Snoqualmie Pass Community Underway

evo founder creating new mountain infrastructure

The Alpental backcountry, near Snoqualmie Pass, has plenty of options. PHOTO: WILL BAKER

The Alpental backcountry, near Snoqualmie Pass, has plenty of options. PHOTO: WILL BAKER

It’s hard to imagine that one of North America’s snowiest regions remains undeveloped, but in the Pacific Northwest the observation holds true—no mountain villages, no after-hours restaurants or bars, and save for some scattered cabins off access roads, no accommodations within easy striking distance. While some argue that this fosters the mystique of Northwest skiing, many, including evo founder and pro skier Bryce Phillips, feel this is a void worth addressing. That is why this May Phillips will introduce the Pass Life, an innovative ski community at the top of Snoqualmie Pass in Washington.

“If you look around the nation, name a place that close to a city, with that kind of skier traffic, on a [major] road like I-90, that hasn’t been developed,” says Phillips, 35. “It doesn’t exist. That’s why it’s so strange that this hasn’t been done before.”

The Pass Life will consist of 50 to 100 condos and lofts with plans for a restaurant, museum, brewery, coffee shop, and other amenities also on tap. Perched on five acres at the base of Summit Central, the development is dense, but Phillips thinks proximity and common areas will promote a true mountain community—and all just an hour from the metropolis of Seattle.

“You quickly realize there’s this amazing place…and there’s nowhere to go, there’s no center,” explains Phillips. “As you know with skiing, a major percentage is the camaraderie and the celebration after you’re done for the day…and that’s something we want to be a catalyst for.”

The community will have a brewery, a restaurant, and 50 to 100 lofts. PHOTO: JOHNSTON ARCHITECTS

But the Pass Life was just a thought bubble until a stroke of serendipity. A private group owned the multi-acre parcel for 21 years, and hadn’t once put it on the market according to Phillips. Prepared to make an offer, he received a call from his agent while mountain biking—the land had come up for sale. “Not only that, it came on the market for the exact dollar that I was going to offer,” says Phillips. “I was freaking out.”

The land went to contract in 2007, but the market crash kept Phillips from closing until 2011. After getting SEPA entitlement (aka the environmental ‘O.K.’) from the Washington government, Phillips, a band of like-minded local businessmen, and a team of handpicked builders and engineers broke ground in the fall of 2012.

The buzz was huge, with 11 of the 12 lofts in Phase 1 purchased internally before going public.

“To have a true home on the mountain is incredible,” says Brian Hall, senior sales rep at Marker and one of the first loft owners. “I’m excited to bring my kid up in that environment and have them around snow all the time. It’s something that I never got the chance to do growing up.”

A rendering shows the Pass Life lofts. PHOTO: JOHNSTON ARCHITECTS

A rendering shows the Pass Life lofts. PHOTO: JOHNSTON ARCHITECTS

With Phase 1 to 12 lofts, a restaurant, museum, and brewery—scheduled for completion in December—Phillips is already looking forward to building more of the efficient, environmentally conscious living spaces in Phase 2. The lofts offer high ceilings, massive windows, and gas-fired radiant heat, while appealing to mountain dwellers with ski, snowboard, and bike racks and options for a four-person Jacuzzi. And, as opposed to the multi-million dollar units that line most ski resorts, a two-bedroom unit comes in at $327,000.

But Phillips doesn’t want attractive real estate to distract from the ski-centric community he dreamed up seven years ago. “Don’t lead with the spreadsheet. Lead with the right direction, the right focus, and then make sure it lines up with delivering in a viable way,” he explains. “That’s been the spirit of the project all along, and hopefully that’s what shines through in the end.”

For an exclusive look at the Pass Life, go to Username: passlife; password: lofts.

Posted In: Places, Stories


Add a comment

  • shmange

    How do the people of WA feel about this?

    • will

      strong dislike

      • O


    • snowone

      let’s just say there’s been some, “boycott BP signage” crop up along Alpental road, in recent seasons.

      The larger question is, will there be any snowpack at “The Pass” in a matter of decade(s)…

    • Brian Bybee

      “Lead with the right direction, the right focus… hopefully that’s what shines through in the end.” [x] Fingers-Crossed

      • MrHyak

        I live at Hyak and work in Snoqualmie and it is NOT 10-15 min but more like 25-30 min drive. We NEED activity on this mtn bad, and a good place to eat. Currently we have nothing to do and nowhere to eat after hrs (pancake house is HORRIBLE). The roof line in the concept photo’s does make me scratch my head, but will see what happens. Good luck on the development.

    • Dane Daniel

      Honestly… doesn’t really matter… People are crying about it, but the town of Snoqualmie is only 10-15 minutes away from the Summit (Snoqualmie already offers a full blown Casino with lodging there)… and then there is North Bend another 5 minutes down the road from there… Fall City just past that… By the time you get to Issaquah (around mile marker 20) you are only 20/30 minutes from the Summit and in a fully populated area roughly 15 miles from the Seattle city limits. My point – the population already exists.. so, this will likely just make grabbing a beer after a day on the mountain a little easier, which to me is cool (and maybe it will clear up some of the crowd at Stevens?!!). Furthermore, Snoqualmie is by far the worst skiing in the state, with the exception of Alpental… I meant to get to Alpental this year, but every time I checked the snow report I would head to Stevens, Baker, or Crystal – Snoqualmie/Alpental also sits at a low elevation, making the snow heavy and wet, even in comparison to other WA resorts… The thing is, if you are a true skier who prefers the steeps and back country that Alpental offers, that’s awesome – see you on the chairlift… But the six people who are that dedicated to this one mountain who are willing to drop $400,000+ to be just a tad closer… well, they are likely going to be skiing it all the time anyways. In my opinion, the rest of Snoqualmie is not worth the expense of the lift ticket… And I’d likely rather sit in the lodge and get drunk than waste my time on their bunny slopes. Also, acreage-wise, Alpental is relatively small and definitely does not earn a DESTINATION ski area badge.

      • Dane Daniel

        Correction: Issaquah is not 20 minutes, it’s 36 according to Google Maps… Google says 35.6 miles, but that’s @ 70 mph. Do the math, I say 30 min. ;-)

        • MrHyak

          I-90 is the most traveled mountain highway in the USA and in the summer cars are parked all over along the road with people just dying for things to do up here. Beyond Travelers Rest and the gas station there is nothing. There is more then just the ski season up here, we have hiking/biking/dual sport motorcycle riding/fishing/and many other things that attract people to the Summit outside of ski season. You need to look beyond the small scope of what you do.

  • An Architects Thoughts

    Flat roofs in a heavy snow pack environment? Seems like a poor design choice. Don’t all snow experts understand roof pitch need to be approximately 38 degrees or steeper.

    • Aaron Cooperman

      Whether you shed snow or not – you still need to design for max snow load. Steep roofs are a misconception – sliding snow kills cats! Holding snow is a much better design choice, have a look at Austrian chalets. Aaron

    • Longtermpassloke

      what Aaron said, and, a single pitch roof makes sense relative to the community that is being developed as it means that build up and removal of snow will happen at the back of the dwelling, not between or in front of.
      As far as the roofs ability to hold snow, or shed, unless you have seen blueprints, and materials spec, how can you really comment. As a point of comparison, look a the pitch of the roof on the Alpental ski area lodges, not that steep a pitch.

  • NW-yeti

    This Is long overdue. Some people dislike change and they are often the most vocal but the whole area will benefit from amenities, jobs and better designed homes built for the snowpack.

  • Ross

    The right move at the right time! The pass is hurting for a community flow. Nice work Bryce!

  • Hulksmashchop Martin

    This is like that guy who was like, Its the American side of Niagra Falls, itll be great!

  • Alpentallocal

    hahah whoever designed these dangerous houses doesn’t know northwest snow, make your roofs steeper!! This just seems like a rich condo community, someone build some developments that are more affordable dammit!

  • loke

    the pass isn’t even going to have enough snow to sustain operation in a couple decades.

    The pass itself also doesn’t have the man power or operating ability to become a commercial resort like PC or breck. The only thing i’d travel to summit for if i didn’t live close to it would be chair 2, and we all know that line’s a disaster as it is; all the seattle dad’s who think they shred hold and guard their spot in that 45 minutes line like a dog with a bone.

    I can’t imagine anymore traffic to summit. Thank god im moving.

    • Infiniteworld

      You have to wonder if any of these developers bother to read any climate change predictions because it seems pretty likely Snoqualmie (not to mention Whistler) won’t have much in the way of snow pretty soon. Hard to see how lift access mountain biking is going to support these huge infrastructure investments.
      The word among people who work on this sort of thing is “‘By 2050, there won’t be any more skiing at Snoqualmie; it’s over,’ said Cliff Mass, atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington.” (

  • Lucy

    Wait okay hold on, so you’re telling me my favorite tiny mountain is only going to get more crowded? Please go develop Crystal and leave us alone.

  • Powder Pig

    Could it be because, although close to Seattle, the skiing there absolutely sucks (sorry Alpensmall)?

  • NWnoesis

    Please understand, the influx will not serve as bettering the “flow”, yet divert and divide. Im worried for Alpental. Whats next a ramada and mcdonalds in glacier on the way up to Baker ?

  • PW7

    Yeah, but who ever took that picture must a TGR maggot or something…..

  • Kathy Weir

    It has stayed un-developed for so long because people in the snoqualmie and seattle area know how to enjoy a beautiful peice of nature without building all over it. Take these ideas elsewhere, to a mountain community that is in fact, “lacking” because the pass is certainly not.

  • Jon

    Washington is way overdue for something like this. This should be at Crystal, but this will do

  • Northbender

    100% think this is the right direction. Grew up skiing here and I live in NB. Kudos to Bryce and his team for coming up with something by locals for locals. Skeptics will always be skeptics. Thanks for the courage and the investment of your own fruits of labor to make something for all of us an even better possibility. Good on all of you….

  • Bomb squad

    Drop cliffs not bombs!!!!!!!
    Save the pass from development and take this idea elsewhere

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