Whitefish Mountain Resort announced Jan. 13 its plans to relocate Chair 5 from Ptarmigan Bowl to the East Rim.
The chairlift will be moved in the offseason and will be operational by the 2017-18 season, according to the resort.
Ski resort officials said moving the chairlift will improve skier access to intermediate and advanced terrain and offer skiers an alternative way to access north side terrain while taking pressure off the resort’s Chair 1. It will also reduce traffic on the upper section of Russ’s Street known as the Ant Hill, mitigating the long traverse from the east side terrain along Russ’s Street back to Chair 1, and improve skier flow at the resort.
Work on the $1.2 million project is expected to begin this April. The relocation marks the latest investment in the resort, including the new Flower Point chairlift in 2014 and renovation of the Summit House.
“We are pleased to continue what has been a decade of steady improvements at Whitefish Mountain Resort with the reposition of Chair 5 to better utilize our lift infrastructure and improve the guest experience as we celebrate our 70th anniversary,” Whitefish Mountain Resort CEO Dan Graves said.
“The East Rim Chair will create a stand-alone pod of skiing in the North Bowl and East Rim areas where our guests can take advantage of early and late season ski conditions found on the upper mountain. The lift’s new location also will spread skiers out across the resort alleviating congestion on Russ’s Street including the upper section commonly called the Ant Hill.”
The bottom terminal of Chair 5 will be located near the intersection of Russ’s Street and Moe-Mentum ski runs. The top terminal will be located on the “knob” just west of Don’s Descent on the East Rim allowing skiers to access the East Rim, North Bowl as well as North Side Chairs 7 and 11 and T-Bar 2.
Resort officials say this location will provide improved lift service to ski terrain that is under-utilized and also provide a variety of options from the unloading terminal to other lifts, such as Chair 7, the Flower Point Chair, and T-bar 2. The chairlift will operate daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Several upgrades to Chair 5 will be made in the move, including a new electric motor, new drive, new braking system, new hydraulic tension system, a re-build of the gear box and restraining bars for chairs.
The process could begin as early as April with the removal of chairs. The resort will maintain a storage facility and radio towers at the current Chair 5 top terminal site.
Chair 5, a CTEC fixed-grip triple, was first installed in 1981 at the cost of $500,000. Officially named “Glacier View” and also dubbed the “High Five” lift, it added access to the summit which was then served only by the original Chair 1, a fixed-grip double which at the time was a 15-minute ride.
As the ski area added chairlifts and terrain on the North Side and Hellroaring Basin, ridership on Chair 5 has diminished, according to the resort. The chair has not operated regularly since the 1990s when Chair 1 was replaced with a high-speed quad and has not operated at all since the 2014/15 season.
In 1997, Chair 7 was replaced with a high-speed quad and the original Chair 7 was moved to Hellroaring Basin when it opened and became Chair 8. In 2007, Chair 1 was moved to Chair 2, upgrading the double chair to a high-speed quad.
Tentative Lift Stats:
Lift Name: Chair 5 “East Rim”
Lift Manufacturer: CTEC
Lift Type: Fixed-grip triple
Horizontal Length: 2,540 feet
Vertical Rise: 814 feet
Uphill Capacity: 1,600 people per hour
Number of Chairs: 110
Number of Towers: 14
Project Start Date: April 2017
Anticipated Completion Date: December 2017
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