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White Pass Ski Area opened for season Saturday

Rachel Emmons of Yakima watches Nora Emmons ski the Snow Devil run at White Pass in 2015. The ski area was able to open for the season on Saturday.
Rachel Emmons of Yakima watches Nora Emmons ski the Snow Devil run at White Pass in 2015. The ski area was able to open for the season on Saturday. Olympian file photo

A major dose of snow in the Cascade Mountains has ushered the ski season in early for skiers and snowboarders. Those accumulations meant White Pass Ski Area was able to open the slopes for the winter season Saturday morning — at least a week and a half earlier than typical.

“It’s always nice to be open the weekend before Thanksgiving if you can because it sets you up nicely for that four-day weekend, and beyond,” Kevin McCarthy, general manager at White Pass Ski Area, told The Chronicle. “That and it just takes some of the pressure off because you’ve got snow.”

White Pass picked up about 8 inches of snow Wednesday and Thursday then added as much as 8 more inches at the summit between Thursday and Friday morning. That brought the snowpack up to 44 inches at the summit and 24 inches at the base. The temperature Saturday afternoon was 29 degrees at the base and 26 degrees at the summit.

Although they have enough snow to open, McCarthy advised that, like most seasons, some spots on the mountain require exercise caution.

“We won’t have the steeps open, and as we always like to say, early in the season there’s a lot of terrain out there. You don’t have the deep snowpack that fills in all the rolls, which in some cases it’s a lot more fun in the early season, but you’ve got to pay attention,” McCarthy said.

On the bunny slope, visitors to White Pass will notice a few upgrades intended to take some of the sting out of those first awkward trips down the hill. McCarthy noted they’ve added a covered carpet for transporting skiers and boarders up the hill and also extended the length of a existing carpet lift.

“If you’re a beginner or novice, we’ve completely revamped the learning areas,” said McCarthy, who compared the carpet lifts to the conveyor belt-style walkways found at airports. “It takes the difficulty of getting up the hill out of the equation. Even with chairlifts, if you’re a beginner, it can be difficult to get on or off the chair.

“The rope tow is a thing of the past,” McCarthy said.

The most current snow conditions at White Pass can be found at skiwhitepass.com/snow-report, or by calling 509-672-3100.

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