SI Vault
 
WINTER WASSAILLAND
Horace Sutton
January 24, 1955
From snowplanes in Wyoming to buffalo-skin parties in the Laurentians, resorts this year are offering skiers more than ever before—including even skiing
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
January 24, 1955

Winter Wassailland

From snowplanes in Wyoming to buffalo-skin parties in the Laurentians, resorts this year are offering skiers more than ever before—including even skiing

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

The gentleman across the page is surveying the metropolis of Jackson Hole which looks peaceful enough from here. Decorum, however, departs with the summer tourists, and once the white is on the ground, the woolly Wyoming citizens haul out their snow planes, wingless, wintery counterparts of the Florida air boat that buzz over the snow banks at better than 60 m.p.h. What you can do in a snow plane is tour Yellowstone Park after the roads are closed, play follow the leader, or chase coyotes. Other sports, meanwhile, buzz up to Snake River and snowshoe along the banks to cast flies in the fast-running water for whitefish. Less dauntless types insist you can find all the whitefish a man could desire in Lindy's window, but the Wyoming winter brand strike hard and wiggle strenuously, trying to stay not only alive but warm. If you clean them as they are landed they won't freeze solid. If you aren't a fish, better carry a flask.

Western Air Lines will fetch you to Jackson Hole via Salt Lake City, or the Union Pacific runs as near as Victor, Idaho, which is as near as 26 miles. A ski lift, in case you are a run-of-the-mill winter sportsman, takes off from the end of a street in Jackson. There's a small hotel called the Wort in town which suffers an excellent reputation, has a bar embedded with $1,600 worth of silver dollars, and you'll break a nail before you'll reduce the figure.

For anyone who wants to ride the slats by day and hit the skids at night there is skiing in the Reno Snow Bowl and the Las Vegas roulette bowl, just a short schuss from the gaming tables. Reno's Snow Bowl spreads north of Lake Tahoe and covers Mount Rose Bowl and Slide Mountain, 10,775 feet and 9,720 feet respectively. It snowed in downtown Las Vegas when I was out there a few days back, causing the local publicity department to issue a special pronunciamento headed "We Goofed." Actually, the snow went all but unnoticed since very few visitors out there ever get outdoors.

Winter sports are somewhat more conventional over at Sun Valley, probably the only ski resort in the world where you are advised to bring a bathing suit. After a day making sitzmarks on the surrounding Sawtooth Mountains, skiers can soak out the kinks in a pair of outdoor pools, screened from the winds and heated to bathtub temperature. The Valley also fends off frostbite with a string of Hot Potato Huts (this is Idaho), and bowls of chili served at the Roundhouse on the shoulder of Baldy Mountain, 3,000 feet above the valley floor. The bars serve Gl�hwein, hot and spiced, in porcelain mugs, and if that doesn't do it, try a Schuss-boomer's Delight, guaranteed to thaw out the Abominable Snowman.

There is bowling, dancing, movies, and schussboomer-imbibing after dark right at the main cantonment, but adventurers can take out by sleigh for a two-mile drive to Trail Creek Cabin. For five fish in supplement of the regular daily tab, there is a Basque dinner, with wine, song, and general wassail.

Much of the same type of excursion is run off in the snow banks of the Laurentian Mountains where you can ski in French without having to hightail it for Chamonix. Once a week, the Laurentide Inn at Ste. Agathe des Montes rents a hilltop chalet, covers the floor with buffalo hides, and invites the whole guest list over for a French-Canadian bust-up. Shackled to a pair of webs, or wrapped in muk-luks, you can crunch across the drifts, guided by the light of the great white Mazda cross that shines down on the Lac des Sables.

A fare of local ballast includes soupe aux pots � I'onion, followed by tourti�re or local meat pie, followed by ragout de boulettes, followed by a great urge to collapse among the buffalo hides until Shrove Tuesday. Four dozen choruses of Alouette! act like artificial respiration. If that doesn't wake you, they'll send you down the mountain on a toboggan.

1