Skiing at Whitefish Mountain
Side of Big Mountain
back side of Big Mountain always has the best skiing conditions.
The reason for this is because it tends to receive
more snow than the front side (higher elevation) and also
because it faces north. Since the back side faces north,
snow doesn’t melt nearly as fast as it does on the
front side. And since the snow usually doesn’t melt
and then re-freeze, the ski trails on the back side of Big
Mountain generally have very little in the way of icy spots.
Peak in the Hellroaring Basin
vertical rise on the back side of Big Mountain is not the
greatest, with only about 1000 true vertical feet. However,
the trails on the backside are enjoyable to ski – especially
if you like to ski groomed intermediate trails. Goat
Whitetail and Silvertip are all excellent groomed
intermediate level trails on the back side of the mountain.
skiers will also find many good trails on the backside.
These expert level trails have one defining characteristic
for the most part – they start out VERY steep right
below the summit and then flatten out as they merge into
the intermediate trails below. While these expert level trails
tend to be short, they are steep, usually bumpy and true
expert level trails in every sense of the word. Both Marmot and Black
Bear are good expert level trails on the back side.
double diamond expert run is also found on the back side of the
mountain. This trail is very short but is also very,
very steep at the top. This ski trail is called Bighorn.
Unless you are an advanced skier, stay off this trail because
if you fall you will have a very nasty tumble all the way
down to the bottom of the steep part – probably hitting
some trees and rocks along the way.
is only one chairlift on the backside of Big Mountain.
The chair, though, is a high-speed quad with a ride time
of around 8 minutes. During the weekdays, there is never
any sort of line on this quad. During the weekends, some
short lines can exist from time to time – but the lines
length doesn’t even come close to what is found on
the front side of the mountain.
Hellroaring Basin area of Big Mountain is, at least to
me, the “crown jewel” of the ski area. It
is unspoiled, undeveloped, not heavily used and provides
extensive off-trail skiing among a wide variety of advanced
Upper Reaches of Hellroaring Basin
Basin is not for beginners or intermediate skiers. Only
one intermediate trail exists in the Hellroaring Basin – and
this trail is nothing special. While enjoyable to ski in
a way – the snow conditions usually aren’t the
greatest and the many flat spots can make a trip down Hellfire
less than exciting.
of having a multitude of groomed trails, Hellroaring
Basin consists entirely of ungroomed trails of the diamond
and double-diamond variety. Skiing ranges from open bowl
type skiing to thick tree skiing – and pretty much
everything else in between including chutes, the steeps and
bumps. The only thing you won’t find back in Hellroaring
Basin is anything groomed (other than the Hellfire Trail
which forms the boundary of the basin).
good snow conditions, Hellroaring Basin provides challenging
skiing on more than 1000 acres. Additional acreage
can be found by sneaking out of bounds and doing a hike up
to the top of Hellroaring Peak. Once there, a huge expanse
of powder skiing awaits you – with a skiable vertical
approaching 2000 feet.
are several marked “trails” in the Hellroaring
Basin. But these aren’t trails in the true sense of
the word. Instead, they are better called “routes”,
really. You access these “routes” at the signs – but
once below the signs, where you go is entirely up to you
as no designated trail exists.
in the Hellroaring Basin isn’t for wimps. The
skiing, even during good snow conditions, is challenging.
During bad snow conditions it can be darn right dangerous.
As all the snow is of the natural kind, all sorts of hidden
obstacles await the unsuspecting skier. As the area has many
trees and some rocky spots as well, a fall the wrong way
can lead to a nasty injury. And since there are no designated
trails, if you are skiing alone and knock yourself out cold
while skiing in the Hellroaring Basin, it may be a long time
before anyone finds you.
I ski back in Hellroaring Basin alone all the time and
so far have survived the tale – haven’t
really had any close calls, in fact. The reason for this
is that skiing back in the Hellroaring Basin requires
some common sense. Once you commit to the basin there is NO TURNING
BACK. Thus, if a trail looks above your ability from above,
exercise some common sense and don’t go on it. Additionally,
always be alert for trees, stumps and hidden rocks. Also
make sure you know how to fall properly – if you start
losing your balance it is always best to just fall back up
the mountain than risk a head first tumble down the steeper
parts of the basin. Skiing slow is also generally a good
idea as well.
be prepared for some thick tree skiing in spots. The upper
part of Hellroaring Basin is only partially or lightly
wooded. However, the lower half of the basin is very heavily
wooded. While there are a few ways to avoid the thick trees,
sooner or later most people find themselves lost in the thick
trees from time to time. If you are unable to make fairly
tight turns in thick foliage in deep snow – skiing
in the basin may not necessarily be for you.
Accessing the Hellroaring Basin at Big Mountain is easy.
Just hop on the boring Hellfire Trail which begins at the
summit of Big Mountain and follow it into the basin. From
there, just keep following Hellfire until you see some interesting
terrain to jump off into.
one chair lift serves Hellroaring Basin – and
that chair doesn’t take you back up to the summit of
Big Mountain. Instead, the chair lift deposits you on the
ridge above the village area – right behind the double
chairlift which is on the front side of the mountain. Thus,
once you ski down Hellroaring Basin, you need to take a chairlift
back up to the ridge, then ski back down to the village area
to hop on the Glacier Chaser High Speed Quad for a ride back
to the summit. This slight “hassle” in skiing
Hellroaring Basin probably helps keep skier use down a bit,
though, so I have no complaints.
Page : More Big Mountain Information