Last season the resort had some issues opening due to the slow start to the season. Because of that, they have dragged out an old project from the back of the closet that had never come to fruition. Basically, all the lovely, sort of secret terrain on the north (back) side of the mountain in the Window Pane and Stumptown areas will now be up for grabs by the not-so-adventurous. They are talking about cutting trails and adding a lift in those areas. Read all about it here: http://skiwhitefish.com/future_projects.php.
Big news at the Big - Whitefish Mountain Resort
wish they would do the chairs first, North side is pretty flat and this won't add much other than some low snow pack skiing. The main thing I don't like about Whitefish is the long cat track to get back to the main chair from the runs we like. Needing 2 chairs to do Hellroaring also kind of sucks, but it's a great hill - (haven't found a perfect one yet.)
I don't think this will be that flat. The bottom of the chair appears to be in the hollow just below the road that outlines the upper border of the tree farms pretty far out. That area is steeper than towards the center of the mountain. So, the extremely flat lower half of the back side terrain is largely cut out. In addition, the upper reaches of Window Pane and Stumptown have some fairly steep sections. Granted, the vertical gain is pretty negligible, 800 feet, but it would add quite a bit of more usable acreage to the terrain in the back. Once you remove trees for the runs of course, the perceived steepness will be reduced.
I can't see that putting a chair over on East Rim would be any different in terms of impact than this. I think this backside project actually buys MORE terrain. This area is largely left alone by all but the most determined. During the week, you have to traverse in quite a ways to get over to Window Pane, trying to prevent loss of altitude, but usually finding knee deep untracked fluff when you get there. That will no longer be the case. Now that stuff will be much easier to hit with almost no dedication required. The East Rim/Evan's expanse, on the other hand, is already plenty easy to do, but you have to pay the price of the cat track. (Nowhere NEAR the price of a backside traverse through the woods.) Adding a chair to avoid that cat track will REALLY muck up the ER/Evan's area, it's just not that large an area. Add to that the fact that the southern exposure of the East Rim/Evan's area means more "iffiness" and I can see why the resort might think the payoff is bigger on the back side. As a local, however, it's a bigger horror. The average visitor might venture into Stumptown from Goat Haunt, but rarely do they take the time to really penetrate over much further.
Personally, I wish they'd run a chair up Hellroaring Peak. But I'm sure that some other local would take exception to that.
yes have "bushwacked with Jack" (you probably know him) back into that area but personally never found it really worth the effort. East Rim NBC I can see locals not wanting more traffic but the run out is a pain. One lift out of Hellroaring would add a lot.
Sorry, don't know which Jack you mean. Did a search on "Jack's" and only came up with a guy who I thought spent all his time in the bar.
I'm thinking part of the reason for them to look at this project instead of a Hellroaring Peak project is that this was approved before so they probably hope that by resuscitating a project that was already approved they can get going on it sooner. The 4/5 project was already approved as well. I don't remember ever hearing of a proposal to provide service up to Hellroaring Peak. (Doesn't mean much, this backside project has 17 years of dust on it.)
Edited by sibhusky - 5/26/12 at 8:45am
don't even know Jack's last name (and wouldn't post it anyway) but was a local who every one we encountered coming out of the same areas seemed to know. I know the season started slow at Whitefish - so it was the first time in many years we didn't ski there - but
hope it was successful enough for the resort to spend the dough. 17 years is a long waiting period for anything.
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Hey I haz a question for the Whitefish locals. I haven't been there in like 12 years, but didn't there used to be another chair on the frontside somewhere's around Moe-Mentum up to the peak? I thought there was a second one besides Chair 5 just around that bowl???
Going up the front, there is Chair 1 (HSQ) and Chair 5 (triple starting half way up and continuing to the summit). Lower down is Chair 4 (From bottom of Bad Rock to mid-mountain). Now, Chair 4 used to continue up further to intersect with Inspiration. There are plans to restore that longer route "soon". Chair 5 is scheduled to be slid eastwards from bottom of Moe-mentum to bottom of Ant Hill. I do not believe there was a chair that did that in the past, although I could be wrong about that. If so, it was longer than 12 years ago. Older versions of Chair One were in essentially the same area as its current location. Really old maps of the area don't show it, but I guess it's possible something did terminate at the bottom of Moe-mentum at one time. I'll ask around. However, I have gone back to satellite imagery on Google Earth back to June of 1990 and not seen any evidence of a lift in that area.
Found three old maps aside from the the trail maps in my desk drawer. Big gap in the 70 - 80's era, so not really complete:
Trail names have migrated around the mountain quite a bit since the above, but I think Toni Matt has stayed put and it doesn't show much off to the right from there. I have a mug of this same map and there is definitely no lift shown over on that far right side even though the map on the mug is larger.
Is Hellroaring Peak inside the resort lease? I agree with SibHusky, putting a new chair up there would absolutely be number one on the wish list. The Chair 5 relocate has one significant downside; it would destroy the aesthetics of the East Rim. Too bad Chair 5 couldn't end up on the other side of Russ's (Flower Point).
Good point, Uphillskier, a glance at the trail map shows Hellroaring Peak outside the ski area boundary, whereas Flower Point appears to be just within. Not sure if "ski area boundary" equals "permit area" or just "sort of patrolled" area.
They should relocate Chair 5 so that it starts at the junction of Moementum and Russ's Street and ends where it ends now. Take it up No Name / Elephant's. Keep lift towers off East Rim. You can access all of the Eastern mountain from the current Chair 5 terminus.
Phil, I never did the cat skiing. I know they did it before we moved here, but it was discontinued right after that. I think they did go to Flower Point, but not positive.
Looking at the map, I'd have to say yes. That'll make even more people unhappy.
The WMR management seems to have become overly focussed on bottom line. All the current improvements are about $$, about attracting 1 percenters (real estate) and installing tacky tourist attractions (see the summer activities). There's no vision, nothing to excite the real skiers. They tinker (Bigfoot T-Bar, Bad Rock chair) without making any real committments to the genuine skier. This North Side development seems like more of the same - it's being done to increase revenues. If they keep this up, they're going to lose the battle for the real skiers to Kicking Horse, Fernie, Revelstoke, even Big Sky resorts that are making genuine improvements to the ski experience.
Well, I have to disagree. For the first time in decades, they are on solid financial ground, having turned away from making money on real estate when they were working with the Hines group, to making money on OPERATIONS, the way it should be. I certainly want them to be financially solvent, as the alternative if they can't make it is long trips to Fernie or Schweitzer. Summer activities might be tacky, but it allows them to better utilize their facilities. It doesn't affect me as I don't go up in the summer and it does impact employment in the valley (My daughter has worked there three summers so far -- hopefully this being the last as she is off to grad school in the fall. But that work is allowing her to pay for grad school.) Better utilization of the facilities they have with MINIMAL investment to install these ziplines and tree top platforms and mountain bike trails helps defray costs that might have been passed onto the regulars in increased locker fees and seasonal passes.
As to "exciting the real skiers". Let me ask you, do you think us "real skiers" are paying the rent? I'm certainly not. I didn't drop ONE DIME for food or booze the last two seasons. I pay for a locker (the price of which is killing me, I admit, but sounds cheap after hearing what others are paying at other resorts) and the pass. Even if I add the locker price to the season pass, I pay less than $10 a day to ski. That doesn't pay for the lifties, the ski patrol, the electricity, the restrooms, does it? Most of my friends spend even less per day with foregoing the locker or renting one in a less desirable building. What carries the resort is destination skiers and unfortunately that skier demographics wants high speed lifts, grooming, snowmaking, etc.
I just checked the pass rates at Fernie for an adult. Maybe I missed the "sale" period (ours is still on), but the link took me to something that shows the adult pass for next season as a thousand dollars. Guess what, I'll pay $580. Price at Big Sky? Same thing, a grand. Revelstoke, $679. Kicking Horse, $979. (Wow, after reading THOSE prices, maybe I should make a donation to my resort!!!) Now tell me, which resort is doing more for "real skiers" (to ME, skiers that ski as many days as possible, possibly foregoing full time employment to do so)???? What "genuine improvements" to the ski experience could you want? If you are an "uphill skier", it's certainly not more high speed lifts.
The stated reason for increasing access to the North side of the mountain was to provide more terrain during low snow years. I guess they could invest in more snowmaking...or better thinning of brush (which would be my preference). But last season they blasted through their water allowance early on, so more snowmaking wouldn't have helped, they would just have run out of water faster. Plus, I'm sure that would go right into the lift ticket price. I'm guessing this "new" chair will be a used chair from some other mountain or from their own sheds.
I don't LIKE the idea of what they are planning, but I understand the reasoning. There is a lot of underutilized terrain on this mountain that only the locals know about. Management is just trying to do the most with what they have.
Hmmm... good post Sib.
I'm a little conflicted between wanting to keep the lesser-known stashes preserved as is for locals, and the keen awareness that I'm not a local. From the perspective of a tourist coming to what, for me, would be a destination resort, I would likely benefit from any new lifts or lift re-alignments that allow me to access such terrain more easily with the limited time I would have.
Edited by DesiredUsername - 6/28/12 at 10:47am
in a typical year I usually ski between a dozen to 20 areas in Washington Montana Alberta and B.C.. I don't see development ruining hiking to powder stashes at any resort, all areas have them and they will always be there perhaps just out a little further. If your skiing the same hill all season taking the time to do a hike is worth doing to get variety. Most tourists won't. What attracts me is good access to challenging terrain without excessive slow out runs followed by multiple chairs logistics. There are so many good hills (all are in short driving range) that if any mountain doesn't keep up eventually they will be by passed and left with the locals only. While that might sound good initially to "preserve the stash", in a small interior town that will be the start of eventual ruin. Local season pass holders don't add much to the till while on the hill nor fill the bars, restaurants and beds afterward. Lots of towns need the cash flow as well as the hill.