Uphill skiers get warning from Flathead National Forest
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: March 2, 2022

In recent weeks, Whitefish Mountain Resort and the U.S. Forest Service Tally Lake Ranger District have documented uphill skiers venturing off designated routes and getting dangerously close to grooming equipment, risking their personal safety and violating the resort’s uphill policy.These incidents have caused significant disruptions to the resort’s grooming operations and prevented staff from operating machines on certain slopes.Whitefish Mountain Resort makes a constant effort to safely allow uphill travel within its permit boundary. For this to continue, it is imperative that all guests follow the rules and make safety their No. 1 priority. Newcomers and veterans of ski mountaineering should routinely familiarize themselves with the uphill policy at skiwhitefish.com/uphill.“The vast majority of folks in our local uphill community follow the rules and make sure their partners do, too. We thank them for doing their part,” Whitefish Mountain Resort President Nick Polumbus said. “Unfortunately, the dangerous behaviors we’ve seen can ruin the skiing experience for everybody and put additional stress on our groomers, who work hard every day to keep the mountain in shape.”“Uphill skiers enjoy an excellent recreation opportunity on the mountain. However certain restrictions are in place to help ensure the safety of not only the public but the groomer operators as well,” Tally Lake District Ranger Bill Mulholland said. “We need everyone’s help by staying on the designated routes and following the uphill policy.”Some urgent reminders are as follows:

  • According to Whitefish Mountain Resort policy and a special order from the Forest Service, all guests must stay at least 100 feet from grooming machines, even if the machines are stationary, and at least 50 feet from all snowmaking equipment, including fan guns, high-pressure water lines and high-voltage electrical cables.
  • Guests should never duck under or ski over winch cables used to pull grooming machines up the mountain. These heavy steel cables carry immense loads and can move suddenly and rapidly, resulting in serious injury or death.
  • Each guest must have an uphill pass or ticket visibly displayed on their person while hiking up Big Mountain during the winter operating season. For anyone who purchased a regular season pass, an uphill pass was a free addition. Uphill-only season passes cost $125 apiece. One-day uphill tickets cost $13 apiece.
  • There are two — only two — designated routes where uphill skiing is permitted during the winter operating season. Both the Benny Up and the East Route begin at the Spruce parking lot and end at the summit. Each route is marked with red diamond-shaped signs. Route maps and descriptions can be found at skiwhitefish.com/uphill. The Benny Up is open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. The East Route is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Uphill skiing on any other part of the mountain is unsafe and therefore prohibited.
  • Uphill skiers must yield to downhill skiers and snowboarders, stay on the edge of the route (not in the middle of trails) and never hike more than two people side by side. Collisions between uphill and downhill skiers are extremely dangerous and can be avoided.
  • Guests may not bring dogs or other pets, or ski with a child or infant in a backpack-style carrier. Dogs are not permitted at Whitefish Mountain Resort except in the parking lots.
  • Guests must heed all posted warnings and never ski in closed areas. Closures occur for reasons such as avalanche mitigation and dangerous weather conditions.
  • Some rules vary during the winter operating season, which ends April 10, and the 14-day pre- and post-seasons. Rules for the pre- and post-seasons can be found at skiwhitefish.com/uphill.