Lift-Accessed Backcountry: Drop into Wenatchee Bowl, Stevens Pass

Comments by Freeskier Magazine/

by Ian Coble

Right in the heart of the Cascades, Stevens Pass appears a sleepy little resort at first glance. Don’t be deceived by its tranquil persona—it’s a rowdy mountain with deep snow and hidden technical lines. Wenatchee Bowl is one of its hidden gems.

You’ll first spot Wenatchee Bowl from Stevens’ eastern parking lot, looker’s left of the resort. Situated along the Northeastern crest of the resort, Wenatchee Bowl is guarded at its summit by old growth trees and rocky outcroppings. Many of the lines at Stevens are characterized by tight entrances with technical crux moves that eventually yield to friendly terrain. Once past Wenatchee’s entrance, the bowl opens up into a wide powder field that’s frequently wind loaded with deep snow. It’s not uncommon to find significantly deeper conditions here than anywhere else on the mountain.

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Tyler Ceccanti shot by Ian Coble

From the base, ride Big Chief chair and then Double Diamond chair. Head out the access gate to your left, along Polaris Ridge. There are no signs for Wenatchee Bowl along the ridge, but you’ll hike past the Death Chutes on your left and continue past the ski area boundary sign, hiking to the high point of the ridge (about a 30-40 minute hike from the top of the chair). This high point marks the start of Wenatchee Bowl on your left hand side. You’ll know you’re in the right place if there is a large, wide-open bowl to your right side (Highland Bowl). There are no clear or obvious paths into Wenatchee Bowl and all entrances will require navigating tight, off camber chutes, bare rock or mandatory airs. You may find cleaner entrances if you work your way a little past the high point. Once you near the bottom of the bowl, you’ll want to head hard skiers left to return to the resort. Eventually, you’ll reach the Highway 2 on the East side of the Pass and a short hike along the shoulder will bring you back to the base.

Wenatchee Bowl is prone to avalanches. Be prepared. As mentioned above, the entrance has some highly technical moves. Go with a local.

Hike: 3
Ski: 7

Like this? You may also want to ski Brown Shorts at Revelstoke.

*Hike and ski ratings are in terms of difficulty: 1 being relatively easy, 10 being very challenging. This article originally appeared in the 2013 FREESKIER Backcountry Issue. Subscribe to the magazine, or get it on the iTunes Newsstand.