Montana Bound: Another Great Escape to Big Sky Country

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Item: Whitefish, MT, Jan. 2015
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With forecasts calling for warm air in the Cascades, we headed east to Montana in search of some cowboy powder. Last winter we made the same pilgrimage via the Great Northern Railway. Stretching from Seattle to Minnesota and with many stops along the way, the train is an easy way to travel to Whitefish Mountain Resort for a weekend of snowboarding. But with gas prices these days, we couldn’t resist the open road. The car was already loaded. We were Montana bound.

It was a solid 12 hour day full of all of the trials and tribulations of a slightly disorganized snowboarding trip: roof rack issues, Montana mountain pass snowstorms, hangriness (it is a real thing), and lack of music on our iPhones, we pulled in late to the sleepy ski town hidden between the Glacier National Park mountains and the Canadian Rockies – wide open skies acting as the only thing separating the two mountain ranges.

For the next three days we explored the 3,000 acres of open terrain and 2,353 vertical feet of Whitefish Mountain Resort. High pressure in the Flathead Valley kept temperatures in the low 20’s our first day, giving us a chance to sneak in a few powder runs from the previous week’s heavy snowfall before the clouds arrived and temperatures rose. The sun eventually came out and the snow softened into fast, slushy groomers. It felt like we were riding in the spring time and I could swear we left with goggle tans. Maybe it wasn’t the cold we were searching for, but rocky mountain groomers are nice, too.

We met with Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Riley Polumbus for some midday turns on Saturday. In addition to damaging our fragile snowboarder egos with her impressive skills on tele skis, she also graciously showed us around mountain, including the new Flower Point chair. The newest addition opens up four new runs on the North Side and access to terrain that was previously out of bounds. We went on to explore the Hellroaring Basin – a diverse section of steep trees and double black diamonds. It also features a 3.3 mile run that takes you all the way to the bottom of the Basin – a run appropriately named Hellfire.

With 300 annual inches of snowfall and an average high temperature of 32 degrees, Whitefish Mountain resort provided us with salvation in the form of powder when we thought all hope was lost this winter. A bit dramatic, perhaps. But next time the snow refuses to fall around the Pacific Northwest, I know exactly where I will be headed. A special thanks to the kind and colorful people of the Flathead Valley, Whitefish Mountain Resort, and Riley Polumbus for another great escape to the Big Sky Country.


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