Skiers got just what they wanted for Christmas. Snow. Gobs of it.
With 30 inches dumping last week and six inches of powder greeting Christmas Eve skiers, snow piled up enough to bump open the local ski areas – alpine and Nordic alike. At the same time, heavy snowfall turned the backcountry into an avalanche pinball arena.
After continued snowfall, Whitefish Mountain Resort ski patrol threw open most of the resort, including Hellroaring Basin. “We saw the biggest avalanches we’ve ever seen when bombing to get the west bowl open,” said ski patroller Jay Burrell. Those same conditions skyrocketed the danger of skiing out-of-bounds where the patrol does not control avalanches. Last week, in two separate incidents, self-set avalanches caught two snowmobilers in Canyon Creek right behind the resort.
The snowfall was also enough to open local Nordic ski areas. Whitefish Mountain Resort opened their Nordic course, and Round Meadows operated by the U.S.F.S. has been groomed.
The cross-country trails at the Whitefish Golf Course just opened Christmas Eve morning. Glacier Nordic Club groomers hit the course before sunup to roll the track. “It looks creamy and soft,” said Laura Nugent, owner of the Outback Ski Shack, as she headed out for a spin on skate skis.
With 3-4 inches of new fluff at Stillwater Mountain Lodge, most of the Nordic ski trails are now open. Owner Tom Healy, who finished rolling the trails early this morning, reported that conditions are excellent on some of the trails – particularly the Murray Mile. This year, the ski area has a new equipment rental program, and they offer free skiing and rentals all year long for anyone 12 and under.
Need to check the conditions?
Whitefish Mountain Resort: 862-SNOW
Glacier Nordic Center (Whitefish Golf Course): 862-9498
Stillwater Mountain Lodge: 862-7004
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