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New Terrain: White Pass, Washington Doubles in Size

One of the most low-key ski areas in Washington is doubling in size next season with two new lifts that access some great terrain. It's a project 
that's been 34 years in the making. Last week we got a chance to 
preview the goods.

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White Pass, located 55 miles west of Yakima, Washington, first started off in 1952 with four rope tows. It is a small low-key, family-type mountain…

White Pass, located 55 miles west of Yakima, Washington, first started off in 1952 with four rope tows. It is a small low-key, family-type mountain with a few steeps great gladed terrain and a ton of history that includes three generations of the Mahre family. “Fridays are your best bet for good snow—all week to snow and no crowds to ski it off,” says Day Lodge Manager and 31-year White Pass Local Louie Vimont. But what White Pass lacks are long rolling intermediate to expert on- and off-piste terrain. This will all change next season after the completion of a 767-acre expansion project that will bring the total size of White Pass to 1,402 acres and increase its vert by 600 to 2050 feet. Two new lifts, Chairs 5 and 6, and a 3,000-square-foot mid-mountain lodge are under construction in the Hogback Basin southwest of the current terrain. Chair 5 is a fixed-grip quad that rises 600 vertical feet. It is the second from right in the above map. Chair 6 is a detachable quad that rises 900 vertical feet. It is the far right lift on the above map. The expansion will spread out skier traffic, open up many long rolling bowls, natural and gladed runs, and cruisers, as well as provide easy access to world-class backcountry terrain in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Scroll through the following slides to see photos of the expansion area and some action from the Goat Rocks Wilderness with Billy Mann of Truckee, California.

This is the base terminal of Chair 5. This is a fixed-grip quad that rises 900 vertical feet.

This is the base terminal of Chair 5. This is a fixed-grip quad that rises 900 vertical feet.

Mount Rainier would be visible to the left on a clear day.

Mount Rainier would be visible to the left on a clear day.

The lodge will occupy the area that is packed out in the foreground. The structure visible are the composting toilets. They are comparable to the…

The lodge will occupy the area that is packed out in the foreground. The structure visible are the composting toilets. They are comparable to the world’s largest outhouse.

The cable sits ready at the base area.

The cable sits ready at the base area.

The 1984 Washington Wilderness Act removed 800 acres for ski development in Hogback Basin at White Pass in exchange for 23,000 acres of wilderness…

The 1984 Washington Wilderness Act removed 800 acres for ski development in Hogback Basin at White Pass in exchange for 23,000 acres of wilderness that was included to the wilderness system 20 years ago. Above Billy Mann drops into his own private wilderness skiing literally on top of the Pacific Crest Trail. Hogback Mountain is in the background. The expansion terrain is over the ridge to the right.

The south-facing aspects proved to have a pretty good corn harvest going on. Billy Mann getting into the creamy stuff.

The south-facing aspects proved to have a pretty good corn harvest going on. Billy Mann getting into the creamy stuff.

Billy Mann carves butter in the Wilderness.

Billy Mann carves butter in the Wilderness.

Our guide, Ben Turnin, hits Gunsight on his way back into the expansion terrain.

Our guide, Ben Turnin, hits Gunsight on his way back into the expansion terrain.

What better way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day than with a Guinness at the Sitzmark Bar upstairs in the base lodge.

What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than with a Guinness at the Sitzmark Bar upstairs in the base lodge.