With strong visitation and record season pass sales, Whitefish Mountain Resort today announced major lift projects for each of the next two summers. The big news is a deal with Leitner-Poma for a six place lift replacing Chair 4. The 1978 Stadeli triple had a great run but boosting out-of-base capacity and relieving pressure from the Big Mountain Express became top priorities for the resort. The new flagship will lift guests from the base lodge to Inspiration Ridge along a 5,700 foot alignment. Rising 2,200 vertical feet in less than seven minutes, it will be the largest lift investment in resort history and the first Leitner-Poma installation in the state of Montana. Preliminary work will begin this summer with completion scheduled for late 2022.
This summer, Leitner-Poma subsidiary Skytrac will complete the planned move of Chair 8 to higher elevation terrain in Hellroaring Basin. This will allow the basin to open earlier in the season and create a new pod of defined runs.
Another planned project already approved by the Forest Service is a third new lift to Hellroaring Peak. The timeline for that one has not yet been determined.
“I think it is important for passholders to know that the resort continues to reinvest into its infrastructure each year providing more value to the season pass,” said Dan Graves, Chief Executive Officer for Whitefish. “These are truly exciting times at Whitefish Mountain Resort.”
I love the smell of new lift announcements in the spring.
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Getting ready for more guests due to a pending IKON announcement?? Who knows, but Rusty from Alterra did guarantee some new partnerships this year in a podcast just a few weeks ago.
Anyone here on the blog have any insider info??
The alignment is actually around 7500 feet based on google earth. This is going to be the main out of base lift and there’s a lot of terrain off of it, so hopefully it has a high capacity. Also, the ride time being under 7 minutes means a top speed of 1100 fpm.
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They are talking about a 5700’ alignment, not your 7500’. Don’t count on 1100 fpm.
I plotted out the exact alignment they show in Google Earth, and it’s about 7500 feet long. To get a ride time under 7 minutes with that length, the speed has to be 1100 fpm.
A lift like this is likely going to have a 3,000 pph capacity, which would translate to having around 120 or so chairs. (Big Mountain Express has a 2,800 pph capacity, for comparison)
This is great news for Whitefish!
I wonder if they will remove the Bad Rock lift to make room for the new six-pack. It doesn’t seem particularly necessary and that base area already has two additional lifts (Base Lodge and Easy Rider) for novice skiers. Whitefish could potentially relocate Bad Rock to replace one of the T-Bars since it is about the right length.
Bad Rock will be staying, with the six pack’s line running adjacent to it.
The summer zip line uses the Bad Rock lift. I agree that it will get in the way once the 6 pack arrives.
WMR will also need considerable terrain modification to separate heavy 6 pack traffic from the beginner areas. Hopefully, the resort will also rethink some of the traverses that cut up the terrain on the lower east side of the mountain. As a kid, Chair 4 was my favorite part of the mountain. Once Chair 1 went HSQ in 1989, few skiers ventured to the east side, probably turned off by the long traverses. Chair 4 originally extended to the top of Inspiration ridge. It was shortened some time in the early 90’s.
While I look forward to the 6 pack, I can’t feel somewhat disappointed that the second lift in Hellroaring isn’t ahead in priority. That lift will open up terrain that is currently only hike too and too forested to really enjoy.
Where will WMR priorities be after build out of the 6 pack and second Hellroaring lift? At one time, there was a map showing two relatively short lifts on the mountain opposite the Big Creek and Flower Point lifts. One of the earlier iterations of Flower Point had it extending lower down into the drainage, presumably providing access to these two new lifts. I’m unsure if this terrain could be accessed without short extensions to either Big Creek or Flower Point. The terrain itself looks relatively appealing, although cut up by old logging roads. The exposure seems to be south to southeast, while not ideal, would be somewhat sheltered. The terrain off the backside of Hellroaring Peak could be another candidate for expansion.
I’m guessing the reason the six pack isn’t being built all the way to the Summit House, and instead stopping just short of it by ending where Chair 5 ended, is due to space constraints at the Summit House. It’ll be a minor inconvenience that people starting out of the Base Lodge will have to ski down to the village then ride the Big Mountain Express if they’re headed to the North Side trails, but not that much.
Those folks can ride either Bad Rock or Chair 8 and be at Chair 1 in just a few minutes.
Benefits of the lower end point are the new lift will open 30 minutes earlier and hopefully be less wind affected.
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Could also take new chair 4, ski down to chair 5 or the Bigfoot T-bar to access the backside, or into Hellroaring to the relocated chair 8 and future chair 12.
Besides reducing wind closure, the other advantage of lift 4 not reaching the summit is to keep traffic off the already overloaded upper Russ’s Street (aka Ant Hill), and pushing more skiers to use the east side of the mountain.
My questions is whether WMR will do any trail work/grading to better facilitate access from the top of Ch 4 to the East Side/Ch 5 area. If that direct connection is accessible only to advanced skiers/riders, it will limit the utility of that lift in spreading out the crowds.
I don’t have any insider info but I would be shocked if they didn’t find a blue run way to get from the top of new lift 4 to the top of lift 5. Such a road would bypass the ant hill (desirable to avoid for most blue skiers) while still allowing access to the backside (via whitetail) and all front side blues. This new lift will be a great improvement.
Wishful thinking and they are never going to, but I would have loved to have seen a midstation on the new chair 4. Big Face is my favourite run on the mountain, and since chair 5 was relocated, you now need to ski to the village if you want to ski it.