$1.2 million project to improve access to intermediate and advanced terrain
MONTANA LIVING — Whitefish Mountain Resort will relocate Chair 5 from Ptarmigan Bowl to the East Rim for winter 2017/18.
Moving the chairlift will improve skier access to intermediate and advanced terrain and offer skiers an alternative way to access north side terrain while taking pressure off the resort’s Chair 1, reducing traffic on the upper section of Russ’s Street (Ant Hill), mitigating the long traverse from the east side terrain along Russ’s Street back to Chair 1, and improve skier flow at the resort. Work on the project is expected to begin this April.
“We are pleased to continue what has been a decade of steady improvements at Whitefish Mountain Resort with the reposition of Chair 5 to better utilize our lift infrastructure and improve the guest experience as we celebrate our 70th anniversary,” Whitefish Mountain Resort CEO Dan Graves said. “The East Rim Chair will create a stand-alone pod of skiing in the North Bowl and East Rim areas where our guests can take advantage of early and late season ski conditions found on the upper mountain. The lift’s new location also will spread skiers out across the resort alleviating congestion on Russ’s Street including the upper section commonly called the Ant Hill.”
The bottom terminal of Chair 5 will be located near the intersection of Russ’s Street and Moe-Mentum ski runs. The top terminal will be located on the “knob” just west of Don’s Descent on the East Rim allowing skiers to access the East Rim, North Bowl as well as North Side Chairs 7 and 11 and T-Bar 2. Not only will this location provide improved lift service to ski terrain that is under-utilized, but also provide a variety of options from the unloading terminal to other lifts e.g. Chair 7, the Flower Point Chair, and T-bar 2. The chair will operate daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Several upgrades to Chair 5 will be made in the move including but not limited to: a new electric motor, new drive, new braking system, new hydraulic tension system, a re-build of the gear box and restraining bars for chairs. Skytrac will be responsible for the move. The process could begin as early as April with the removal of chairs. The resort will maintain a storage facility and radio towers at the current Chair 5 top terminal site.
Chair 5, a CTEC fixed-grip triple, was first installed in 1981 at the cost of $500,000. Officially named “Glacier View” and also dubbed the “High Five” lift, it added access to the summit which was then served only by the original Chair 1, a fixed-grip double which at the time was a 15-minute ride. As the ski area added chairlifts and terrain on the North Side and Hellroaring Basin, ridership on Chair 5 has diminished. The chair has not operated regularly since the 1990s when Chair 1 was replaced with a high-speed quad and has not operated at all since the 2014/15 season.
This is not the first time the resort has moved chair lifts to enhance the guest experience. In 1997 Chair 7 was replaced with a high-speed quad and the original Chair 7 was moved to Hellroaring Basin when it opened and became Chair 8. In 2007 Chair 1 was moved to Chair 2 upgrading the double chair to a high-speed quad.
TENTATVE LIFT STATS:
Lift Name: Chair 5 “East Rim”
Lift Manufacturer: CTEC
Lift Type: Fixed-grip triple
Horizontal Length: 2,540 feet
Vertical Rise: 814 feet
Uphill Capacity: 1,600 people per hour
Number of Chairs: 110
Number of Towers: 14
Project Start Date: April 2017
Anticipated Completion Date: December 2017