Uphill travel on Big Mountain closes due to lack of snow

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Big Mountain and Whitefish Lake as viewed from State Park. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

Whitefish Mountain Resort and the Flathead National Forest are temporarily closing the front side of Big Mountain to uphill skiing until more snow is received.

Officials on Thursday said the closure is due to concern for public safety as a result of low snowpack on the front side of the mountain. The closure will be effective as of 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, which is opening day for the resort.

The resort opens for the 2019-2020 season on Friday with limited terrain. The summit on Thursday had a settled base of 31 inches.

The resort expects to have Chair 1 open on Friday to take skiers to the summit, where they will be able to ski on the north side of Big Mountain.

Most of the mountainís front side terrain will be closed until it receives more snow, the resort said. 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 Moe Mentum and Russís Street.

With limited terrain available, 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, according to the resort.

The resort expects to asses conditions daily and uphill travel will resume as soon as trail and snow conditions allow.

The National Weather Service in Missoula is predicting a chance snow beginning today for the summit of Big Mountain with snow likely through the weekend. In the valley, a wintry mix of snow and freezing rain is expected through the weekend with highs predicted in the low to mid-30s.

The resort on Friday plans to have Chairs 1, , 3, 5, 6, 7, T-Bar 2 and the Big Easy Carpet open.

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

Chair 6 will open at 8:45 a.m., Chair 3 and the Big Easy Carpet open at 9 a.m., and Chair 1 will open for access to the north side of the mountain at 9:30 a.m.

The Chipmunk run will be open for beginners and provide guests a way back to the Base Lodge.

Chair 7 will open at 9:45 a.m. and open runs in the area include: Caribou, Goat Haunt, Silvertip and Whitetail. Bigfoot T-Bar 2 also will open at 9:45 a.m. with access to Lynx, Lodi Ridge and Trapperís Trail.

Chair 5 will open at 9:45 a.m. All terrain in the North Bowl, including Moe Mentum, and runs 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 will close at 3 p.m., Chair 5 will close at 3 p.m. and Chair 7 will close at 3:30 p.m. Chair 6 will close at 4:30 p.m.

Chair 3 will open at 9 a.m. and open runs include Hope Slope and several terrain park features in Central Avenue Railyard. Lower Ski Way will be open to access Chair 1.

Additional terrain may become available during the day or the weekend as determined by ski patrol.

For more information, visit www.skiwhitefish.com.

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