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Trip Report - Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana

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Whitefish Mountain Resort sits just a few miles from the town of Whitefish in northwestern Montana.

While most people think of the snowpack in Montana as being similar to Wyoming and Colorado in the high Rockies, the reality of northwest Montana is that the snow more closely resembles that of British Columbia since the Pacific Ocean isn't that far away (relatively speaking). In theory, this means that the snow at Whitefish should be spongy (not too light, not too heavy), cover the rocks and allow us to enjoy the steeps.

My best friend's family lives in Whitefish, and I've been kicking myself for not visiting sooner. The best part of knowing locals is that we had experienced tour guides to show us the mountain. 

Steeps

While there are parts of the mountain where you can cruise on more mellow terrain, my friend's family immediately directed us to the steeper, playful lines.

True to form for Pacific Northwest snow quality, the steeps were filled and seemed endless.

Looking down a run, it's hard to see the pitch.

Looking back up the same run, you can now get a better sense of the playfulness of the terrain, and the pitch.

Since pictures do not adequately show the angle of a run, I used the "Tiltmeter" app on my iPhone to take a quick measurement. The entire run was not this steep, but there was a nice section right around 50 degrees. If you're unfamiliar with how that rates ... it's very steep, and with grippy snow, quite fun in a challenging way.

The view

I heard that the view from the summit of Whitefish is incredible, but I also heard that due to the moisture that moves toward Whitefish from the Pacific Ocean, a blanket of fog and low clouds often obscures the view.

On the day that we visited, the clouds won (for most of the time...more on that below). This was our view from the Summit House lodge.

What you can see in that picture is fun-looking terrain.

What you can't see is the view.

Kindly, my friend's family shared a picture, taken about 15 years ago, that showed what the view actually looks like when the clouds clear.

Not only is that an impressive mustache, but it's also an impressive view of Glacier National Park!

Fifteen years late, the same trio shown in the photo were our tour guides for the day. The littlest of the three, on the right, developed quite a fascination with getting airborne, as he showed us during one run:

You can ski Whitefish and not get airborne of course, but if you're looking to test yourself, there are plenty of features to choose from.

The clouds cleared

After we skied for most of the day and enjoyed a late lunch at the Summit House, the atmosphere cooperated, the clouds lifted a bit, and we were treated to a view.

Looking south.

And below is the view from the base, looking back to the summit. What you can see, including the delightful tree runs, is only the front side of the mountain. There is much, much more terrain beyond what is shown here.

More

While skiing a new mountain can induce some uncertainty – where do we go? what runs are best? – the enjoyment of exploring, learning, and making decisions can't be beat.

The only knock I've heard against Whitefish is that there are a lot of clouds and fog. The weather pattern here is very similar to the Pacific Northwest, so this makes sense. The clouds and fog can make visibility difficult, which we experienced a few times. That said, skiing is about reading nature and figuring out how to manage any difficulties that the weather or terrain throw at you, so I view the fog as an inconvenience rather than a deal breaker.

Additional information:

Weather Forecast for Whitefish Mountain Resort: https://opensnow.com/location/whitefishmountain

Their website: http://skiwhitefish.com/

Full Disclosure – My group received free one-day lift tickets in exchange for this review. I do my best to present my experience in an honest and transparent way.

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Keep dreaming of future powder days!

JOEL GRATZ

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