Op-Ed: Is Skiing on “Big Mountain” Really that Great?

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Having spent a minimum of 500 days skiing on “The Big Mountain” I can assure you it’s NOT always that “great.”

Let me back up a bit.

Back in the day when I skied (like back in the ’70s and ’80s) on what was called “The Big Mountain” and (not what is currently entitled) “Whitefish Mountain Resort” we were hardcore. Also for those who don’t know it’s STILL “The Big Mountain” because Whitefish Mountain Resort just leases the actual mountain (ski hill) from the USFS-United States Forest Service so the name never did change. (Just a tidbit there for you newcomers).

Back to the actual skiing part.

Let me tell you that skiing on “The Big Mountain” was NOT the utopia the recent ski magazines want you to believe.

At least half of my childhood and early adulthood (up there) was spent skiing in the cold, bitter cold, and fog. Sun Valley it is not. And when I did finally ski in Sun Valley I was shocked at the incredible amount of actual sun there was. Many a man could be seen on Big Mountain with long icicles hanging off their beards, eyebrows and nose hairs.

I have experienced literal vertigo on ‘The Big Fun’ (which is what we called Big Mountain back in the olden days) when I was growing up. Skiing in the fog (which happens often on that mountain) makes it so you can’t even see your own feet or the person skiing right next to you. It is easy to fall in the fog and falling isn’t fun. But they don’t tell you that when you’re buying your season pass which is just shy of $1000 now.

There were many times it was rocky and dirt and twigs and rocks would appear on the slope. And many times it was sheer ICE where we just prayed for dear life that we’d survive.

Sure there were the powder days where we wore longggg skis through the trees and were dumb and didn’t wear helmets (what were we thinking)? And yes spring skiing could be a blast IF you didn’t fall in a slush hole or go from ice to slush to ice to slush on the jeep trails.

We were crazy.

We wore jean shorts on spring days with tank tops (and got the sunburn of our lives) and regular jeans in the winter. They would be stiff as boards and the snow would cling and cluster up to our knees but hey-we were cool. And heavens knows skiing was about being and looking cool.

It was terrifying the first time I encountered my first “snowboarder” on “My Mountain.”

“What on earth was THAT??” (I thought to myself as this thing whirled past and almost hit me). That was a frightening experience no doubt.

But my skiing days are over. I’m old. (Well, not that old but I broke my arm just existing a few years back so skiing is most definitely out of the picture for this ‘ole mare.’)

I’ve become one of “them.” You know those Montanans who fly to Arizona and stay for months on end floating in a pool while gazing at chemtrails overhead and listening to the thump of loud cars cruising by?

Did I love skiing growing up? YES, yes I did. But I glamourized it. I left school half days (even with my teachers) and split and went skiing. But looking back it wasn’t easy. Skiing on THAT Mountain was WORK. The terrain is not easy and not for the faint at heart. The skies aren’t clear that often and the conditions can be treacherous. I learned this when I lived in Lake Tahoe for several years as an adult where it’s always sunny and way easier a task.

And I tell people “Back in the day when I used to ski on Big Mountain” it was $80 bucks.

As I’ve shared that with folks their reply was- “Wow that’s expensive.” It was then I realized they thought I meant per day.

“No I remarked, it was $80 bucks a YEAR. Which meant I spent about $1.50 every time I skied.

Those were the days.

Would I recommend skiing up there now and for the price? Let’s just say I would rather be sucking on my Izzi in a pool in Arizona.

(Publishers Note: This op-ed was written by ME because yes back in the day I was “Queen of the Hill” on “My Mountain.” 🙂

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