Commitment to Character
Not many ski areas can say they’ve been around for 70 years. We’ll go out on a limb and guess that zero ski areas have a weekly tradition dating back 60 years that involves a stuffed monkey.
We know we’re different, and we’re okay with that. Since 1947 it has always been about good times—from the early days when locals hiked up and explored the mountain through the last two seasons of 400+ inch snowfall.
In a world of merging resorts and passes for the masses, we are very content to remain blissfully independent in our corner of the world.
We believe in a commitment to character. We’re proud of all the colorful characters, past and present, and that easy-going, live in the moment feeling we love. We’ve made a commitment to keeping colorful traditions that have been here for decades—such as the weekly “Frabert Clod of the Week” given out by Ski Patrol at the Bierstube. Then there’s the wacky annual Winter Carnival held in February for nearly 60 years. We’re committed to preserving the places that have character while welcoming new opportunities to connect with friends and family.
Come meet some of the characters that make up our skiing and riding community and spend time exploring our mountain, our après scene, or town and surrounding communities. Experience our traditions on the mountain or in town.
Riley Polumbus, PR Manager
Commitment to Value
Ranked #2 for Value by SKI Magazine Readers in the 2020 Resort Guide
Whitefish Mountain Resort stands out as a resort that extends both top notch service and value to its guests. Independently owned and operated, Whitefish Mountain Resort offers a level of affordability unseen in the industry.
$83 = The walk-up, single Adult Lift Ticket price for one day of skiing*
$76 = The price per day per adult at the window for multiple days*
$85 = “Learn to Ski/Ride” package** includes 2 half-day lessons, 2 lower mountain lift tickets and 2 days of rentals
$95 = “Ski & Stay from $89” package** includes lift ticket, lodging and a hot breakfast at the Hibernation House
$7.50 = The Basic Burger (actual name for a basic burger with Cheddar cheese)
$1 = Beer special at the Great Northern Bar
$0 = Cost of kids 6 & under to ski the mountain every day
$0 = Cost of riding the S.N.O.W. (Shuttle Network of Whitefish) Bus between town & mountain
$0 = Cost of parking in 8 of the 11 parking lots on the mountain
*Buy online at skiwhitefish.com for more savings.
** Less than many of our competitors charge for a single-day lift ticket.
Free S.N.O.W. Bus
Getting from the mountain to downtown Whitefish is not only easy, it’s FREE! The Shuttle Network of Whitefish (S.N.O.W.) Bus provides free rides between the resort and town throughout the day and into the evening. There are 10 stops in the town of Whitefish and the bus drops off/picks up at both the Base Lodge and Mountain Village on the mountain.
The S.N.O.W. Bus is fully paid for by businesses that are members of the Big Mountain Commercial Association, a local non-profit organization, and through three annual fundraising events: Winter Spirit Festival held in January, featuring local distilleries as well as wine and beer tasting, as well as the Winter Brewfest held in March and the Summer Brewfest held in August which bring in regional breweries and cideries.
Commitment to Service
Ranked #4 for Service by SKI Magazine Readers in the 2020 Resort Guide
Whitefish Mountain Resort has long been known for its natural, easy atmosphere, personal service from its employees and the friendliness of its locals. In an industry where seasonal employment typically translates to a high turnover rate, Whitefish Mountain Resort maintains a high rate of return with its winter staff. More than half of our 500+ year round and winter employees have worked here at least five years, and a dozen have been here for 30 years or more. The resort actively encourages its employees to grow professionally within the company. Their institutional knowledge and experience at the resort enables employees to deliver a high level of customer service.
“Our employees are passionate about our industry and we have found that this passion is what keeps employees returning year after year. With so many years invested in our resort, they truly care, and go above and beyond. Because our employees participate and enjoy the same activities and experiences as our guests they are able to personally connect and provide our customers with an experience where personal service comes naturally.”
– Kristi Hanchett, Director of Human Resources
Commitment to Consistently Improving the Guest Experience
In 2007, while celebrating its 60th anniversary, the resort changed its name from Big Mountain to Whitefish Mountain Resort in honor of, and to better connect to, the community of Whitefish, Montana. The year also marked a new philosophy to consistently deliver quality products and services to its guests. This commitment to consistent reinvestment in the resort has resulted in more than a decade of improvements:
2007 New Base Lodge, Chair 1 and Chair 2 upgraded, Big Mountain Road re-graded and realigned.
2008 Added the first downhill only mountain bike trail.
2009 Installed the Alpine Slide and four zip lines.
2010 Added two more zip lines.
2011 Installed Bad Rock/Chair 10.
2012 Added the Aerial Adventure Park and seventh zip line.
2013 Expanded the Whitefish Bike Park with five new downhill only trails, added six new runs on the north side of the ski area, Phase 1 Base Lodge remodel: added 1,200 square feet of seating.
2014 Installed Flower Point/Chair 11 adding 200 acres of terrain to the north side of the mountain; Phase 2 Base Lodge remodel: enlarged kitchen and Café, added new Coffee Bar, added new room with additional seating.
2015 Phase 1 Summit House remodel: added a 1,600-square-foot mezzanine level, new restrooms on the main level, new exterior including new windows, siding, stonework, trim and lighting; constructed new two-story 800-square-foot Ski Patrol Headquarters; relocated and remodeled Village Rentals and Snow Ghost Outfitters.
2016 Phase 2 of Summit House remodel: expanded kitchen and café by 50 percent; expanded the Whitefish Bike Park adding three new trails and bike carriers for the Bad Rock lift.
2017 Added Strider Bike Park in the base area and one new expert trail in the Bad Rock Zone. Chair 5 relocated to the East Rim, Village upgrades include exterior remodels of Ed & Mully’s Bar & Grill (Phase 1), the Bierstube, and a new S.N.O.W. Bus shelter.
2018 Phase 2 of Ed & Mully’s remodel: complete interior remodel of restaurant, kitchen, and restrooms with new lighting, finishes, carpet, fireplace and bar. New summit panoramic “Roundshot Livecam”. New Boardwalk® Conveyor Lift, added Summer Tubing Activity. Started engineering and earthwork for additional alpine slide and redesign of existing alpine slide (to be completed for summer 2019).
2019 Re-designed the original Alpine Slide (built 2009) and added a second slide. Added two downhill trails to the Whitefish Bike Park: “Kansas” to the Bad Rock Zone and “ZZ Top” to the Overflow Zone. New LED parking lot status sign on Big Mountain Road, new LED lift status signs in the Lift Plaza, new snow stake webcam.
In the spring of 2019 Whitefish Mountain Resort submitted a proposal to the Flathead National Forest Tally Lake District for several improvements to Hellroaring Basin with the overall objective to make the area more accessible to more guests. The project’s scope of work includes relocating the Hellroaring Chairlift, re-grading sections of the Hell Fire run, cutting new runs, glading tree areas, adding a service road and cat track to better connect to other areas on the mountain and adding a new chairlift to Hellroaring Peak. A decision from the USFS is expected mid-winter 2020.
Also planned in the near future: The New Chair 4—High-Speed Express Lift from Base Lodge. No firm date, this project is still in the planning stages.
Commitment to Snow Quality
Here in the Northern Rockies, we receive a different type of snow than found in other areas. Our snow is drier than the Sierras, Cascades and the Northeast yet it’s not as dry as the snow that falls south of us in the Central and Southern Rockies. The snow we receive is both enjoyable to ski/ride in and is sustainable because it binds well to previous layers. This can make a 4-inch day ski more like a 6-inch day. It also guarantees that the snow quality is consistent throughout the season.
We are willing to share Mother Nature’s special Whitefish recipe for consistent snow conditions, however please note that several ingredients are only available locally:
Mix Pacific air flow with cold Canadian and continental air flow (read: lighter, drier snow than the Pacific Northwest) to produce an average of 300+ inches of snow annually.
Sprinkle cloud cover throughout the season to preserve snow (sun=melt) and keep surface temps more stable minimizing the freeze/thaw effect (this yields an average end-of-season summit base depth more than 100 inches).
Spread snow across 3,000 acres of terrain on every aspect (some aspects will keep snow longer than others).
Add skiers sparingly: Last year’s average skiers per day was an acre per person. On the busiest day, each acre was shared by fewer than three people.
Commitment to Powder for Days
The 5-year average for annual snowfall is 320 inches and two of the past five winters have seen more than 400 inches of snow
10-year average = 301 inches, 15-year average = 302 inches
Top 5 snow years in the last 22:
Top 5 snow months in the last 15 years:
January 2006…133 inches
January 2008…131 inches
February 2018…121 inches
February 2017…115 inches
December 2008…111 inches
Commitment to Character
Ranked #1 for Local Flavor and #4 for Charm by SKI Magazine Readers in the 2020 Resort Guide
Once named, “Canada’s Best Ski Bar” in a Calgary radio station poll, The Bierstube is Whitefish’s oldest après ski bar. Affectionately known as “The ‘Stube” the bar has greeted skiers at the bottom of the slopes of The Big Mountain since the ski area’s inception in 1947. Originally the bar was located upstairs in The Lodge, the bar was often tended by Big Mountain co-founder Ed Schenck himself. In 1966, Ed was approached by Jim and Joyce Black who proposed the idea to build a separate building for The Bierstube. In 1967 The Bierstube moved in to the building it still lives in today, and while several additions and renovations have incurred.
The building is owned by the resort however, the business is privately owned by Scott MacIntosh a relationship solidified by a mutually-desired long-term contract. In commitment to preserving the longevity of the legendary ski bar, the resort and MacIntosh have made some major investments in the building including building a new foundation, adding a new deck, new roof, windows, doors, siding. The new deck included a partially covered by a gable roof and outdoor bar.
In spite of the welcomed improvements, the interior of the bar still maintains its beloved character passionately influenced by five decades of patronage by local skiers and repeat visitors. Its walls, ceiling and rafters are covered with old photographs, retired ski area signs, and ski memorabilia and tables and benches are carved with the signatures of patrons of past eras. The building maintains an aura that conjures the mountain’s colorful history and the unique atmosphere of a classic Montana bar.
Frabert – Clod of the Week Award
Frabert is a three-foot tall stuffed monkey which, since at least the early 1960s, has lived behind the bar at the Bierstube as the ski patrol mascot. As one story goes, Jim Rice, Bierstube bartender and manager, came up with an idea to have a little fun and attract patrons into the bar on Wednesday nights. At the time, Sun Valley gave an award for the “Skier of the Day.” Rice thought it would be fun to award the “Clod of the Day” to an employee or visitor. According to Jean Arthur’s book, Hellroaring: Fifty Years on The Big Mountain, the Frabert Award was given out by ski patrol on a daily basis in the beginning, when everyone got together at the Bierstube after skiing. Regardless of its origin, the tradition has carried on for more than 50 years: every Wednesday people gather at the Bierstube where a ski patroller tells the story describing why the recipient is worthy of such an honor. The weekly event brings in locals and visitors alike to have a little fun.
The Chalet and Hellroaring Saloon
Hellroaring Saloon & Eatery is a classic ski bar and restaurant located in The Chalet, an iconic building located conspicuously on the slope next to Chair 2. Built in 1949 and originally called the Northern Rocky Chalet, The Chalet is the oldest building on the mountain. It provided lodging accommodations for 36 years in modest rooms with shared washrooms and three square meals a day served family style on what they called The American Plan.
Today’s patrons fill the tables and barstools daily for lunch, dinner and après. Hellroaring is most famous for their HUUUUUGE nachos. Regulars don their Hellroaring hat which earns them a second beer on the house. Patrons enjoy Hellroaring for its hospitable staff while soaking up the nostalgia of the photos, antiques skis and other relics on the walls—as well as the walls themselves—if only they could talk!
Women of Ski Patrol
Whitefish Mountain Resort, like many ski areas, has a talented and dedicated group of patrollers and staff who keep the mountain safe. All 30 of the employees who make up “patrol” are professionals who have a passion for helping others. It just so happens that many of them are women. While the national average of female patrollers is 20% Whitefish Mountain Resort is more than 40%.
This year the Whitefish Mountain Resort Ski Patrol will be led by a female administrative team with new Ski Patrol Manager Keagan Zoellner and returning Assistant Manager Kate Atha.
Small Town Charm, World Class Hospitality
Only eight miles or one free bus ride away from the mountain, downtown Whitefish has more character than you can shake a ski pole at. This railroad town was incorporated in 1905, a year after the arrival of the Great Northern Railway. Hard working railroad employees, along with growing logging and mining companies, supported the establishment of bars, restaurants and shops along Central Avenue and Second Street in buildings that still stand today. From the 1927 Tudor Revival train depot (listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2002) to the first brick building (1907) that houses Great Northern Cycles bike shop and espresso bar near the corner of 3rd and Central.
Today one can find bars that pre-date the ski area next door to newly revitalized bars and restaurants with added amenities that maintain the charm of their historic buildings. Local eateries vary from casual to elegant and many serve locally-harvested ingredients from the Flathead Valley’s bountiful farms. Mixed in are locally-owned boutique shops, galleries, and jewelers, as well as City Hall (recently razed and rebuilt), Central Middle School and Nelson’s Hardware store (not many ski towns can still claim one of those).
The Ski Heritage Center Museum of Skiing
After more than five years of hard work, the Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation opened The Ski Heritage Center Museum in December 2017. A small committee, including the children of Whitefish skiing pioneers Lloyd “Mully” Muldown, Karl Hinderman and Ed Schenck garnered support, photos and artifacts from the community to establish a place where winter enthusiasts can experience the unique history of skiing in the Flathead Valley. The museum is located between downtown Whitefish and Whitefish Mountain Resort in the historic Mountain Trails Saddle Club log cabin on Wisconsin Avenue.
Uphill Skiing, SkiMo Race Series and the Whitefish Whiteout
Whitefish Mountain Resort was one of the first ski areas to establish a policy to safely manage its uphill skiing community. In the years leading up to the 2009-2010 ski season, uphill traffic grew from a niche hobby to a downright popular recreational choice. As the sport became more accessible, more novice skiers began to participate. This increase in volume, combined with a decrease in average experience level, led to some problems that were becoming increasing common early 2010. Together with the Flathead National Forest, on which the majority of the ski area exists, and the local uphill skiing community a policy was formed.
In 2017 Whitefish Mountain Resort added a “SkiMo” component to its Wednesday Night Race League Series and it was well received. This winter the series features five races starting on Wednesday, January 8, 2019. The courses combine uphill and downhill and competitors need skins, a headlamp, and some wayfinding ability.
For the last decade the Whitefish Whiteout has steadily grown from a local grassroots event to an international competition attracting entrants from around the globe. This year’s event takes place on Saturday February 8, 2020. The race is divided into three categories: a long course, a short course and ascent only. All three begin in the Lift Plaza adjacent to the bottom of Chair 1 and ascend 2,084 feet to the summit. The short course features three stages, and the long course will entail seven to eight stages—climbing nearly a mile and covering more than eight miles in distance.
Commitment to Winter Fun
Night Skiing: Après ski? After school program? Yes!
What better way to après ski than to keep skiing? Skiing under the lights is a fun way to extend your day on the slopes and is offered Friday and Saturday nights January 3 to March 7, 2020 and over the holidays December 26 to December 31, 2019 and Sunday, February 16, 2020. There are three lifts available during night skiing serving beginner and intermediate terrain as well as the Whitefish Terrain Parks. Hours are 4-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, or purchase a Swing Shift Ticket to hit the slopes at 1 p.m. and ski until 8:30 p.m. for the day ticket price of $83 (adult rate) Season Pass Holders have full access to night skiing.
Since January 2013 Whitefish Mountain Resort has worked with the Stumptown Afterschool Program to provide local middle school students (grades 5 to 8) an opportunity to ski or snowboard with their friends or meet new friends after school on Fridays.
Since the 2004/05 season, the resort has provided its pass holders with the ability to track their vertical throughout the season. Winter season pass and frequent skier card holders can sign up and track through the resort’s website, skiwhitefish.com. Once logged in, they track their vertical overall ranking and see how one measures up to their family, friends or anyone they choose to add to their “Buddy List” or compare personal stats season to season.
Winter 2018/19 Broke Records (again):
New record for total skier visits: more than 384,800 (previously the record was more than 382,000 in 2017/18)
New record for total pass holder vertical: surpassing previous record year of 2017/18 of 2,098,833,477 feet setting a new record for Total Passholder Vertical of 2,138,088,989 feet for 2018/19.
Off Piste – Natural Wonders Await
Beyond the slopes lies a vast and beautiful landscape waiting to be explored and tasted. Winter’s white is a blank canvas for endless adventures from snowmobiling through peaks and valleys to the serenity of a snowshoe or cross-country ski along a frozen lake… Must do: Visit Glacier National Park! A mere 45 minute drive from the resort, Glacier is an unforgettable experience for the entire family.
Only in Whitefish:
Après Ski at one of our classic Montana bars at the resort either The Bierstube or Hellroaring Saloon & Eatery
Visit our local national park with Glacier National Park Tours
Experience Backcountry Cat Skiing with Great Northern Powder Guides
Enjoy a Sleigh Ride Dinner at Bar W Guest Ranch
Explore the forest by going snow biking on the Whitefish Trail
Sip local brews at Great Northern Brewery and Bonsai Brewing Project
Sample spirits at local distillery Spotted Bear Spirits
Sit back with a cup of locally roasted coffee at Montana Coffee Traders
More Winter Fun:
Fat Biking (mountain biking on snow)
Dog Sled Tours
Cross Country Skiing
Yoga & Pilates
Fun for the kids:
Ice skating at the Stumptown Ice Den
Swimming at The Wave Aquatic & Fitness Center
Be an artist at the Stumptown Arts Studio
Get the ball rolling at the Pin & Cue bowling alley