The first ski you should buy is one that you'll feel good on 95% of the time at Greek Peak. This will be a ski for hardpack, but it also will be absolutely fine in up to several inches of new snow. If you buy such a ski, you now probably have 19 skiing days out of 20 covered.
Typically, such a hard snow ski will be shorter, more deeply sidecut, and more firm-flexing than what you would want on a ski for soft snow days.
On those rare days when its *really* dumping, simply rent a wider softer ski, at least until you can find one at a reasonable price. Keep your eye out for a used fatty at swaps, in the consignment racks, on ebay, as you are talking to people in the business, here on Epic, etc. Fatties appear for sale much more often than you might think. For example, a week ago (ie, in the middle of August), I just saw an old but mint condition Atomic Helistar in the used rack of a local store for something like $100 with bindings.
Now, you could, of course, join the rest of the skiing public in their eternal quest to try to find the ultimate compromise mid-fat. While this might give you better soft snow performance, if you go this route, you will be always skiing around on something that is just a tad wider, longer, softer, and slower than you really want on your feet 95% of the time. Its an annoyance to some people, its a blessing to others. However, I should point out that this eternal quest for exactly the perfect compromise midfat is what accounts for many sales to advanced skiers and makes the ski mfgrs *very* happy, so my recommendation is to acknowledge right from the start that you probably need 2 pairs, otherwise you will start with a midfat, but then eventually still wind up buying specialized hard and soft snow skis for a total of three skis.
Just another perspective on this problem.
Tom / PM
PS - Just so people don't think I'm completely down on midfats, its just that I don't think their real forte is on 760 ft high eastern mountains where the snow at the top is almost identical to the snow at the bottom. Rather, I think where they really come into their own is on mts with big vert, where the snow at the top is nothing like what is at the bottom, there are lots of little microenvironments (powder pockets, wind slab, slop near the base, etc.), and most importantly, you don't have a personal ski caddy following you around - grin.[ August 15, 2002, 11:46 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]