This should fall under the heading, “Did you know?” Every year on the first weekend of March, at the summit of White Pass a Winter Carnival beckons snow lovers. I just experienced the 27th annual carnival and found the wealth of activities a delight.
White Pass is located on US Highway 12 on the White Pass Scenic Byway. Many Washingtonians haven’t even visited this ski area and are surprised learn about what goes on there. It offers 1,500 acres of Alpine terrain, Nordic trails and lodging. Snow enthusiasts can downhill and cross country ski, snowboard and snowshoe. The lodge handles equipment rental, has child care, serves food and beverages and houses a well-stocked pro shop.
But back to the carnival. Several volunteers, many who work in the construction business, build a snow castle that becomes the showcase sculpture for the event. More than 15 people helped to create the castle this year. It is made with forms packed with snow. Each element of the structure contains a number of forms, so it’s a slow process, but it’s done that way to make it safe. Throngs of folks walk through the castle at the event, something the kids especially treasure.
A safe, snow structure is subject to a most unpredictable Mother Nature.
“It’s crucial that it stays cold for the castle. Rain and wind beat it up,” said David Ruby, a Packwood resident and lead volunteer.
The normal time frame to complete the castle is two weeks; that’s without any unexpected weather fronts.
Touring the castle and using the slide inside is free for everyone. Other activities may involve a fee.
During daylight hours on Saturday and Sunday, skiers and boarders race, take lessons or just tackle some runs for fun. On Saturday evening, a dinner of prime rib or spaghetti is available for purchase. As the night draws to a close, the entire ski patrol carries torches and crisscrosses on skis down the main hill. That signals the beginning of the fireworks show and the end of the evening. Sunday sees more of the same.
I urge you to mark your calendars for the first weekend in March, 2014, so you too can take part in the festivities at White Pass. Or visit anytime to play in the snow.
For other winter activities available now, look at Visit Rainier.