WHITEFISH – For the first time in its history, Whitefish Mountain resort was forced to close lifts for a total of six days in February and March due to extreme weather.
According to Whitefish Mountain Resort spokesperson Riley Polumbus, the upper mountain was closed February 3, 4, 9, 25 and 2 as well as March 2. A day later, the weather delayed chair 1 and upper mountain lifts from opening.
Polumbus tells MTN this is the coldest February the mountain has ever experienced. On some days with wind chill, the summit dipped to -40.
Polumbus says usually the mountain sees 4,000 to 5,000 skiers per-day and last weekend when it was cold and lifts were closed the mountain only saw 1,700 guests.
She says the resort accounts for wind, temperature and the safety of their guests when deciding to close certain lifts.
She stresses that it’s never easy for the mountain to close the lifts, but the mountain has to close some days for safety. However, it is taking a toll on the mountain’s revenue.
“We have a lodge and a summit house with a restaurant on top, so you lose revenue from that,” Polumbus said. “We’ve had to cancel several events because of this, so we’ve lost revenue from that. It’s not an ideal situation but it is Mother Nature and it is part of the risk in being in this industry,” says Polumbus.
Guests that visited while lifts were closed were given refunds for their tickets, which are valid for a year.
While the mountain strives to keep folks safe on freezing days, some visitors expressed their anger that the mountain decided to close. So many comments were made, CEO Dan Graves issued a statement emailed to passholders:
“It’s no secret that we have had our share of lift problems this year and we’re certainly not happy about it. But for someone who has never spent any time working as a lift mechanic or electrician to accuse management of not hiring competent lift maintenance staff or being cheap about fixing the lifts…is really not okay…We want the lifts to run perfectly every minute of every day. Unfortunately nothing in life is perfect every day.”
Graves goes onto thank the lift maintenance staff and the rest of his team at Whitefish mountain resort.