While there isn’t much snow in the valley, Whitefish Mountain Resort has enough to open for the season today.
The resort will open with limited terrain on the north and east sides. Chairs 1, 5, 6, 7, 11 and T-Bar 2 will all be active, and skiers will be required to download on Chair 1.
The new East Rim chairlift will allow skiers to access 10 runs including Moe Mentum, East Rim Face, East Rim, Whitey’s, N.B.C., First Creek, Don’s Descent, Moose, Evan’s Heaven and Lee’s Way.
Chair 1 will begin running at 9:30 a.m., while all other lifts will start at 10 a.m.
There will not be any terrain open to ski down to the Base Lodge. The resort will provide shuttles to transport guests between the lift plaza and Base Lodge as well as lower mountain parking lots.
More snow is needed on the lower mountain for additional runs and beginning terrain to open.
“We’re working to get lower mountain terrain open as soon as we can, but right now it’s too early to tell,” resort spokeswoman Riley Polumbus said.
“It’s all going to depend on what kind of snow we can make, the same goes with all the other runs. We’re just not quite there yet in terms of the base set for a lot of the front side.”
There will be a short ceremony today to celebrate Chair 5’s reincarnation on the East Rim. Those wanting to join the celebration should meet at Chair 5 just before 10 a.m. to inaugurate the first day in its new home.
This season follows a historic season last year on the mountain, with new records for total visits at 345,000 and passholder visits at 147,000, as well as a total of 407 inches of snowfall, the second most in the last 20 years.
Weather forecasters earlier this year predicted La Niña potentially emerging for a second year in a row, meaning above average precipitation and below-average temperatures in the northern United States this winter.
However, abnormally strong high pressure in the western United States will likely mean no new snow through mid-December, the National Weather Service in Missoula reports.
Polumbus said while the forecast doesn’t look ideal for opening up more areas of the mountain in the coming days, workers are doing all they can to get more snow on the ground.
“We’re looking at cold temps, but unfortunately not a lot of precipitation in the forecast,” Polumbus said. “We’ll be doing our best to try to make snow but that’s totally dependent on temps and humidity.”
“Everyone should do their snow dances to bring us some snow.”