Spot to Ski gives way this week to a report on Washington's Birthday doings at ski spots across the nation
There is no way of making a head count of the mobs that turned out over the three-day Washington's Birthday weekend, but from the gleeful hand-rubbing of resort owners, it is obvious that the 22nd of February is becoming as much the day of the skier as it is the day of our nation's founder.
Take the state of Washington. By Friday night, Feb. 22, a good 2,000 skiers had visited Stevens Pass. The Forest Service Lodge was bulging to the rafters. So was every other livable building in the area; and the Seattle Ski Club dormitory, with 150 sleepers taking up every bed in the house, began stacking latecomers on the floor. On Saturday, however, the rain came down in buckets. The Seattleites started home. But on gloomy Sunday, with the mountain a mess of slush and crust, back on the slopes stood several hundred stalwarts, swinging down the trails, happy in the knowledge they hadn't let old George down.
In northern California, the resort owners got a blizzard instead of a rain squall; and Alex Cushing, proprietor of Squaw Valley, reported riding up on the lift with a man who was cheerfully unconcerned with the lack of room at the lodge because he had already dug a slit trench in a Sierra snowdrift for himself and his sleeping bag.
Farther south at Mammoth Mountain, Skimeister Dave McCoy and his wife gazed in awe at the three miles of parked cars, at the lunch-counter crowds three deep around every stool, at the hordes on the lower slopes. They concluded that they had "never seen anything like it before." Neither had Sepp Ruschp in Vermont, where Stowe's chair lifts and T bars logged a record 68,000 trips. And neither had Walter Schoenknecht at Mt. Snow, where some 18,000 skiers poured half a million dollars into the pockets of innkeepers.
It remained for the rugged Westerners, however, to produce the ultimate in mobs and masochism. At Brighton, outside Salt Lake City, 2,000 skiers dared the 28-mile drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon without snow tires. For three hours the canyon echoed to a cacophony of blowing horns, shrieking tires, and howling motorists that may never be duplicated. Were the skiers downhearted? No. They finally made it to Brighton by noon, skied out the day, sat out a Saturday blizzard and came back 2,400 strong on Sunday.
Finally, there was the avalanche of Texans that struck the Santa Fe Ski Basin. Every rental ski in town was snapped up by midafternoon, but so eager were the Texans that they grabbed up 15 pairs of snowshoes that Manager Buzz Bainbridge keeps on hand for maintenance work. Instructors were swamped by Texas pupils who "used to fit their skis onto cowboy boots and come bashing over the hillsides so we didn't know where to hide"; but now, apparently, they were eager to learn.
"It was the biggest spread we've ever had," said Bainbridge, toting up the weekend profits. "The place looked like a meat market just before closing time."
AS OF MARCH 2
Nothing is as changeable as the weather, so be sure to phone resorts for latest reports