It was a season for the record books on Big Mountain.
This week, Whitefish Mountain Resort announced there were more than 346,000 skier visits during the 2016-2017 season, approximately 1,000 more than the previous record set during the 2013-2014 season. The record visitation was likely buoyed by 407 inches of snow on the mountain, the second deepest snowpack in 20 years.
Of the 124 days the resort was open to skiers, it snowed on 69 of them. The resort accumulated 46 inches of snow in November; 98 inches in December; 37 inches in January; 115 inches in February; 102 inches in March; and 9 inches in April, including 6 inches for closing day on April 9.
While the lifts stopped running this week, officials at the resort had little time to catch their breath as they embark on more than $2.6 million worth of capital improvements this year. In January, the resort announced that it was moving the long-unused Chair 5 from Ptarmigan Bowl to the East Rim, and in March, it announced that it had reached an agreement with the owners of the Bierstube to renovate the popular après ski bar.
Last week, the resort announced that it would be renovating one of its Upper Village restaurants, Ed & Mully’s. CEO Dan Graves said the renovations across the mountain would help celebrate the resort’s 70th anniversary. All of the improvements are expected to be completed before the 2017-2018 season.
“This (Ed & Mully’s) project, along with the Bierstube’s renovation project, will create a more modern feel for the village as we enter into our eighth decade as a ski resort,” Graves said. “With the village improvements and the relocation of Chair 5, we continue to enhance the experience for our guests.”
The new Ed & Mully’s will feature a more modern exterior and better access from the Upper Village and slopes. Additionally, a new S.N.O.W. Bus shelter will be built nearby.
While the Upper Village renovations are expected to begin in the coming weeks, work on moving Chair 5 is already underway. The chairs were recently removed and workers are preparing to rebuild the electric motors, braking systems and hydraulic tension systems.
While parts of the resort undergo renovations this summer, the mountain will still be open for zip line tours, mountain biking and scenic lift rides on Chair 1 to the summit. Whitefish Mountain Resort’s summer season traditionally runs from June to September. For more information, visit www.skiwhitefish.com.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of skier visits to Whitefish Mountain Resort during the 2017/2018 season.