Whitefish, MT, Mar. 1-2, 2021

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the western US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

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Whitefish, MT, Mar. 1-2, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 05, 2021 12:36 am

Whitefish deserves kudos for its candid morning snow reports. Here’s what I read when I woke up Monday.
6:00 AM report wrote:Good Morning Skiers and Snowboarders! Today is March 1st and welcome to the Whitefish Snow Report. The primary weather starting yesterday afternoon, and continuing now, is a hard rime. It is a freezing mist that is creating a layer of white frost mountain wide. The forecast is calling for the clouds to steadily move out today, with partly sunny skies moving in. Visibility will improve with the clear out and the high temperature will be near 27 degrees. It is a typical "you need to be prepared for all kinds of weather" day.

Liz chose the right day to take a break. She dropped me at the mountain about 9:45AM. I had neglected to read further updates:

7:40 AM report wrote:Chair 1 is going to be delayed opening this morning due to a thick layer of rime ice. Mechanics are clearing the rime chair by chair. It is impossible to put a time frame on it at this time, we will keep you updated on our progress.

8:40 AM report wrote:Chair 2 along with 3, 6, and 9 are going to open at 9:00 as scheduled. Chair 1 is going to be delayed and it is our priority. Chair 7 will have to be de rimed next. Still no time frame, stay posted.

9:40 AM report wrote:We still really can’t say how long it will take to get chair 1 open, but at least another hour or two before opening. There is rime and black ice on every chair that needs to be removed. Lower mountain is all rolling. The skiing is variable, stick to groomers.

By 10:15 I had chatted with the chair 1 lifties who thought it would be at least noon, so I had Liz pick me up. I could work on my month end snow report until chair 1 opened. Here’s the view of the idled chair 1 at center.

The considerable crowd at lower right is waiting for chair 2, the only non beginner lift open until chair 1 is de-rimed.

12:00 PM report wrote:Chair 1 is about to open. The snow today is a rime ice crust. The conditions demand careful skiing on groomed trails only. Off trail is not recommended. Like not even a little bit, stay on groomed runs. Terrain lower on the mountain is warming up and skiing better than higher up. Some areas of the mountain may be closed today, please respect the rope.

12:30 PM report wrote:We are closing most of the front side. Groomed runs are extremely firm today, it is hard to even stop. Ski carefully and only ski open terrain. Russ’ Street is the route that will be open to the bottom.

I returned to the mountain at 1PM and first took a run on chair 2 while the initial rush to chair 1 cleared. I then rode 1, with this typical view illustrating Whitefish’s nicely spaced trees, ideal in powder on my previous visits though not today.

I skied Gray Wolf to backside chair 7, then skied Moementum and Russ’ Street to the base.

At 2PM my day improved dramatically. First by sheer luck I shared a chair 1 ride with local resident Lono. I had showed him around Mammoth in April 2017 and he was eager to return the favor on his home hill.

More importantly the sun came out so the dire warnings of the noon reports were far more pessimistic than the reality. Most of the groomers softened rapidly and so opened shortly.

Lono first led me on Hell Fire. This view back shows how Connie’s Coolie has been thinned to allow more direct fall lines.

Former public relations manager Riley Polumbus led Liz and me in there in 2013.

At Grand Junction Lono pointed out this view of the future location of chair 8 out of Hellroaring Basin.

The current chair 8 tops out near the top of chair 2 but the future exit will be on the Toni Matt run just above the top of Big Ravine.

By the time we resumed skiing chair 1 groomers they were nicely softened so we tore them up. Lono favored steep drops into the afternoon sun like Heep Steep and upper Big Ravine. Here is Lono on a rare photo stop.

Panoramic view on Toni Matt:

I was just following so I can’t say everywhere we skied, but 18,600 vertical is quite impressive for a day that didn’t start until 1PM. In the parking lot Lono showed me a friend’s repurposed vehicle.

On Tuesday Liz and I met Lono at 10AM. Tuesday was heavy overcast all day. The overnight grooming was nearly all excellent, decent skiing right away and gradually softening over the day.

Lono led us to No Name, which drops steeply to the base of chair 5.

This relocated chair facilitates lapping its steep runs, including steep NE facing chutes like First Creek.

We skied to backside chair 11, also new since our 2013 visit. Ridge Run was the only groomer we skied Tuesday with rock hard frozen granular snow, hard to explain. Lono says if runs are groomed in late afternoon when soft but then freeze overnight with no later groom, this can be the result.

While the mountain was under cloud all day, the lakes had some sunny breaks. Here Flathead Lake is illuminated at distance.

This is the closer Whitefish Lake.

Lono lives on the far shore of Whitefish Lake and hosted us for an excellent shrimp dinner Monday night.

We skied Hogan’s, a chair 7 run and Big Ravine with Lono before he left at 1PM. On our own, Liz and skied one more each on Hellroaring and chair 7 plus several frontside groomers before departing for Missoula at 2:45. We skied 21,900 vertical.

Whitefish had the only adverse weather/conditions of our extended road trip. The mist/rime/crust was a bit anomalous because Whitefish has a higher base and has overall lower rain frequency than Schweitzer, Red Mt. and Fernie. During my first trip in 2003 I added an extra Whitefish day at Fernie’s expense due to rain effect at the latter.
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Tony Crocker
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Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
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