Whitefish Resort Adding Zip Line, Alpine Slide

By Beacon Staff

Whitefish Mountain Resort is beefing up its offerings this summer with the addition of a zip line tour and alpine slide – two activities that should go a long way toward satiating the cravings of anyone looking to cruise fast and high on Big Mountain now that the weather has turned warm.

According to Public Relations Manager Donnie Clapp, resort executives have been visiting other mountain resorts over the last year in an attempt to poach some ideas that would relieve some of the burden on the ski season to sustain their year-round operations – and draw some of the tourists in the valley visiting Glacier Park.

“If we can interest just a half a percentage point of those people to come up and zip, then we can really put a dent in our summer numbers, financially,” Clapp said.

After witnessing the success of the zip line and alpine slide at Grouse Mountain resort, outside Vancouver, resort president Dan Graves decided those facilities could work in the Flathead as well. As of last week, workers had about a third of the alpine slide track, which runs beneath Chair 6, completed and were basically testing and adding finishing touches to the zip line tour.

The zip line tour, consisting of about four spans, will take about two hours to complete, including orientation. Two cables will run parallel, so friends can scream at each other while speeding from one tower to another. And with some of the cables spanning distances of a quarter-mile, suspended more than 100 feet off the ground, Clapp claims thrill-seekers will not be disappointed.

In fact, one particularly long and steep span has the resort wondering whether it will need to attach small parachutes for drag to the rear of riders’ harnesses in order to keep their speed under control.

Once the summer tourist season is in full-swing, zip line tours will be offered from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for $59. But between June 13, when the resort hopes to have the zip line operational, and June 27, tours will cost $29, giving locals first crack.

“We’d like to give everybody that lives here in the valley a chance to try these things out,” Clapp said. “And we’re really interested in feedback too.”

Rates for the alpine slide, which will switchback through the trees, allowing riders to go as fast as they like on a plastic wheeled sled with a handbrake, will be $8 per ride, or $20 for three rides. But prior to June 27, rides will be discounted at $5 each. The resort will also offer a coupon book to season pass holders offering other discounts on summer activities.

In addition to the two new attractions, the Flathead Fat Tires mountain bike group has received a grant to rework and improve the Summit cycling trail, which Clapp said would add “a lot more rhythm and flow” to it, replacing some of the less interesting switchbacks, though that work won’t be completed until the fall. A new downhill mountain bike race, called “The Grizzly” is scheduled for August 8, and the “Early Bird” cross country bike race will be June 27. The Thursday Night Race League and Mountain Bike Academy are on as well.

The resort is also continuing its traditional summer offerings, with its summit chairlift rides beginning June 27, the Walk in the Treetops and the Brewfest party on August 29. Whitefish Resort is expanding its summer hours also, staying open seven days a week through Sept. 6, then weekends through Sept. 27.

“The summer’s going to be pretty awesome up here,” Clapp said.