A new detachable quad will soon join the lift fleet at Whitefish Mountain Resort, although the exact timeline is uncertain. The Chair 4 Express (name TBD) will be the first detachable lift servicing the mountain’s new day lodge, where nearly 70 percent of Whitefish skiers now start their day. The big lift will replace Great Northern, a Stadeli triple which opened in 1978 but loads higher than the replacement. The top terminal will be very close to where the old Chair 5 unloaded.
The new lift will open a half hour earlier than the workhorse Big Mountain Express and relieve pressure from the Base Lodge and Bad Rock beginner lifts. Hourly capacity will be 2,200 skiers, more than double Chair 4 on the rare occasions it is open. A number of trails will be re-graded to converge at the new load point. “When people stand at the current carpet lift and look up the mountain when this project is done it will look very different from how it looks today,” says Whitefish.
The resort did not release a timeline or manufacturer although planning is well underway. Whitefish is already seeking Forest Service approval for its Hellroaring Basin improvement project, which includes two new lifts. If approved, all three new lifts will be well worth the wait on an already great Big Mountain.
Given the lineup of their other high speed quads, the Great Northern Express is most likely to be a Doppelmayr.
This is a great plan. The current triple is such a useless lift and it shows with the fact that it rarely runs. The new high speed quad might actually see higher ridership than the Big Mountain Express because it will serve more terrain directly. It will also reduce cross trail traffic with fewer people traversing back to the Big Mountain Express. There will be a used lift to move to the Hellroaring expansion.
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Two updates from Whitefish Mountain Resort: The old lift won’t be reused this time and the new lift’s name is still TBD.
This lift would be a great improvement. If the location of the top terminal is where the old 5 was, it’s possible to access nearly all the runs that lift 1 accesses. Getting to the restaurant or getting to the black bear run requires some uphill poling/walking but the rest are accessible.
Agree. If you can access Toni Matt, Inspiration and ultimately East Rim Chair from the top, Ch 4 becomes a really important lift to get people out of the base while also providing a robust back up for if/when Ch 1 is closed.
The only things that Great Northern Express wouldn’t be able to get to directly would arguably be the backside lifts and their trails. But that’d be rectified by taking No Name down to the East Rim lift.
I remember when the old Chair 1, Going to the Sun double was replaced by the Glacier Chaser HSQ. Prior to that, Chairs 4 and 5 were heavily used. When the first quad opened for the 89-90 season, skiers more or less abandoned the east side of the mountain even though traversing back to the quad was still quicker than taking Chair 4. The traverse seems to really turn people off. The Chair 4 realignment will cut down but not eliminate the traverse so it will be interesting to see if skiers return to the east side which offers some of the better terrain.
Wonder if there are plans to add some terrain below Expressway closer to Three Stooges? Congestion will likely become an issue on Expressway. It would also be great if the Russ’s Street cat track could be eliminated as it interrupts many of the runs and may no longer be required if getting out of the base lodge becomes easier.
This lift would have a horizontal length of about 7,300 feet, or 1.39 miles.