Resort opens with limited terrain

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A group of skiers and snowboarders ride down the Whitetail slope at Whitefish Mountain Resort in this file photo. (Matt Baldwin/Whitefish Pilot)

While there isn’t much snow on the ground downtown, Whitefish Mountain Resort has enough powder to open for the season tomorrow.

The resort will open at the top of the mountain with limited open terrain on the north and east sides. Chairs 1, 5, 7, 11 and T-Bar 2 will all be active, and skiers will be permitted to download on Chair 1 as well.

Chair 1 will begin running at 9:30 a.m., while all other lifts will start at 10 a.m.

As of presstime, Whitefish Mountain Resort spokesperson Riley Polumbus said it is possible that Chair 6 will open to take skiers up to Chair 1 and the Lift Plaza, but that has not yet been determined. Whether full services will be available at the Base Lodge is also still unknown.

More snow is needed on the lower mountain for additional runs and beginning terrain to open.

“We’re working to get lower mountain terrain open as soon as we can, but right now it’s too early to tell,” Polumbus said.

“It’s all going to depend on what kind of snow we can make, the same goes with all the other runs. We’re just not quite there yet in terms of the base set for a lot of the front side.”

All services at the Summit House will be open tomorrow.

There will also be a short ceremony to celebrate Chair 5’s reincarnation on the East Rim. Those wanting to join the celebration should meet at Chair 5 just before 10 a.m. to inaugurate the first day in its new home.

The following Thursday, Dec. 14 — the anniversary of the very first Opening Day in 1947 — WMR will celebrate three men who played a key role in the founding of the skiing on Big Mountain: Lloyd “Mully” Muldown, Ed Schenck and George Prentice. Schenck and Prentice are the two co-founders of Winter Sports Incorporated, and Muldown is the “father of skiing in Whitefish.” He was one of the first to ski here, taught many others how to ski and helped convince Schenck and Prentice that this “Big Mountain” had great potential.

The Founders’ Celebration will take place in the Lift Plaza at 10 a.m.

This season follows a historic season last year on the mountain, with new records for total visits at 345,000 and passholder visits at 147,000, as well as a total of 407 inches of snowfall, the second most in the last 20 years.

Weather forecasters earlier this year predicted La Niña potentially emerging for a second year in a row, meaning above average precipitation and below-average temperatures in the northern United States this winter.

However, abnormally strong high pressure in the western United States will likely mean no new snow through mid-December, reported the National Weather Service in Missoula.

Polumbus said while the forecast doesn’t look ideal for opening up more areas of the mountain in the coming days, workers are doing all they can to get more snow on the ground.

“We’re looking at cold temps, but unfortunately not a lot of precipitation in the forecast,” Polumbus said. “We’ll be doing our best to try to make snow but that’s totally dependent on temps and humidity.”

“Everyone should do their snow dances to bring us some snow.”

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