internet”, an avalanche on Highway 89 that trapped 2 cars…and today, an “officer involved shooting” that closed Highway 89 for a police investigation. There’s been a lot of opportunities for SquAlpine folk to practice their communications game!
On the Squaw side, communications were loud and clear. The first tweet arrived shortly after 6:30 AM advising of high winds and possible lift closures. That was already obvious to us, starting with forecasts we made on Monday. Then followed a series of confusing tweets about the Highway 89 road closure, leaving people completely mystified if you could even get to Alpine Meadows. There also was a tweet about the expected lifts for Squaw Valley.
Sometime after 8 AM the official app was updated to say that Summit and other upper mountain lifts would be on hold. Having never had trouble finding fun on Roundhouse, I set off for Alpine Meadows via Highway 267, enduring Northstar traffic and all of the continuing traffic into Kings Beach and Tahoe City. As I pulled into Kings Beach, I noted the tweet sent around 8:30 indicating that only the magic carpets would be opening. With blue skies peeking out, I found my “I Believe” button and pressed on to Alpine Meadows.
You know things are not good when the traffic coming down Alpine Meadows Road exceeds the traffic going up. It was the typical scene of a whole lot of confused tourists standing around in the breezeway wondering why they came to Alpine Meadows today. The winds were definitely blowing and the consistency of the snow in the parking lot was something like molten lead. So I called it a day and headed home (with a nice stop at Rosie’s Cafe for breakfast).
With Highway 89 still closed, and a temporary closure on Highway 267, it was indeed complete gridlock in Kings Beach. I can only imagine what it may have looked like on a weekend day. But no, Placer County has assured us that there is not a traffic problem in Lake Tahoe!
Eventually, around 2 pm, Alpine Meadows did spin Hot Wheels, Subway and Meadow chairs. It’s tough to tell when that happened as the app always indicates that it was updated at the same minute you opened the lift status page. I guess that’s what they mean by “real time updates”? No tweet was ever sent indicating lifts opened. I wonder how many people waited it out.
Were push notifications sent via the SquAlpine official app today? That’s a good question. When the app is not open on my phone, the notifications do appear momentarily on the screen. Push one button and they are gone forever. We’re still waiting for an update to the official app that brings back the ability to see notifications that you might have missed. Since not everyone does Twitter, it’s an important feature which was removed from the “beta version”. At least the last update to the app brought us those cute little falling snowflakes! I am sharing the stoke on those!
Overall, it was a frustrating day. The skiing that was missed…yeah, I don’t think I missed much. But the clear communication that might have made decision making easier for many people was lacking. For what it’s worth, if the amount of traffic around Tahoe today is any indication, it’s going to be another very crowded weekend.