Resort opens with skiing on north side

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The sun shines on Big Mountain morning as viewed from downtown Whitefish. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

Whitefish Mountain Resort will open for its 71st season on Thursday, Dec. 6.

New snow coupled with cold temperatures have set the stage for opening day, according to the resort, with north side skiing and riding available. The settled base at the summit is at 33 inches.

Downloading on Chair 1 will be required. Chair 1 will open at 9:30 a.m. with the last upload at 2:30 p.m.

“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. In addition to season pass holders we look forward to welcoming back our returning guests, and to getting acquainted with our new guests,” Whitefish Mountain Resort CEO Dan Graves said. “Snowmaking crews are working around the clock to open additional terrain in time for the weekend.”

Chairs 1, 5, 6, 7 and T-Bar 2 will open on Thursday 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.

“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.”

Due to safety concerns and low snowpack on the front side of the mountain, officials at Whitefish Mountain Resort and the Flathead National Forest have agreed 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.

Most of the mountain’s front side terrain will be closed until it receives more snow. With these closures, the entire Benny Up Route falls within an in-bounds closure, and currently the resort has extensive snowmaking operations in that area. The lower section of East Route is located in a closed area, and its upper section is located on the Moe Mentum and Russ’s Street runs which will be open Thursday. With limited terrain available for its guests, the upper section of the East Route does not provide enough acreage to handle both downhill and uphill traffic safely, therefore the East Route will be closed temporarily pending the opening of more terrain.

Conditions will be assessed daily and uphill travel will resume as soon as trail and snow conditions allow, according to the resort.

On opening day, Food & Beverage services will be available at the Base Lodge Coffee and Village Coffee. The Summit House will be open serving guests at the top of the mountain. Additionally the Base Lodge Café and Base Lodge Bar be open with their regular hours.

The Kids Center & Daycare will be open as well as terrain appropriate lessons at the Ski & 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.

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.

For more information, visit www.skiwhitefish.com.

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