The year 2018 once again found me skiing Whitefish Mountain Resort. My cousin, a buddy, and myself loaded into my Suburban and we all headed West from Hortonville, Wausau, and Eagen to Whitefish Montana. In this article I write up a summary of the trip.
Skiing Whitefish Mountain Resort — The Highs and the Lows
The Snow — Another Banner Year!
The reports rolling in were promising in that the Ullr was delivering copious snow to the North Rocky Mountains. The weather on the way was mixed with snow greeting us in Western Minnesota and staying with us to Central North Dakota. When we finally got the lodge check in the snowflakes were falling in a very pleasant greeting. We had fresh snow every day ranging from 3″ overnight up to 8″.
In fact, a sign informing us that Hellroaring Basin was closed due to avalanche control activities greeted us off of our first Swift Creek chair unload! How about that!
I am Back in Black!
The Larch — An Easy First Black!
I vowed I would ski a black diamond trail on this trip. I skied three of them. The first was an entry level black diamond run. The Larch, which is a short steep groomer run that runs next to the Big Mountain Express — it is one of three sibling runs — The Larch, Powder Bowl, and Little Bavaria. I did it right, I entered from the right side traversed left, and started to turn. Once I dropped in and started turning, it was easy and I got to the bottom with little problem. I clanked poles with my cousin and then we picked up Corkscrew and got to the bottom.
Kodiak — Moguls on a Black
I also skied Kodiak and “skied” The Chute. Both of which are studded with soft moguls. The Kodiak starts with a gentle pitch and turns into a steep mogul-studded headwall. This time I entered on the left which had me making my initial traverse from left to right (as you are looking down the pitch). When I am on advanced terrain I find it much easier to make my first turn to the right and this one had me setup to turn to the left.
I ended up sideslipping about half of the descent and then I got onto the top of a particularly proud mogul and I recalled this tip from Eric Wagnon: When your skis are going across the crest of the bump’s backside, the tips and tails are off the snow for a moment, so it’s an ideal place to use as a “pivot point” for changing direction. I spun my skis around and started to make legitimate ski turns in that mogul field. Once that first turn is made in good form then the rest just flow! Yes my turns flowed down the hill!
My time on the Kodiak was very valuable as I was able to make good turns (once I started them) in the mogul field. Admittedly the moguls were soft but still I distinctly remember sound turns and I asked my cousin if my turns were legit. He answered yes. I took that technique home and started to seek and slay bumps. I am now a black-bump skier!
The Chute — Lars Strikes Again!
The third black diamond was The Chute. This one was a steady steep pitch and again decorated with soft moguls. Once again I dropped in from the left side and unfortunately this time I was not able to get the skis to turn until I was nearly at the bottom and then the two attempts at turns were poor and both ended up pitching me to go swimming in the snow. Still, I survived the run I maintained composure and I DID DROP IN!
Actually, we were looking for Inspiration and my cousin thought The Chute was Inspiration.
The Bierstube — It felt like home.
One of the iconic ski taverns in the nation is The Bierstube. Ski literature frequently calls The ‘Stube out! When my cousin and I walked in there after our first day of skiing was over, it was definitely familiar and comforting to be back. Some people may liken The ‘Stube as a dive bar but it is anything but that. The clientele add the dive to the bar and there was nothing dodgey about the clientele. I find it a cozy bar where you can be comfortable and do not have to put on pretenses.
The Red Chair
On the journey back home upon reaching Bozeman we stopped at The Red Chair Cafe and the sister of my cousin (I could just say other cousin, but I want to highlight the brother-sister relationship) I was skiing with showed up with her children and her husband appeared a bit later. It was super cool to see them and the burger I had there was probably the best burger I have ever had!
The legs rocked this trip! Last year they were fried after my first day, but this year they dealt well with four full days of skiing. Now, I did not ski chair to chair from 9-4 all four days. Last year I skied hard on day one. We took the tour with the mountain ambassador, took a lunch break, and then I took three hours of lessons. My legs were absolutely fried after that. I skied little the next day.
This year, I would make a few runs and then go in for some water and a little snack and rest. Go back out and repeat. In addition, I spent about 6-8 hours a week on my bike trainer (either solo or in a class) from November up to our departure. Not only did this help with weight reduction it helped keep my legs strong and enduring. Since I am a bike racer this training serves double duty!
I know trainers and ski coaches will tell you cycling is not the best exercise for skiing, but it made the difference for me on this trip compared to the previous year. The difference was sitting in the condo vs skiing and I don’t make all of that effort to sit in a condo.
Not Skiing Mully’s
One definite lowlight is I did not ski Mully’s Moguls. Why? I can only say fear, While I skied the moguls of Kodiak that field is relatively short in comparison to Mully’s. I’ll remember not doing this for a long time. Regardless of how hard or soft those moguls are I need to challenge myself with them.
Not Skiing Ptarmingan Bowl
I am disappointed I never did drop into the Ptarmigan Bowl. This had been a major goal of mine. However, day one I was getting my ski legs back and days two and three had visibility limitations. Day four, I was not eager to take on any challenges, the legs were getting tired. Unfortunately, the ache in the legs is long forgotten but the shame of not tearing up the Ptarmingan Bowl will live on.
A New Alternator
I am proud of my truck and the fact I am getting my money’s worth. However, this means maintenance and increased risk of roadside breakdowns. Sure enough, just outside of Missoula Montana I noticed my battery light blinking. We tried to get to Butte but that failed. However, we did get off of the highway and into a hotel’s parking lot before the truck’s engine expired. This was on Friday around noon and again we were fortunate in being referred to a decent tow truck driver and garage. About two hours later we were back on the road.
After the breakdown things proceeded perfectly. In the end the crew at A&A Technical Repair in Anaconda Montana and Jason the tow truck driver did us and the auto-repair industry a solid! THANK YOU!
I thought I had my swimming trunks packed away. Nope, I did not and did not discover that until after giving my cousin a hard time about not bringing his along. When we went into town I bought a pair but in the end, I did not use them and returned the trunks when I got home. Hottubbing is a major part of my leg recovery maintenance plan when skiing big. However, it was a lower priority than Bierstubeing!
Skiing Whitefish Mountain Resort — Overall
One word to summarize my trip to Whitefish: STUPENDOUS (you didn’t think I would says epic did you?)! Would I suggest you go to Whitefish Mountain Resort? YES! Will I return? Probably not, because there is such a big world to see!