Big Mountain (Whitefish)

August 26, 2019


Whitefish, MT

The official name of the highest summit near Whitefish ski resort is “Big Mountain”, even though these peaks are rather just large hills. The summit does offer some nice views of the west side of Glacier National Park, and the flat ground of Whitefish and Kalispell to the south. Adam and I decided to pay 17 dollars and take the chairlift to the false summit and walk the last bits to the highest point, on what’s supposed to be the only rest day in between Mt. Stimson and Mt. Cleveland. The hike would require over 600 m elevation gain that we figured would be “too much”.

Big Mountain by chairlift in Whitefish resort. GPX DL

The decision was spontaneous in the afternoon and we had to rush a bit in order to beat the closing time at 5:30 pm. We made to the ski resort at just after 4:30 pm and purchased the sightseeing tickets. It wasn’t my first time taking a chairlift or tramway to bag a peak. This might considered as “cheating” by most, but my understanding of peak-bagging is to reach the summits by any mean. I don’t care about how I get there, as long as I get there, so using mechanical support is perfectly acceptable. The ride on the chairlift was actually very scenic because we were “lifted” above the trees.

The bottom of “Big Mountain Express”

Up we went on the chairlift…

Looking back towards Whitefish Lake and the plain

Doris Mountain in the distance

About halfway up the chairlift, looking ahead

The summit of Big Mountain appears to have lots of radio structures

Almost arrived at the upper station

At the upper station we briefly joined the hordes of tourists to check out a viewpoint to get some shots of Mt. Stimson, and then quickly hiked out of the ski resort boundary. On the way up to the true summit we just followed the service roads, but on the way down we found a trail running along the ridge so took a short-cut. The ascent took no more than 20 minutes of round trip.

The rest of Whitefish Range from the tourists’ viewing platform

Adam walking the service roads towards the true summit

Me on the summit of Big Mountain

Adam hiking down the ridge directly back towards the resort

More about the hiking down. The ridge was more scenic than the road

A view towards the giants in Glacier National Park to the east

Partial Panorama from the upper chairlift station. Click to view large size.

A zoomed-in view of Mt. Cleveland revealed some fresh snow on the summit

Kintla Peak one of the three P4K in the park

The west face of Mt. Stimson

Mt. St. Nicholas isn’t a tall summit but is definitely an eye-catching one

Mt. Jackson is one of the six 11,000ers in Glacier National Park

The ride down was uneventful and then we went straight for a free campground near a river. Adam had spotted that site on the Google satellite images and it turned out to be much better than some official campsites. Connor would join us later that evening to prepare for Mt. Merritt and Mt. Cleveland in the following few days.

Taking the chairlift down with Whitefish Lake in view

A sideways view towards the distance Doris Mountain area

This was where we camped at that night.