It’s amazing over the years how popular White Pass Ski Resort (I call it a resort – sounds more classy) has become. We built our first cabin in Packwood years ago and it all started that first winter…the phone calls. People wanted to rent our cabin to go skiing at White Pass. This is the reason why we built our first cabin…I was addicted to skiing. We knew that with our busy lifestyle we needed a place to go when we wanted to just relax and unwind.
We discovered White Pass one weekend after packing up the whole family, all their skies, poles, boots, clothing and food to go skiing at Crystal Mt. A few weeks prior to this we attempted to go skiing at Crystal and the parking lot was full and they turned us away at the bottom of the access road. Can you believe that it happened a second time? Yes, here we were, 3 kids, all their gear and after and hour and half drive we get turned around for the second time. Now I can’t tell you how angry and disappointed I was. We drive back down the hill to Graham (that’s Graham, WA where we lived at the time) and resolved not to do that again. We had heard about this smaller ski area called White Pass and we decided to give it a try.
That next weekend we headed to White Pass with the family. Packed the car, the equipment, the clothes, the food and drove the 2 hours to White Pass. About 15 miles before the ski area we passed through this little cute town called Packwood. We were like WOW, that’s cool, a little ski town. It was a few years later that we explored the town and area only to discover that many people had the same idea…Ski Town…Ski Area…Ski Town…Ski Area…realizing that there were not too many places in the northwest that had little ski towns close to the ski hill. Packwood was this little peninsula of a town surrounded by mt peaks on all 3 sides and above them all was the majestic Mt Rainier. It was soon thereafter we bought our first piece of land for $7000 and built that first cabin. This was the beginning of Great Northwest Cabins.Needless to say our first experience at White Pass was a pleasure. It was, at that time, a smaller family area that was very kid friendly. You can pull right up to the lodge and unload all your gear and bring your kids right into the childcare. We were impressed with the childcare, the room, the toys, the staff, were all very helpful. They have a great program where they take your kids out to play in the snow. They put them on little kid skies with the goal of helping them to have a good first experience sliding around in the snow. All 3 of our kids learned to ski at White Pass. There are 2 free lifts for beginners, the magic carpet and platter…a great learning environment and oh yes did I mention FREE! Today our whole family is avid skiers and we love our annual ski trips to White Pass.
We had heard about this expansion plan that White Pass was working on for over 2 decades. Because it was taking so long no one in town really believed it would happen. Well kudos to the staff at White Pass because it did happen. White Pass doubled its skiable acreage with 2 new lifts and a beautiful mid mountain lodge. When you venture back to this new area called “Paradise Basin” you feel like your skiing little Whistler.
So what does a day look like for the Trombi family at White Pass? Well, we first get up at about 7:30 at the cabin and get ready to head up the pass which is only 12-15 mi away, depending on what cabin you are staying at. We make our own lunch, sandwiches and top Ramon are in order with drinks and snacks packed in the backpack. Highway 12 (now the White Pass Scenic Byway) is so well taken care of you rarely ever have to put chains on unless it’s just dumping as you head up. We still pull right up to the lodge, even though our kids are older now, to unload the skies and equipment. The family heads in to put their boots on and get ready for a great day!
I park the car and head over to buy the lift tickets and then head into the lodge to put my boots on. After attaching all lift tickets, with back pack lunch in tow, we head up the Great White quad lift. At the top we now ski over to the Basin Quad and take that up as well. Our first stop is the new lodge called High Camp. This is a beautiful new timber lodge with a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier. It’s a great place to take a break or eat lunch after skiing the runs of Paradise Basin. We stash our lunch here and get ready to ski the basin for the first half of the day. First we head to the detachable quad called the Coulier Express just right below the lodge. This is the highest lift at White Pass and accesses all the great runs of the basin. Most are great cruisers. When it’s clear there is no better view of Mt Rainier and the surrounding peaks anywhere in the state of Washington.
White Pass gets over 400 inches of snow every year so it is not unusual to have fresh powder every other day even late into the season. And because this area leans more towards the east side of the Cascades the snow is a lot drier then say Crystal or Stevens Pass. I went skiing with some friends last year in April and we had sunshine and 8″ of fresh POW. It was perfect. Once you get off the lift and go right towards the West Ridge Access Trail and you have all the back country glade and bowl skiing your legs can handle. That day we were skiing the open fields of powder all morning making fresh tracks up till lunch time.
After a morning of cruising and fun we head to the High Camp Lodge. Time to eat! There is nothing like a great lunch after a morning of crusing. The lodge offers some great food and microbrews if you didn’t bring your lunch. On a sunny day sit outside as the staff fires up the bbq and serves it up. For dessert my kids love the homemade brownies and cookies.
After skiing the back side we over to the front side. You can ski past the Yurt to chair 4 and take that back up to the top or you can ski all the way to the base and take Great White up again. It’s fun either way. Now it’s time to ski our old time favorite trails like Cascade and Holiday. I’ll never forget my youngest daughter at 6 years old. She had taken classes for a few years and I would take her out and she would ski between my legs. That year we headed to Holiday and she insisted that she could do it alone. I pushed her off and she just started going, turning and screaming for joy. I never from that point on had to ski with her between my legs.
After cruising down Cascade my kids love to take every little trail and shoot…so much fun. And perhaps maybe a run down Cascade Cliff or the famous mogul trail Holiday Cliff.
The last area that we love (this used to be refereed to as back side) is the 4 trails surrounding chair 4…Paradise, Quail, or Grouse. On the Paradise Trail is our traditional 3:15 stop at the famous White Pass Yurt. This place has character and is full of people and families that have been stopping here for years. Come on in and relax, warm up and get a big cup of hot chocolate, cold beer and another famous brownie. Anyone we have ever taken skiing at White Pass has experienced the Yurt. In spring, skiers and boarders are stewn out around the yurt laughing and enjoying the sunshine and atmosphere of a very special place.
Time to head down and call it a day. Tucking the cat track is in order. A little poling and you are back at the lodge. With no kids another drink in the bar next to the fireplace might be in order or perhaps the hot tub at the cabin is calling you only 12 mi away.
We all hope that mom put a stew in the crock pot at the cabin because we are sure hungry. If not a Cruisers Pizza is always a great alternative in town. Another beautiful day at the ever increasing popular White Pass! Another relaxing night in the bedroom community of Packwood, WA…the still undiscovered Ski Town at the base of Mt Rainier!
For information about White Pass log onto http://www.skiwhitepass.com
To rent one of our 4 custom built ski cabins log onto http://www.greatnorthwestcabins.com or call us anyday from 9-9 PST at 503-492-8783. We would be glad to answer any question you may have about our cabins!
We hope you stay with us, you will not be disappointed!