Day 17 Wed 7 Feb. Kalispell – Blacktail – Missoula. 2300m vertical (43,700 total)

And it’s goodbye to the sun – it was a novelty while it lasted.  Once again a dusting on the car overnight but overcast and dry when I finally started throwing everything in the car.  Wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  They’d had a few inches over the last few days and had been closed since Sunday, but reading the Whitefish report this morning it obviously got a little damp overnight.  I’d done a couple of days here 6 years ago and figured it would be a nice way to fill in a few hours en route to Missoula.

A fairly slow half hour drive once you leave the highway, and was drizzling low down, but temps finally nudged below zero a little before getting to the top of the ridge.  Only 3 lifts here but enough variety to keep amused for a few hours.  Did a run down Emmons Ridge for a warmup – very nice up top but getting a little wetter at the bottom.  Very slow old double gave you about 10 minutes to survey the scene on the way back up.  Nice open slightly treed slope looked very appealing so headed off the groomed into that.  Strange snow and hard to describe accurately. Soft slightly damp dense powder that almost had a crust – quite nice when you got moving and kept momentum, and could find some fairly clean lines so no complaining.

Mid station loading meant you could shorten the ride back up so did pretty much the same again.  Clouded in at the top but visibility improved as you headed down.  Back to the resort centre – which actually sits at the TOP of the mountain – for elevenses.  Somewhat of a comedown after the Whitefish menu – apart from Chilli, all options revolved around fries, cheese or a combination thereof.  Headed over to Crystal – the other main lift – for a couple of runs – a most enjoyable ungroomed then groomed West Ridge then an ungroomed Independance Park – probably the best run of the day.  

Back to Thunderhead for a couple more runs – the ungroomed was getting a little heavier and three days of teles at Whitefish were starting to take their toll on the legs, so called it quits about 1.30.  Didn’t need to ski a whole day when a lift ticket was only $42.  Had a few flurries during the day – didn’t amount to much but at least there was no r@!n.

Back down to Hwy 93 then headed back toward Missoula.  Have had a few harrowing drives on the descent to I-90 in the past but with temps today well above freezing it was quite benign.  Was checked into the motel by 5pm and started trying to figure out how to spend the final week.  Tomorrow looks quite warm and wet so might be in for a rest day unless things take a turn for the cooler.

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