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.