Larry Fox must have fallen on his head last time he skied Wintergreen or Liberty {Weekend, Nov. 24}. Or maybe he doesn't actually ski, but just sits around the lounge doodling up silly stories for your paper.

At first, I thought his article "Make Mine Mid-Atlantic" was tongue-in-cheek, but by the third paragraph I realized he was dead serious. He would actually waste his time and money on Virginia, Maryland or West Virginia skiing rather than do the real thing in Colorado or Utah.

Even Iowa has more reliable skiing than the likes of Liberty, Seven Springs and Massanutten. Lest my credentials be questioned, I skied those places for 20 years before leaving the D.C. area -- but only to keep my skis from gathering dust between trips west.

The serious skier needs at least one or two weeks out of the season in a place where he or she can be truly challenged. That means 10,000 feet up with mile-long runs where intermediate skiing surpasses so-called expert runs within two or three hours of hard driving from Washington -- unless you consider coping with icy inclines, hordes of amateurs spread-eagled in your path and little but grainy machine-made snow a challenge.

Sure, you have to put out some bucks and weather some inconveniences to get to Vail or Heavenly, but a week in the West is not much more expensive than seven days at Wintergreen.

For ambience, Fox recommended the Homestead. Last time I priced the Homestead, I figured I could take to the French Alps for less. That was a few years ago. And as for scenery, I would trade a view of a Massanutten sunset any day for a shot of the Rockies from the top of one of them -- say, 12,000 feet up. The best thing you can say for the local areas is that if you can ski them with all the crud and crush, you can ski anywhere.

-- William A. Harper