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Ski Season Set to Launch on Big Mountain
Whitefish Mountain Resort slated to open with solid snowpack, Blacktail and Turner not far behind
Photo courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort
Tune up the skis and wax the boards: ski season is officially here.

Whitefish Mountain Resort opens this weekend with a solid base that benefited from early winter snowfall and cold temperatures.

The largest ski area in Western Montana appears destined for a full-blown opening on Saturday morning, Dec. 7. Chair 2 is slated to begin running at 9 a.m. and Chair 1, the Big Mountain Express, roars to life at 9:30 a.m.

As of Monday morning before the latest winter storm hit, 54 inches were piled atop the summit, roughly the same as last year’s opening day, but 18 inches were settled at the village, which is 11 inches more than last year.

“With the snow that’s in the forecast and certainly the temperatures that are forecasted, things are looking really good for getting top to bottom skiing,” resort spokesperson Riley Polumbus said on Monday.

Be sure to layer up with warm gear as the National Weather Service released a winter storm warning for the Flathead and Mission valleys this week, forecasting single digit temperatures in the valley and potentially subzero temps at higher elevations. Saturday is forecasted to be sunny but only nine degrees during the day.

Off U.S. Highway 93 in Lakeside, snow continues to pile up at Blacktail Mountain as the ski area gears up to open for its 16th winter. Blacktail consistently opens the first or second weekend of December. The mountain is open Wednesdays through Sundays, and all week near Christmas, Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day.

The ski area is hosting its annual Old Man Winter Party at The Rack Shack on Dec. 7. Show up, enjoy the festivities and get your season pass picture taken.

Turner Mountain near Libby still needs some more snow before opening. The ski area is hosting a fun night on Dec. 7 at the Red Dog, with drinks starting at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. There are door prizes, auction, movies and more. Turner Mountain, established 22 miles outside of Libby in 1961, is open Fridays through Sundays, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., and all week around the holidays. Private parties can rent out the entire mountain Mondays through Thursdays.

For those ski enthusiasts who prefer the backcountry, be sure and follow the Flathead Avalanche Center website for updates and information about avalanche conditions and advisories.

The Forest Service is offering another round of free introductory avalanche courses this winter. The first event includes two classroom sessions, Dec. 18 and Dec. 19, and a field session Dec. 21. The second round is Jan. 22 and Jan. 23 in the classroom and Jan. 25 in the field. The sessions will focus on basic information and knowledge about avalanches, statistics, terrain and terminology to stay safe while recreating in the backcountry.

For more information, contact Seth Carbonari at 387-3832 or scarbonari@fs.fed.us, or visit flatheadavalanche.org.

The Big Mountain Ski Patrol is also holding avalanche courses. The level 1 courses are Jan. 31-Feb. 2, and Feb. 21-23. The level 2 courses are Feb. 27-March 2.

Scholarships are available for those interested in attending. For more information, visit bigmountainskipatrol.org.
 
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