The Hidden Stash: White Pass Ski Area

The Hidden Stash: White Pass Ski Area

As moisture collects and travels south along the Cascade Mountain Range, a large collection of Nimbus clouds form in the shadow of Mt Rainier. With average winter temperatures, those Nimbus clouds release condensed moisture at freezing levels that formulate ice crystals that bond together to create one of nature’s purest and most beautiful pieces of art, the snowflake.

Storms come and go throughout the cold, blistery months of fall and winter in the central Cascades. One publicly accessible area, just outside of Yakima, Washington, experiences the harsher side of winter and turns into a winter playground for all ages and abilities. This place I speak of my friends is White Pass Ski Resort. Each and every winter the Pigtail Peak and Hogsback ridge get summited by thousands of snow sport enthusiasts. Once a training ground for ski legends Phil and Steve Mahre, this family oriented resort brings back locals year after year with its good vibes and good shred tribes. The roads leading to White Pass Ski Resport are kept to the highest grooming standard, even during those gnarly northwest storms.

Upon arrival I recommend you charge up Poma Bowl on the detachable quad chair—the high-speed chair makes the 1500-foot rise scream by. Once you pass the Poma Bowl, you ascend immediately over a local cliff band dubbed “911” and its sister to your right goes by the name of Blackout. You will feel the climb mellow out and as you look forward to the southeast you stare out at the locals’ location called “the steeps” which house “Mach, JC, Tower Run, Mach Rocks, Colorado and Max Rock.” After unloading the Great White Quad, you have the decision to head down towards multiple options of runs that will bring you back to the main base area, or head straight towards the expansion to Hogsback, where The Basin Quad, the Couloir Express and High Camp Lodge await you.

Be on the lookout for the coveted huts in the woods for a good ol’ safety meeting. These are built in different spots each year typically and are hard to locate.

The expansion area has some of the best tree riding in the northwest, but it doesn’t beat the area known by locals as “Star Wars” on the frontside of the mountain, which is a personal favorite of mine. The frontside tree riding on a pow day is where legends are born. With tight lines and good stash pockets, Mach 5 Cornice (known to the locals as Mach) to X aka Execution is one to hit hard on pow day laps.

Be on the lookout for the coveted huts in the woods for a good ol’ safety meeting. These are built in different spots each year typically and are hard to locate.

Once the munchies hit, hit the lodge, grab a bread bowl filled with house made chili, a hot sandwich and a frosty beverage to quench your thirst. The Rice Krispies Treats fit well in pockets and are handmade inside the day lodge.

Shredding at White Pass Ski Area

If you’re not out chasing pow and wanna get a bit of flow and fun, head over the to the Rib Eye Park, off The Basin Quad, which starts out with a few small jumps with 10’-20’ gaps to get your jumping feet back. Then an assortment of rails and jib features staggered and stacked on large podiums keep you from having to hit the same line twice. The park ends with some fun floaters that sit in the 35’-45’ range for the young and fearless. With the ever changing amount of snow, the park is forever in the state of change, just like a garden full of lovely green ladies.

Once The Expansion is used up and the goods have been obtained, there’s always some time for hot laps down Tucker, What? and Cascade for a leg burnin’, big ollie poppin’ good time on the frontside of the mountain. Chair 4, which is part of the frontside area and houses some of the most unique cruiser runs for carving. If you see some guys and gals come out of the woods at the bottom of the chair, you can almost guarantee they just got through the rally trail that goes by Disneyland. A roller coaster of shred, once you get locked into the track, you will have day dreams about the next time you get to return. Pay close attention on your laps for people hanging out having a few with friends at “The Beach” or in a hut in the woods getting smokey somewhere. White Pass locals are a friendly bunch that’ll show you some of the stashes, but they will keep some for themselves on low tide days.

This off-the-beaten-path ski area is by far one hidden stash you shouldn’t miss. Remember, you can always retake a class, work an extra day or a double, but you can never relive a pow day.

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