More and more Midwesterners in search of an inexpensive family winter vacation have been turning each year to Big Mountain outside Whitefish, Mont. A medium-size area with a reputation for spontaneous hospitality, Big Mountain offers uncrowded skiing and a relaxed atmosphere for kids and grownups alike. The electric Constam T bar easily handles the crowd, even on weekends, and takes skiers 3,000 feet to the top of the main spur in fast time. Widest of the network of trails leading down to the base is the open-slope Hell Roaring run for intermediates. Experts can take six Sno-Cat rides a day up to Big Mountain summit to run the two miles of ingenious problems on the Toni Matt or take the speedy schusses of the three-mile Langley Run. The ski school is informal and classes are held to small groups. Dope Slope is an ideal beginners' hill, with just enough rise to keep classes moving. After-ski life at the Big Mountain Chalet consists mainly of a late afternoon drink at the bar, a family-style dinner and then singing and other homemade entertainment in the game room. The thriftiest ski week in the Northwest is the Chalet's $88 package that takes care of lift tickets, food and lodging for a week. The nearby Big Mountain Lodge has dormitory rooms, and there are plenty of motels in nearby Whitefish. The Great Northern Railway runs from Chicago in 28 hours, costs $77.45 for coach round trip. Northwest Orient Airlines flies there and back for $186.
SKIING ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Be sure to check resorts for latest condition changes
UP—inches of snow on upper slopes and trails LO—inches of snow on lower slopes and trails CR—crowd last Saturday SN—inches of snow last week
Big Mountain, Mont.: All trails and slopes had fine snow last week. Best skiing on new Hell Roaring run. Many skiers wearing turtle-neck T shirts, stretch pants and racing gloves with heavy knuckle padding. Big Mountain Chalet booked through holidays, but reservations available in Whitefish motels. UP 48, LO 24, SN 12, CR 200.
Arapahoe Basin, Colo.: Fair to good last week. More than a thousand skiers learning rudiments of Willy Schaeffler shortswing system (see page 60) each weekend in the Rocky Mountain News free ski school. UP 28, LO 30, CR 700.
Alta, Utah: Best early snow cover in years. Area lodges filled solid through New Year's, and rooms getting scarce for later weekends, but plenty of space still available in Salt Lake City. UP 50, LO 40, SN 12.
Brighton, Utah: All trails open. Skiing excellent. Slopes crowded Saturday, with pupils signed up for free lessons by 50 Deseret News instructors. Dancing three nights a week in area's recreation room. Nearest room reservations at Salt Lake. UP 45, LO 36, SN 8, CR 3,000.
Snow Basin, Utah: All runs excellent last week except Wildcat, closed for lack of snow. Skiers favoring long thongs with safety front throw. UP 42, LO 22, SN 10.
Sun Valley, Idaho: Opens for skiing Dec. 20. More than 100 ski coaches at clinic starting Dec. 15. UP 18, LO 12.
Aspen, Colo.: Excellent. Bell double chair serving new Copper Trail opened Dec. 7. Nearest accomodations from Dec. 26 till New Year's at Glenwood Springs. UP 42, LO 18, SN 12.
Taos, N. Mex.: Fine powder skiing last week. Texans have all but filled Hondo Lodge at area. UP 63, LO 32, SN 15.
Other Spots: Loveland, Colo.: UP 16, LO 11, CR 700. Steamboat Springs, Colo.: Poor to fair last week. Climax, Colo.: Fair. Operates weekends only. UP 7. Copper Hill, Colo.: Fair. UP 10. Grand Mesa, Colo.: Excellent. UP 46, LO 20. Pikes Peak, Colo.: Fair. Weekends only. UP 18.
Mt. Baker, Wash.: Skiing fair last week on wet, heavy snow. Only Austin Pass two open. Other tows will start this week. UP 40, LO 36, SN 8.
Snoqualmie, Wash.: Damp drizzle on opening day last week. Two thousand ski school students will be at area this year, arriving in fleet of 65 buses. Buzz Fiorini school opens Dec. 15, others by Jan. 4. UP 24, LO 16, SN 16.
Mt. Rainier, Wash.: Some rock still showing last week at Cayuse Pass. Beginner and intermediate tows operating. LO 45, CR 200. At Paradise LO 60, CR 400.
Mt. Hood, Ore.: At Timberline wet snow last week, skiing fair, some rocks showing. Timberline Lodge operating daily after Dec. 15, some rooms still available for Dec. 20-26 and after Jan. 1. UP 40, SN 12. No skiing at Government Camp last weekend.
Squaw Valley, Calif.: Only skiing was on icy slopes in Third and Fourth bowls.
Heavenly Valley, Calif.: Skiing at top rope tow only. Stein Eriksen and five-man ski school still waiting for snow.
Mt. Rose Summit, Calif.: Two rope tows operating last weekend.
Big Bear Lake, Calif.: Skiing fair. Family lift ticket lets three ride all day for $10, $1 each additional member. LO 12, UP 10.
Mammoth Mt., Calif.: Skiing going into seventh week here. Conditions excellent. Reservations available at Bishop. SN 16.
Other Spots: Mt. Temple, Alta.: Fair cover, scheduled to open Dec. 15-20. Mt. Norquay, Alta.: Skiing on practice slope only. Mt. Baldy, Calif.: Skiing poor. Some skiing on Emile's Run. CR 300.
Telemark, Wis.: Skiing fair, Holiday reservations filling fast. Strong emphasis on Wedeln noted among instructors at Telemark teaching clinic. UP 2, LO 6, CR 125.
Sheltered Valley, Wis.: More snow needed. UP 10, LO 10, CR 116.
Boyne Mt., Mich.: Skiing good on machine-made snow. New double chair operating. UP 24, LO 24.
Brule Mt., Mich.: Skiing good on all slopes last weekend. Iron Inn drawing big crowds for after-ski bar. Italian meals and dancing. UP 8, LO 6, CR 225.
Snow Ridge, N.Y.: Rain last weekend cut into skiing, but Pomalift expected to operate daily.
Stowe, Vt.: Fair skiing on Toll Road only. Single chair ran last weekend, is now scheduled to run weekdays as well. Newly cut Smugglers Trail on Spruce Peak may become best intermediate run on mountain. State has resurfaced mountain road with special nonskid compound put on Harlow Hill.
Mt. Snow, Vt.: No skiing last weekend. Latest double chair now ready. New 3,000-foot trail on North Slope will give the mountain a tough expert run.
Cannon Mt., N.H.: No skiing last weekend. New bus service will meet skiers off Boston train at Plymouth, return Sunday.
Belknap, N.H.: Poor skiing last week, none last weekend. New power unit on T bar will double capacity.
Wildcat, N.H.: Insufficient cover. Gondola cars, nine feet high, seven feet wide, arrived for installation on new lift scheduled to operate Jan. 15.
Mt. Graylock, Mass.: For those willing to carry skis up. Rockwell road offered three miles of fair running last weekend.
Other Spots: Lac Beauport, Que.: Rain last weekend, snow forecast. UP 12, LO 7. Mt. Tremblant. Que.: Snow cover starting to come in last weekend. Reservations getting tight Mittersill, N.H.: Will have artificial snow next weekend if temperatures stay below freezing. Black Mt., N.H.: Skiing poor, expect to have artificial snow cover this weekend. UP 4.
EXPERTS CLIMB DEEP POWDER ON BIG MOUNTAIN'S LONG RUNS