Whitefish Mountain Resort begins 70th anniversary season


KALISPELL, Mont. - Skiers and snowboarders lined up early on opening day at Whitefish Mountain Resort to be the first to take on the mountain.

The day was cut short with chairlift 1 ending downloading at 2:30 p.m., but 1,565 skiers came out for the big day.

Whitefish resident Nick Davis was among them. He told NBC Montana he moved to Whitefish about four years ago for the snowboarding.

"I've waited like eight months for this, getting all the gear ready. I'm super stoked. We need a bit more snow, but we've got the sun coming out," said Davis.

Opening day also meant skiers got to take the first ride up chair 5 at its new location on the east side. Lakeside resident and season pass holder Don Wood was one of the three people invited to take the first ride.

"I was definitely stoked," said Wood.

This was not the first time he rode chair 5; he was the first to ride it when it first opened in 1981.

"It was luck the first time, and I was invited the second time, and I appreciate that. It was quite an honor to do," said Wood.

Another skier invited was executive director of the Flathead Valley Ski Association Tim Hinderman. He has been skiing at Big Mountain since he 1955. He told NBC Montana the mountain has grown gradually over the years and was honored to get the invite for another step in its growth.

"It's fun to be part of the changes and the evolution of the mountain, so it was just a neat opportunity to see it happen, you know, it was the first day, and there's no other first day," said Hinderman.

The new location of chair 5 gives skiers alternative access to north side terrain. The lift helped give more access to trails Thursday when the snow conditions were not the best.

Even though the runs were limited it did not stop skiers from getting out to the mountain.

"It's like Christmas Day when you were a kid. This is what we do all winter, and no matter what kind of opening day it is, it's like a holiday up here," said Whitefish Mountain Resort public relations manager Riley Polumbus.

The mountain will open with limited terrain again Friday. Polumbus said she hopes that by the weekend they will be able to have more of the mountain open.

You can click here for the snow report.

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