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Summit House on Whitefish Mountain Resort

The Summit House at Whitefish Mountain Resort is next on the list for updates at the ski area. The lodge sits at the top of Big Mountain, at an elevation of 6,817 feet.

WHITEFISH – After building a new chairlift and terrain, and renovating the Base Lodge over the past two summers, Whitefish Mountain Resort has more big plans for this summer.

It wants to embark on a $1.2 million improvement in facilities located at the summit of the mountain.

The proposal depends on the approval of the U.S. Forest Service, which is accepting public comment on it via the Flathead National Forest through May 1.

The resort wants to make $1 million in improvements to the Summit House, the restaurant, bar and gift shop located at the top of Chair 1, including the addition of a mezzanine level that would add 1,700 square feet and approximately 150 seats.

A new ski patrol headquarters, and the drilling of a redundant well and re-trenching of a water pipe, are also part of the proposal.

“I’m so pleased that our owners continue to support the improvement of our resort infrastructure, considering we just finished two years of rather large-scale projects,” resort manager Dan Graves said. “Even after the roller-coaster season we’re completing, it’s very gratifying to be able to tell our guests that there are more improvements to come.”

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The Summit House renovation would include putting a new façade on the exterior, and adding restrooms to the main floor.

Because of the short building season at the top of the mountain, which is nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, construction could take two to three years, according to a scoping letter by District Ranger Lisa Timchak.

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The schedule calls for crews to demolish the current entry porch, pour new foundation walls, and construct a new entryway, restrooms and mezzanine while demolishing part of the deck this summer.

In 2016, they would demolish the rest of the deck, pour new foundation walls for the lodge extension and build walls and a roof. The interior would be completed in the summer of 2017 unless time and weather conditions allow it to be finished in 2016.

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The current ski patrol headquarters, a small (175-square-foot) log cabin that has been at the summit for decades and is no longer weather-tight, also lacks running water and restroom facilities, “which are essential when visitors are treated for minor injuries,” according to Timchak’s letter. “Currently, patrol staff escorts customers through the dining room in the Summit House to the restrooms in the basement.”

The new headquarters would be a two-story, 800-square-foot structure with indoor plumbing, a patient treatment area and a private office for the ski patrol manager. The exterior would be coordinated with the new façade of the Summit House.

The ski patrol headquarters would be built this summer.

Timchak’s scoping letter also says the current well at the summit is approximately 25 years old and “becoming less reliable,” and the water line between the Summit House and maintenance shop freezes every winter.

The proposed redundant well “would ensure uninterrupted water supply to the Summit House and patrol headquarters during times the current well is unavailable due to maintenance or repair,” she said. The water pipe, meantime, would be re-trenched and set below the frost line and insulate above the water line so it is no longer impacted by winter temperatures.

The Summit House was last remodeled and expanded in 1989.

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