A ski resort in Whitefish is proposing sweeping changes to ski runs and chairlifts in one of its basins. Those changes are currently subject to public comment.
Whitefish Mountain Resort recently released a proposal to add a new chairlift, move an existing chairlift and create eight new cleared and seven gladed runs in Hellroaring Basin.
The resort has a special use permit from the Flathead National Forest and needs approval from the Forest to move forward with the project, which would not alter the resort’s existing permit area.
Riley Polumbus is a spokesperson for Whitefish Mountain Resort.
"It is still the early stage, but it's also the first step in a direction that could be very exciting for everyone who skies at this resort."
Polumbus says the changes would allow the resort to open Hellroaring Basin earlier in the season, add a safer route for evacuations out of the basin and spread skiers and snowboarders more evenly across the resort.
The Basin would still close April 1 to protect grizzly bear habitat.
A new chair would access Hellroaring Peak, which currently can only be reached by foot, and add intermediate trails in a basin dominated by advanced and expert terrain.
"It just improves the overall variety of terrain in the basin," Polumbus says. "So it would make it more accessible to more skiers and snowboarders."
The proposal also calls for adding new service roads for faster winter emergency egress and summer maintenance.
Many of the exact locations, details and timing of the proposed changes are yet to be determined. An environmental analysis is forthcoming.
This is the second chairlift move Whitefish Mountain Resort has proposed in the past few years. The resort’s decision to move Chair 5 last year drew both support and criticism from visitors and locals.
The Flathead National Forest says specific, written comments on the proposal received by November 20, 2018 would be most helpful in project development. Comments may be submitted to also be sent to comments firstname.lastname@example.org or to Tally Lake Ranger District, Attn: Hellroaring Basin Improvements Project; 650 Wolfpack Way; Kalispell, MT 59901.
The District also welcomes requests to be added to the project’s mailing list in order to be notified of additional public comment opportunities. To do so, please provide your contact information (preferably email address) to email@example.com. Project information and documents are available online.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Whitefish Mountain Resort leases land from the Flathead National Forest. The Resort has a special use permit, not a lease.