White Pass Sold

Shareholders have approved the sale of the White Pass Ski Area to a partnership of five Yakima businessmen Andrew Sundquist, David Severn, Dan Plath, Adam Dolsen and Patrick Smith, all who live in Yakima this week. Approximately 150 shareholders “overwhelmingly approved” the sale of White Pass Company Inc. Financial details were not disclosed.

“We started our succession planning process several years ago and have taken a slow, methodical approach to find the right opportunity,” said Kevin McCarthy, President of White Pass. “We could not be more excited about having a young, local group of active and interested skiers take the reins of our ski area. Although there has been significant change in the ski business as of late both locally and nationally, this transaction provides an alternate path where White Pass will continue to be owned and operated locally by the next generation. The response from the majority of our shareholders to this potential sale has been overwhelmingly positive.”

The group will retain General Manager Rikki Cooper and the entire staff, including former General Manager Kevin McCarthy, the release said. Cooper took over as GM this summer from McCarthy.  “We started our succession planning process several years ago and have taken a slow, methodical approach to find the right opportunity,” McCarthy said in a statement Thursday. “The transition began this summer with Rikki Cooper taking the reins as GM and is now complete with the sale of the ski area to these young, active members of our White Pass community.”

"We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and be guided by the team at White Pass. They and so many others in our community over the years have put a lot of effort into making White Pass a truly exceptional place - a tradition we aim to continue,” said David Severn, of the partnership group. “Also, as this is the mountain that each of us grew up skiing with our families as little kids and are now doing the same with our own young kids, we understand the importance of maintaining the family-friendly culture of the ski area.”

“Moving forward, White Pass Company Inc. will continue to provide family-friendly recreation for winter sports enthusiasts from across the Pacific Northwest,” Cooper said in a statement. “The longtime leadership at White Pass has set us on a successful pathway and we are looking forward to continuing that growth into the future.”

“White Pass is a truly amazing place that is dearly loved by my family, my friends, and the larger community as well,” added partner Andrew Sundquist. “Our goal and motivation to become involved with White Pass is to keep it locally owned and operated, and to ensure that it maintains the skier-friendly, relaxed, home mountain environment we have all come to love and appreciate.”

White Pass Ski Area is located 53 miles (90 km) west of Yakima on US-12, and 54 miles (90 km) east of Morton. As the crow flies, the pass is 25 miles (40 km) southeast of the summit of Mount Rainier and 30 miles (50 km) north of Mount Adams.

The base elevation of White Pass is at 4,500 feet (1,370 m) above sea level, with a lift-served summit at 6,500 feet (1,980 m), yielding a vertical drop of 2,000 feet (610 m). Located on the south side of the east-west highway, the slopes primarily face north.

The mountain has six chairlifts: two high speed quads, a fixed-grip quad, a triple, and two doubles. It also includes two surface lifts: a platter lift and a magic carpet for beginning skiers. There is a terrain park that regularly features rail jams, slopestyle, and the like.

The Nordic Center provides access to a variety of groomed, double-tracked cross-country ski, trails in the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot National Forests. The terrain challenges all ability levels in classic cross-county, skating cross-country, and snowshoeing on 18 km (11 mi) of trails.

The day lodge has rental skis and boards, food, lockers, and a bar. Across the highway to the north, the White Pass Village Inn offers overnight accommodations.

White Pass Ski Area opened in January of 1953. The initial area only consisted of the Poma Face hill serviced by a number of Rope tows.

Shortly after, the ski area built a Poma surface lift that ran from roughly in front of the present day lodge’s location to the top of the Poma Face. 

In 1956, White Pass expanded to the summit of Pigtail Peak with its very first chairlift. Dubbed Pigtail I, the two-person lift was created by the Riblet Tramway Company of Spokane, Washington. It was a mile (1.6 km) in length, with a vertical rise of 1,500 feet (460 m) from the highway base area to 6,000 feet (1,830 m).  The resort cut two long runs from the summit, which they named Holiday and Cascade. 

White Pass added its second double chairlift, Pigtail II, in the fall of 1958. Also built by Riblet, it ran in parallel with the original chair. This second chair had nearly 30% greater capacity (900 vs. 700/hr), with a more robust cable and gearbox. It also had 50% more lift towers, which were greater in height in anticipation of high snowfall. The installed cost of the second chair exceeded $200,000. The resort also widened Cascade and cut out two additional runs from the summit: Mach V and Paradise. The area started full-week operations for the 1958–59 season, with daily adult lift tickets priced at $3.50.

In 1964, the area added a new Riblet double chairlift to the beginner area. Chair 3 ran from the highway on the east side of the resort to a flat area about a hundred yards below the base of Cascade Cliff. 

Former World Cup racing twins Phil and Steve Mahre (b.1957) grew up at White Pass, where their father Dave "Spike" Mahre was the mountain manager. The twin brothers and their seven siblings lived with their parents in a house near the base of the lifts.

In 1984, the ski area installed Chair 4, another double built by Riblet. This lift ran from roughly halfway down Paradise to the summit of Pigtail Peak. Additionally, the resort cut out three new runs around Paradise that ended at the new lift.

Looking to increase capacity at the base area, White Pass installed a high-speed detachable lift that ran from the highway to the summit in 1994. Built by Doppelmayr, the Great White Express had nearly double the capacity of the two Pigtail lifts combined. The Poma surface lift and Pigtail I were removed to make room for Great White, though some of the Poma’s towers were left on the hill as lighting for night skiing. 

In 2000, White Pass overhauled the beginner area of the mountain. The last remaining rope tow was replaced with a Doppelmayr platterpull. Chair 3 was removed and a new Garaventa triple lift, following a different route, was installed. Beginning in a newly cut-out area to the east of the area, the Far East lift ended at the top of the Poma Face. 

The expansion in the Paradise Basin opened in the 2010–11 season and added 767 acres (3.1 km2) of terrain and two new Doppelmayr chairlifts. The Basin Quad is a fixed-grip quad and the Couloir Express is the area's second high-speed detachable quad. The resort also constructed a new lodge between the new chairlifts.

Pigtail II is one of the oldest still-operating chairlifts in North America. As of 2019, it is the second-oldest chairlift still in operation in Washington state (beaten only by Mount Spokane’s Chair 1).

Share This Article