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"Squallywood" Author Robb Gaffney Speaks Out On KSL's Plans

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Asking himself "What would John Muir do?" (WWJMD), Robb Gaffney, local psychiatrist and author of "Squallywood: A Guide to Squaw's Most Exposed Lines," wrote an op-ed speaking out against KSL's development plans for the 101 acres as the base of Squaw Valley they hope to turn into a base village with 1,000 rooms and 19,000 square feet of retail over the course of 12-15 years of construction (at least according to the last plan). Gaffney, whose brother Scott is a big-head ski filmmaker and also a legendary Squaw local, wrote that he stands with others, like opposition group Friends of Squaw Valley, to fight "to maintain a true mountain and Sierra experience within the context of reasonable development." A 'true mountain and Sierra experience,' in their eyes, likely doesn't include an indoor water park or a alpine slide, and likely doesn't involve the entire first stage of the development being built along the snowline instead of clustered closer to the existing Intrawest-built base village. But Gaffney was less interested in criticizing the development as he was in getting people to say what they felt about it.

Gaffney concluded his op-ed with the following challenge for Tahoe locals:

"So, I challenge all Tahoe community members, including local athletes of all ages, to let the world know what you think. Write letters. Get on social media. Do whatever it takes to let your position be known. And lend whatever financial support you can. At this stage of the game, keeping quiet infers that you are comfortable with the current plans. As development proposals continue to morph and evolve, I challenge you to set aside the influence of personal relationships, financial interests, and the pressures one might feel from ties to a rapidly advancing project, and then honestly ask yourself the following questions: 1) Will the skiing improve, including ease of day-skiing access and overall mountain experience?

2) Will the Squaw, Tahoe, and Sierra community maintain its unique character and its leadership position with respect to other ski resorts in North America?

3) Will future generations, even in 50 to 100 years, appreciate my position and will I be judged as sitting on the right side of history?

Answering these questions for myself, I find that I'm back in the land of inspiration and possibility. I can once again dream of what could be."

Gaffney's challenge, coming from a local celebrity, was particularly tailored to other famous Squaw locals: pro skiers like JT Holmes, Cody Townsend, Elyse Saugsted, and Ingrid Backstrom, as well as current and former Olympians like Johnny Moseley and Julia Mancuso. Local star power, many of whom are sponsored by the mountain, have stayed relatively quiet or, in Moseley's place, been nominally supportive of it. Will Gaffney's challenge inspire a war of words among Tahoe's star-studded athlete roster? Will it provoke mutiny among Squaw's team of sponsored pros?
· Speaking Up to Protect Squaw Valley: What Would Muir Do? [Moonshine Ink]
· Squaw Valley archives [Curbed Ski]