Every sport has its shrines, their hallowed walls, dripping with history and nostalgia. Fenway Park, The Brickyard, Madison Square Garden, all places that shaped the history of athletics. Some people dedicate large portions of their life to visiting these historic venues. They save and travel to watch a game there, or maybe even walk onto the field. Unfortunately the average person is unable to really experience these venues. To play in front of a roaring crowd at Madison Square Garden you are going to need to get really good at hockey or basketball, or have some very powerful friends pull some strings. Instead we experience these historic sporting sights as spectators, watching but never participating, cheering but never playing.
Skiing is a little bit different. We have our hallowed lifts and historic mountains. We have our nostalgia and memories of progression but we do not lock them away, reserved for the elite. Instead we share them for the price of a lift ticket. Maybe Squaw Valley doesn't hold that kind of aura of history for everyone but as an Idahoan raised on G.N.A.R. MSP films and stories of Squawlywood there are a lot of perceptions and expectations tied into Squaw Valley.
I've pole-whacked for years, dreamed of calling my mom during a run, played with the notion of spring time BN's, called out pros and made Saucerboy references ever since I started skiing. A large part of my perception of skiing has come from these mountains. In any other sport I would be left imagining skiing lines off KT-22, watching pros from court-side seats. That's the magic of skiing though, the lines and lifts that made history are still there waiting for me to slide and tomahawk down.
The flip side of this of course is that areas can become hyped, building unrealistic expectations that trump reality. Now, having skied Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows I can honestly say that these expectations are fully based on reality. The volume and density of terrain is incredible. Even though we arrived during a slow snow year, long after any fresh had be tracked out and refrozen the mountain was still an enormous playground. Cliff bands and natural hits littler the slopes and the parks are large, creative and well maintained.
Now I understand why so many great skiers have come from here, or moved here. This it the kind of mountain that rewards great skiing and demands a heavy price from anyone in over their head. Of course there are mellow groomers and sunny cat tracks but there are also ski film sized cliffs and hits dominating the landscape.
Honestly there's not much that can be said about skiing Squaw that hasn't been said before. If you are standing on top of a cliff, contemplating its consequences don't be surprised if you are heckled from the lift. Be ready for pro callouts and big hucks, after all McConkey did ski here. Other sports fans might get to go watch the big game, or if they're lucky step onto that special field. We're skiers, we get to live our history, not just view it. Don't be content to just watch movies and read books, get out there and shred!