Whitefish Mountain Resort loosened restrictions on its uphill traffic policy instituted last February. The policy, which received vocal opposition from some, limited uphill hiking in winter to operational hours and one lane on Toni Matt ski run.

Increasing numbers of snowshoers and skiers led to dangerous encounters with grooming machines, winch cables, and pressurized snowmaking lines. The resort took comments on the policy last winter with the intention of reviewing it for possible revision for this winter.

"For the most part, people were very respectful of the policy," Chester Powell, Director of Mountain Operations, told Onthesnow.com. "It was a wake up call, and hikers became self-policing. They realized they could jeopardize their whole ability to hike uphill."

Most of the public comments asked for evening access. Changes in the policy for this winter include a second eastern route to the summit, evening access until 7 p.m., preseason hiking permitted with no defined routes, and the east route available for 14 days after the season closes. Flathead National Forest, which owns land leased by the resort, issued a special order prohibiting skiers and hikers from approaching within 100 yards of grooming machines and snowmaking equipment.

Most of the uphill hikers tend to be current and past passholders who hike for exercise. More advanced and lighter weight randonee gear has led to an upsurge in hikers on the slopes.

Skiers, snowboarders, and uphill hikers have until Sept. 30 to purchase season passes at sale rates. Adult passes are available for $550. Senior, teen, and junior passes are discounted, too. Season pass rates increase by $91-280 after Sept. 30. Passes may be ordered online, by mail, or by phone.

More information. Or call 406-862-2900.