[R46R, Whitefish Mountain Resort] in the northwest corner of Montana opened last season with two new lifts, a new access road up to the resort, and the new daylodge. The resort concentrated for this year on improving its slopes and visitor experience--all in preparation for opening day Dec. 6.

"Last year, we had a new road, lifts, and building," spokesperson Donnie Clapp told OnTheSnow.com. "We spent the first part of the winter season working out all the kinks. This year, we can focus on running the resort."

Summer crews replaced the Chair 2 cable for less vibration and brushed out slopes from Langley through Hogans and into Elkweed--all runs that had not been pruned for nearly two decades. The resort also wrapped up work on replacing a leaky snowmaking pipe connected to Rainbow Pond just in time to move the guns into place to blow snow.

First-time visitors will also find more assistance in getting around the mountain this winter. New yellow signs will lead skiers and riders down the easiest trails from the tops of Chair 1 and 2. New large mountain map signs are also being installed at the top of Chair 7 and between the bottom of Chairs 1 and 2.

Crews also designed a new route to the Fill Slope - nicknamed the Anthill for clustering skiers up before dispersing them across the mountain. The easier route will lead tentative skiers and snowboarders from the summit down Gray Wolf toward Black Bear and then cut back onto Fill Slope. The ski patrol may also start spreading pine bough clippings on the snow during thick foggy days to aid visibility. 

"We're really excited," said Clapp, looking forward to opening day. "We want to turn this resort into a well-oiled machine."