On the third day of our Montana road trip we headed through of the town of Whitefish, about 30 minutes north of Kalispell. We drove through the town and up the mountain to Whitefish Mountain Resort. The whole way there we could see the ski runs carved in the mountain.
I’ve been skiing 3 times before- in West Virginia, New Mexico, and Alaska. The most recent time was Alaska about 5 years ago. I was in Anchorage visiting my mom at Christmas time while she was working up there. There was a small ski area right outside of the city and I went by myself while she was at work. By the end of that day I really felt like I finally got the rhythm of skiing down so I’ve been itching to go back ever since!
Drew has been once before and has not been interested in going again. So convincing him to go was not easy but he loves me 🙂
We arrived around 9am. Late March is nearing the end of their winter season but there were still quite a few people skiing and enjoying the resort. Drew’s mom Cathy had a hurt back from our Snowmobiling adventure so she stayed in the lodge to watch and take pictures. It was a beautiful day and we were overdressed. The weather was warm and sunny and perfect! We weren’t the only ones in camo, either! (use what you got!)
Drew and I checked in at the Base Lodge and purchased the beginner’s package, which is the best deal I’ve even seen on skiing: $75 per person gets you two days of lower lift tickets, two ski school sessions, and full rentals! We were only going to be there for 1 day but it was still the best deal we could get. We picked up our gear, remembered how to walk in those awful ski boots, grabbed a run map and met the other ski school students at the waiting area. Our morning session was 2 hours with an instructor and about 5 other newbies.
I was pleasantly surprised that when I put on my skis at Whitefish, it all came back- like riding a bicycle! But it was nice to go through ski school with Drew as I picked up a lot of improvements I could make. Our instructor was awesome. So patient and knowledgeable. Another thing I’ve never seen before that Whitefish had was a small ski run just for learning, called the Big Easy. All the ski school students were using it but it never felt overcrowded. AND instead of a tiny chair lift to get to the top of the Big Easy, they had a conveyor belt called the Magic Carpet! You ski right up to this moving carpet, push yourself on, and then stand up and ride up the slope! It’s pretty great and far less intimidating than a chair lift for a first-timer.
So we spent about 2 hours riding the Magic Carpet up and skiing down the Big Easy using different techniques as instructed.
Once Drew was comfortable, we left the class to go to the lower chair lift, Lift 6 to the Village.
This lower lift takes you from Base Lodge to the Village. From the Village you can go down Chipmunk or Huckleberry or go up the Big Mountain Express lift which will take you to the top of the mountain! We did NOT take the Big Mountain Express 🙂 I made that mistake in New Mexico and had to basically ride my skis like a sled down the mountain because I couldn’t handle the big runs!
Our instructor recommended the Huckleberry Patch for our first ski run as it was the easiest green run available to us. WWe made the mistake of trying to get to Huckleberry from a steep hill. There was no slow way to get down this steep hill so I just went straight down and stopped at the top of Huckleberry. Drew tried to switchback down the hill and ended up not being able to get to Huckleberry. He went flying across Chipmunk and wiped out.
I couldn’t go back so just went down my run. He fell again near the bottom of Chipmunk. I met him at the bottom and he was not happy. I felt awful because the ONLY reason he even WENT skiing was because I love it so much. And now he busted his butt twice for me. We decided to take a break and eat lunch with Cathy in the lodge.
The grilled cheese was TO DIE FOR. Actually EVERYTHING was delicious so many it was more me being starving and having so much fun! After lunch Drew went back to the Big Easy to build up his confidence and I went back to Huckleberry. This time on my way up the chair lift I noticed a cut-across that went under the lift and across Chipmunk to Huckleberry.
I tried it and it was SO much better than our first go! I took my time down Huckleberry and went to find Drew. He reluctantly agreed to give it a go again because he’s amazing. I brought him the easy way and he actually enjoyed that run! We did the same run 3-4 more times and got really comfortable.
I could have stayed all day but Drew and Cathy wanted to head out so we returned our gear, stopped by the gift shop (obviously) and went back to Kalispell. We didn’t even touch most of the ski runs but I still had so much fun. My endorphin levels were so ramped up that I was on a natural high all day.
On our way down the mountain we even found a Mule Deer yearling and his/her momma feeding on the slopes.
Every time I ski I get more confident and get better with my technique. This was my 4th time skiing and my first time to not fall at all! I’m already dreaming of next winter hoping to go again 🙂