Squaw Valley to celebrate historic season with latest closing of its most famous lift

Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley, stands in front of KT-22 on March 9, 2016.
Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley, stands in front of KT-22 on March 9, 2016. Sacramento Bee file

Squaw Valley ski resort is planning to keep its KT-22 chairlift open until 7 p.m. on May 20 to celebrate the iconic lift’s latest closing in history, the resort announced on its Facebook page Friday.

The lift normally closes at 4 p.m., so the overtime will allow skiers and snowboarders to take runs until just before sun sets over Lake Tahoe.

“We’ve received 721 (inches) of snow so far this season, second only to 810 inches in 2010-11, when KT-22 operated through May 8,” the resort’s Facebook post said. “KT-22 is anticipated to close on May 20 due to conditions, but we will continue to assess for the possibility of further operations as we are committed to offering terrain as long as conditions allow.”

And more snow is on the way. A cold storm Tuesday is expected to drop a few inches in the Sierra with the snow levels as low as 5,500 feet.

Men’s Journal named KT-22, known to locals as “The Mothership,” one of “The Best Ski Runs in America” in 2016. Adventure Journal included it on its list of “The 9 Best Chairlifts in North America” in 2012. It services 1,767 vertical feet.

Its expert terrain features cliffs, chutes and steep pitches that inspire people to challenge themselves and push the limits. And it also inspires music – Eric T. Brandt, or “Eric T.,” released a single called “I Love KT” last year. The hard-charging rock track opens with the lyrics, “Every morning, it’s all the same. The Mothership is callin’ my name.”

Squaw Valley will offer downhill access on July 4 for the fourth time – and will stay open beyond the holiday for the first time, with operations limited to Saturdays.

Squaw Valley is the only Tahoe resort open beyond May, but sister resort Alpine Meadows is open Saturdays and Sundays through May 14 and Mount Rose through May 29 Thursday-Sunday.

As of May 1, 2017, the central Sierra snowpack is 202 percent of normal. That’s a big difference from a few years ago – the snowpack was 2 percent of normal on May 1, 2015 and 68 percent of normal last year. This series of satellite images shows t

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