An Interview With Squaw Valley’s Andy Wirth

I recently listened to Madeleine Brand interview Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Resorts, on the subject of “How Will The Drought Affect California Ski Resorts?” Brand opened by noting that in the past year California residents had dropped their water use by 27 percent.

In addition, a poll showed that these residents are currently more concerned about the drought that any other issue. In thinking about the drought, many of us have El Nino on the brain.

Wirth admitted that this past winter was indeed difficult. He added that experts blame the super high atmospheric pressure, which meteorologists call the “the ridiculously resilient ridge.” Still, he is very positive about their recent season. Learn more about Andy Wirth: and

They are not achieving what they could, but are still being very profitable and that their results in January and February were still quite favorable. Like last year Squaw Valley only had 6,000 acres open, but there was still a lot of great skiing to be had on this limited area.

Brand then wanted to know if California resorts can expect snow or more rain next year and how many winters like this do you think you could survive under the current drought. Wirth was optimistic. He stated they could do quite well for quite a few more.

He did admit, however, that they don’t know for certain what the distant future will hold as regards the weather. What we see is only what the good though limited results of the Stanford Test. What they are hoping beyond hope to see is an absence of the “ridiculously resilient ridge.”

Brand noted that many California ski resorts are expecting the worst and are quickly changing their business model to meet the warmer weather of the future. Wirth obviously believes such a thing is ridiculous and pessimistic.

He said Squaw Valley is still doing quite well and expects to keep on doing so thank you very much. Wirth learned his attitude toward th weather as forest ranger. In essence, he has always been tied to this type of behavior and knows that adverse weather is just part of the deal of working with weather-related activities.

He has been involved with the hotel and resort industry itself for a long, long time. He has been at it for more than 25 years now. Wirth began his long outdoors career by attending Colorado State University and then Edinburgh University.

It was during these years that Andy Wirth worked as a forest ranger in the Rocky Mountain National Parks and the San Pedro Parks Wilderness Area. After graduation in 1986, Wirth entered the ski and resort industry with a position with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation that would last the next 20 years.

After short stints at other resorts, Andy Wirth joined the Squaw Valley team in 2010 and was made its CEO.

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