It was a wonderful California beach day as I was driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. I was listening to KCRW and Press Play the Madeleine Brand Show. Her guest was Andy Wirth, the CEO and head honcho at Squaw Valley.
Andy Wirth is a guy living 25 hours a day, committed to his job on the mountain and the community that lives and works there, and besides skiing doing all the right exercise stuff to stay in shape with the possible exception of jumping out of light airplanes with a parachute on his back.
He lost an arm in a skydiving accident and nearly bled out before he was rushed to hospital where the arm was successfully reattached. Wirth is the kind of guy you want on your team in times when tough decisions need to be made and made rapidly. Brand talked to him about a newer threat to the ski industry, the drought.
Andy Wirth manned up and answered, showing more meteorologic knowledge than would be expected of someone in his position as manager of a ski resort. He talked about the “ridiculously resilient ridge” sounding like a man who has come to grips with the realities of the modern world.
Wirth does come from a family dedicated to the natural resources and Wirth himself was a backwoods ranger and knows all the right stuff that needs to be done in a fire emergency.
Being a skier myself, issues about this drought and how Wirth will cope with the situation are important. He is reassuring and seems to have the future for skiers planned out. When asked about bad snow levels he reassured us that if there were 4,000 acres of skiing instead of 6,000 acres; there would still be great skiing, just a little less of it.
His snowmaking and snowcat guys know what to do with the equipment, and you can bet that they are skiers, too, and want to finish their work day with a blast downhill and maybe shred a mogul or two. Any trip to Squaw Valley for skiing is a day well spent.
You are out on skis in nature and its a magical experience especially at night when the winds lay down, and the moon breaks through the clouds or when the snow is falling and is illuminated by the giant beam lights on the ski slopes making night skiing magical. Read more: www.kcrw.com/people/andy-wirth
Andy Wirth is a great guy with a tough and important job, and the fact that he keeps making people happy is a testament to his mental agility and smarts. Keep up the good work but please stay away from skydiving.
Learn more about Andy Wirth: