Whitefish – Basecamp for the North Rockies

Whitefish – Memories for a lifetime

A solo trip into the woods of Glacier National Park...

A solo trip into the woods of Glacier National Park…

 

What do most people look for in snowboard/ski trip?

Sure, we all want those deep azure blue sky “blower” powder days where it seems like you are riding through air and turns are immensely easy but most of all we are looking for memories on our trips. Whitefish will not disappoint in both. As soon as your foot steps off of the plane this place seems different it almost seems magical.

Reasons to visit Whitefish

  • No Crowds
  • 3,000 acres of terrain
  • The local charm

There are no crowds, the locals smile and say “Howdy, welcome to Whitefish”. A town of less than 10,000 people with a ski resort with over 3,000 acres leads to powder days that you aren’t begging for more but rather begging for your legs to last one more run. Like Montana’s character, the snow reports and acreage are understated. Even though Whitefish rarely gets those infamous epic storms the Wasatch and Sierra Nevada’s receive when they do receive a 4 inch powder day at Whitefish it will ski as big as a foot of fresh snow anywhere else and nearly every acre of the mountain can be skied.

Big Mountain is beckoning for you to come and visit

Whitefish mountain resort from town getting hammered with fresh snow.

Whitefish mountain resort from town getting hammered with fresh snow.

As “Big Mountain” has beckoned to be ridden by so many people it will call you from town to head up. As you walk up to the main lift, Chair 1, you might be shocked by the amount of folks standing at the lift line. Don’t worry, there is a reason why this place is called “Big Mountain”. As soon as you pull away from the lift all those people will suddenly disappear. To start the day take a few laps down Toni Matt or Big Ravine to get an idea of the type of terrain that Whitefish has in store for you… You will notice that the trails are cut in a way that they seem to be like race tracks looping up and down and around perfect for taking long smooth carves. If the infamous fog rolls in and the reason why the top of Big Mountain has their trademark “Snowghosts” it’s time to jump into the trees to get your bearings. To find trees just drop off of any of the main groomed runs such as Toni Matt or Inspiration. For less steep terrain with trees head to the backside the trail pitch is gentle and it is a great place to introduce your kids or your girlfriend to the “trees”. George’s Gorge has well-spaced small pine trees which help build confidence as well as learn how to do quick small turns with minimum risk.

 

Looking from the Summit of Whitefish towards Goat Hunt trail

Looking from the Summit of Whitefish towards Goat Hunt trail

If it is a sunny day be sure to head straight to Inspiration. There is a reason why this trail is called “Inspiration”… As you make the final turn from the summit onto Inspiration the horizon opens up the slope slowly drops down and Whitefish exposes the entire Flathead Valley in front of you with a view of the majestic peaks of Glacier National Park in the distance.

Beginners

This mountain is perfect for families and inexperienced riders. Chair 6 – The Village lift is a nice place to learn that you get a feeling that you are within the ski resort, but at the same time separated from the more expert skiers on the mountain giving everyone an opportunity to learn without any pressure. Once you are ready to take some intermediate terrain head over to Chair 2 Swift Creek Express. Ed’s Run, Hibernation, and Hell Roaring are all good intermediate runs that are cut wide and a consistent pitch to make sure you have space to get used to skiing.

Intermediates

Typical busy day on Moementum at Whitefish Mountain Resort

Typical busy day on Moementum at Whitefish Mountain Resort

This mountain caters to intermediates besides the main runs such as Big Ravine, Toni Matt, and Bench Run if it snows, which is often, it might be time to try a black diamond such as Ptarmigan Bowl or Big Face. There are some trees and ungroomed, but the pitch is about as steep as Toni Matt.  If you feel like getting your racing spirit going be sure to check out Moe-Mentum named after the famous Olympic Gold medalist who grew up racing down these same trails as a kid.

Experts

Hell Roaring... where the fun begins

Hell Roaring… where the fun begins

Even though most of the mountain has fun terrain catering to the beginner or upper intermediate if you need to look for more steeps and challenge head over to Hell Roaring Basin. Make sure to “straight it” if you want to make it over to that part of the mountain since the cat track is flat and you will most likely have to skate over to that part of that mountain. As you finally make it into Hell-Roaring the crowds disappear, the wind suddenly dies down as snow flakes fall lightly in front you as if you were in a movie. As you look down the fall line from the cat track your breath begins to quicken as what lays in front of you is unknown…an ungroomed paradise filled with tight trees. As you begin to make your first turn you begin to understand why this is called Hell Roaring Basin. You begin to roar with excitement jumping from turn to turn being very aware of the tree wells. Since this is an ungroomed area I would suggest riding with a partner and starting with Glory Hole followed by Gray’s Golf Course.

The view from the top of Gray's Golf Course.

The view from the top of Gray’s Golf Course.

Most of the terrain starts open with well spaced trees on top and gets tighter the further down you go. To head over to Gray’s Golf Course follow the cat track past the picture chutes until Hell Fire makes a sweeping right turn. Once you drop into the trees if you are on Gray’s Golf Course keep slowly going rider’s left following the tight tree line until you pick up Glory Hole towards the bottom. Don’t worry if you do keep going down you will hit Hell Fire Cat Track which loops around all of the terrain at Hell Roaring Basin and drops you off at Hell Roaring triple. Be sure to keep your speed on Hell Fire though it is a looooong cat track. As you make it to the bottom of Hell Roaring Basin you slap high fives with your friends. As you take the leisurely chairlift you smile and realize that this is a very special place.

 

In the next few weeks we will venture further into the history of Whitefish as well as what are the things you can do for Apres in Whitefish… Keep posted!!!

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