Resort looks to further develop Hellroaring Basin

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Whitefish Mountain Resort is hoping to bring more skiers and runs into the Hellroaring Basin area.

The resort has submitted plans to the Flathead National Forest Tally Lake District for a proposed improvement project in Hellroaring Basin, which could change chairlift locations, provide more access to the basin, add groomed runs and reverse some negative grades on the Hellfire Run. The proposed project is within the resort’s permit boundary.

“We are excited to begin the process of possible future improvements in Hellroaring Basin. While we have been in discussions for several years now, submitting this plan is the first step toward the next major improvement project at the resort,” Whitefish Mountain Resort CEO Dan Graves said in a prepared release. “The Hellroaring Basin improvement project will increase access, and add improve slope variety in Hellroaring Basin. Additionally, relocating the Hellroaring chairlift would allow riders to access more terrain than its current location therefore creating better flow around the mountain.”

Chair 8, or the Hellroaring lift, would be moved to carry riders from the Grand Junction area to the intersection of Toni Matt and Big Ravine just under the summit, allowing skiers to both access the front side and re-enter the Basin without flooding Chair 1. Current trails in the basin would also be modified to eliminate adverse grades and create gladed areas.

Moving Chair 8 could also help the lift open earlier in the season than it currently does because the Grand Junction area is at a higher elevation.

A service road would be built from the top of Chair 2 to Grand Junction providing additional skier access, as well as an evacuation route for injured skiers, the resort notes. A bridge for the proposed service road would also be constructed based upon a design determined by the Forest Service.

The basin opened for skiing in 1996 and added Chair 8 the following season, which had been on the north side of the mountain previously.

Plans also call for adding an additional lift to run from Grand Junction to the top of Hellroaring Peak, along with two runs on the west and east ridges. A cat track is proposed to provide access from Hellroaring Peak to Gray Wolf on the mountain’s north side.

Project design features are expected to be included in a future environmental analysis document, according to the Forest Service.

If approved by the Forest Service, the project would extend through a minimum of two years, completed in phases, according to the resort, which says no timeline will be set until a decision is made by the Flathead National Forest Tally Lake District. In a scoping document, the Forest Service says work on project would be completed between June and November over a three-year time period. Construction would require the use of helicopters and heavy equipment, and tree felling would be done by machines and by hand.

Public comments on the proposed project are being taken by the Forest Service. Comments may be emailed to: comments-northern-flathead-tally-lake@fs.fed.us; or sent to Tally Lake Ranger District, Attn: Hellroaring Basin Improvements Project, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT 59901.

Site specific comments received by Nov. 20 are the most helpful in project development, the Forest Service notes. The district also welcomes those who do not have a comment, but wish to be notified of additional public comment opportunities, to only provide their contact information. In order to reduce costs and increase efficiency, email is the preferred method of contact. The next public input opportunity is anticipated to be on the environmental analysis document.

Additional project information is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55012.

Questions regarding the project should be directed to Hans Castren, Recreation Specialist, or Bill Mulholland, District Ranger, at 406-758-5200.

Whitefish Mountain Resort is set to open for the 2018-19 season on Dec. 6. For more information, visit skiwhitefish.com.

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