Day 13 Sat Feb 4 Whitefish 3500m vertical (37900 total)

A day of challenges.  The storm has continued on track and the first challenge was getting out of the motel car park and only slightly less challenging negotiating the main street of downtown Missoula.  Tried the second coffee place downtown – Zootown Brew – and got one of the finest coffees I’ve had in the US.  Very tentative for the first bit of the drive but settled down after a bit.  Right lane had been fairly well plowed but using the left lane – or being passed by anyone – had its own set of challenges.  And left fingernail marks in the steering wheel when did a downhill corner coming into Polson and the grooming just disappeared – as did most of the car’s traction.  I’m constantly amazed by the number of people over here who persist in driving these big rear wheel drive pickups that seem to have absolutely no traction anytime you have to brake, steer, go round corners etc.  Its hard enough in a proper car. 

Hmm, my ‘rule’ about avoiding lift skiing on a Saturday seems to be notable in its breach rather than its observance lately. Had decided on Whitefish even though it’s a long day trip from Missoula as it had a good fall last night and more due during the day.  And of course there’s the lemon & blueberry scone and coffee at Montana Coffee Traders.  Snowing quite steadily heading up the hill and kept up most of the day.  Quite a queue at Chair 1 so did a lap of chair 2 to get the first turns for the day then had a remarkably quick passage through the singles line on chair 1 and up to the top.  Socked in up the top and headed in to the new Summit House which should have been renamed mad house as it was absolutely packed.

Headed over the back for a very nice run down to Flower Point.  From the top meant to do the wide out run back to its base but somehow found myself back out on the frontside of the mountain on the interminable cat track to the base of chair 1.  Oh well. Big Face had looked good from the chair and I hoped there was just enough tree cover to give a bit of visibility but it was yet another challenge.  Lovely snow on top though a little heavier than at Lookout but again there was a very solid base underneath which you could hit on the steeper pitches. After a good run out in Big Ravine back up and this time headed for the trees in Good Medicine.  Great snow but again occasionally hitting the firm underneath, and found myself being even more challenged than I really wanted.

As one of the old knees finally started to complain a bit I finished up with some groomers.  Well worth the trip.  Back in town to be greeted by chaos as the Winter Carnival parade had just concluded and traffic was insane.  Drove down a couple of sidestreets to try and park but they were almost undrivable with the amount of snow.  With coffee and scone on hand started the trip back to Missoula and only a couple of km out of town watched the almost comical spectacle of a pickup a little up the road loose it trying to cut back from the left lane and do a 180 spin (thankfully into a waiting snow bank rather than another car).  Drive back only a little slower than normal without any additional challenges.

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