A winter storm that lingered through last weekend has boosted snow depths on Big Mountain just in time for Whitefish Mountain Resort to open for its 71st season Thursday.
According to the resort, the new snow coupled with cold temperatures set the stage for north side skiing and riding, however downloading on Chair 1 will be required. The settled base at the summit is at 33 inches.
“Another Opening Day has arrived and we are very excited to welcome more season pass holders than ever before — it’s their devotion to this resort that makes this day and this mountain so special,” Whitefish Mountain Resort CEO Dan Graves said in a press release. “Snowmaking crews are working around the clock to open additional terrain in time for the weekend.”
On Thursday chairs 1, 5, 6, 7 and T-Bar 2 will open to provide access to the north and east side of the mountain. Chair 1 will open for access to the north side of the mountain at 9:30 a.m. Chair 6 will open at 9 a.m. to provide access to the Lift Plaza and Chair 1 from the Base Lodge and lower parking lots. There will not be any terrain open to ski down to the Base Lodge. The resort will provide shuttles to transport guests between the Lift Plaza and Base Lodge as well as lower mountain parking lots.
Chair 7 will open at 9:45 a.m. and open runs in the area include: Caribou, Black Bear, Goat Haunt, Gray Wolf, Kodiak, Marmot, Silvertip and Whitetail. Bigfoot T-Bar 2 also will open at 9:45 a.m. with access to Big Creek, Whiskey Spring, North fork to Inside Road, Inside Road, Lynx, Lodi Ridge and Trapper’s Trail.
Going toward the east side, Russ’s Street to Moe Mentum, Moe Mentum, North Bowl Face and Evan’s Heaven all will open and be service by Chair 5 which will open at 9:45 a.m. All terrain below Chair 5 will be closed.
Downloading on Chair 1 will be available throughout the day. Due to weight-load requirements passengers will be loaded every third chair on the way down. T-Bar 2 and Chair 5 will close at 3 p.m. and Chair 7 will close at 3:30 p.m. Chair 6 will close at 2:30 p.m.
Additional terrain may become available during the day as determined by ski patrol.
The Chipmunk run is expected to open by Friday providing ski access to the Base Lodge. For Saturday the resort plans to open Chair 3 and the Hope Slope run along with the Big Easy Carpet to provide additional beginner terrain.
The price of a daily ticket will be reduced to $62 for adults ages 19-64, $58 for teens ages 13-18 and seniors ages 65-69 and $35 for juniors ages 7-12. Super seniors 70 & older and children 6 and under are free.
“We’d like to remind everyone to ski and ride with care, within their ability levels, and remember early season conditions exist, unmarked obstacles and other natural terrain features may be encountered at any time,” said David Stephens, Whitefish Mountain Resort ski patrol manager. “Skiers and riders need to respect all closures and safety signage. It’s a long season and we want you to enjoy every day, please do not enter closed trails. Season pass holders who enter inbounds closures risk losing their pass privileges and persons leaving the resort boundary are reminded that you are on your own.”
Food and beverage services will be available. The Kids Center and Daycare will be open as well as terrain appropriate lessons at the Ski and Ride School. Additional services available Opening Day include the Base Lodge Rentals, Village Rentals as well as Base Lodge Traders, Snow Ghost Outfitters and Summit House Gifts.
Due to concern for public safety and low snowpack on the front side of the mountain, officials at Whitefish Mountain Resort and the Flathead National Forest agree that a temporary closure of uphill skiing is necessary until the resort receives more snow. This closure will be effective as of Dec. 6, which is opening day.