I don’t actually remember my first day on skis but I know it was at White Pass. I probably skied with my dad, after a breakfast cooked by my grandma, on a run my grandpa—who worked at the ski area—helped maintain. White Pass isn’t just about skiing with family, White Pass is family.
From the beginning, that family included most of the employees and locals, so I always had a chaperone. Not the kind who said, “No, you can’t do that,” but rather, “Go out, have fun, be safe, see you at four.” With White Pass as my playground, I took full advantage.
It started with races down Creek Bed—a banked, winding gully that spilled out to Chair 4—mini cliff hucks below Mach V, and the bamboo slalom courses and kickers my cousins and I would set up under the night-skiing lights.
As I grew, my days of exploring White Pass led to the discovery of tucked-away tree stashes, cliffs, pillow lines, and backcountry access. I began to see another shade of White Pass’s beauty: short lift lines, plentiful parking spaces and lodge tables, and freshies that linger in the trees long after the Cascade storm faucets turn off.
Since those early days, I’ve watched the look of my mountain change. The lifts and lodge have been updated, and the demand for a larger area brought last season’s 767-acre expansion into the rolling glades that percolate down Hogback Basin. But White Pass, with its breathtaking view of Mount Rainier, has yet to attract the large-ski-area crowd or lose any of the vibe I remember.
I travel the world, from hamlets in Europe to villages of subsistence farmers in India, to ski. But I always find myself coming back to White Pass to hike with my dog before the chairs open, lap the Basin quad with my nephew Kadyn, and film the backcountry with Nimbus Independent.
Folks come to White Pass for the skiing. There isn’t a village full of restaurants, shops, bars, and hotels. Condo visitors must walk the cold concrete to the outdoor pool, and most of the parking is right along the highway. White Pass may be a bit old-fashioned, but its people don’t need much more than the freedom of the mountains as an excuse to spend time with the family.-Andy Mahre
White Pass: Deep in wine country.
» Average Snowfall: 380 inches » Skiable Acres: 1,500 » Vertical Feet: 2,050 » Advanced/Expert Terrain: 58% » Lift Ticket Price: $58 » Down Day: Wine tasting in the Yakima Valley. Try Thurston Wolfe and Wilridge vineyards. » More Info: skiwhitepass.com