SnoCast: Stormy Pattern Continues Out West

Snowbird_tw_113022

A busy weather week continues nation-wide with a fast storm pattern. We'll see multiple waves of snow out West, and changeable conditions in the East heading into the first weekend of December. Let's dig into this week's SnoCast.

Continue reading
  346 Hits

Several New Lifts Added At Midwest Ski Areas

Boyne-Mountain-six-seat-high-speed-chairlift

Four Heartland ski resorts made some significant improvements adding new chairlifts for the coming season. Most were to improve access to already existing areas of the ski hills, and one was to create more area and add new trails.

Michigan's Boyne Mountain will have the Midwest's first eight-seat, high-speed lift in operation this winter for their Disciples Ridge replacing two older slower lifts. It will dramatically change that area. For some time it has offered some of the best terrain on the Mountain from easy to advanced, but it was way under utilized. It wasn't easy to get over there, and the lifts were very slow cutting down on slope time. All of that will change with new access and this new lift. It will be like discovering a whole new area. And, for those who say it's unneeded in the Midwest you know little about Heartland skiing and riding.

Caberfae Peaks, also in Michigan, has added a new triple chair this past summer replacing an old double that only went half way up the ski hill. The new lift will unload on a new third Peak opening up more terrain including a new trail and easier access to their 25-acre backcountry area. It will increase uphill capacity and dramatically decrease the mid-mountain congestion on the popular first Peak terrain.

In Ohio Boston Mills/Brandywine ski area, located between Cleveland and Akron, have replaced a couple of old chairlifts with quad chairlifts that will greatly increase uphill efficiency at both locations. They replaced a double on the Boston Mills slopes and a triple at Brandywine. The two Vail ski areas, which sit across a small valley from each other, operate as one area sharing a driveway entrance. Located approximately five minutes apart by car lift tickets and season passes are valid at both.

Searchmont Mountain has a new main triple chairlift that will be operational this winter, which will greatly enhance their uphill capacity. The 703-foot vertical mountain, located just north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is popular with Great Lakes skiers and riders from Michigan.

  161 Hits

Skiing Will Be Available In Upper Midwest For Thanksgiving Holidays

Chestnut-Mountain-Facebook-image_1200x800

Recent snow and cold weather are providing an early start to the Heartlands ski season, which is a nice departure from last year when ski areas mostly remained closed over Thanksgiving weekend and had a rough start even in December making enough snow to be fully open over the Christmas holidays.

An early arrival of winter and temperatures cold enough for snowmaking across the upper Midwest are going to allow some ski areas to be open for the Thanksgiving holidays. Minnesota will be offering the most openings with a few in northern Wisconsin and a couple in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Lower Peninsula ski areas at this point have not announced opening dates, but some have already fired up the snowmaking and hopefully that will come soon.

A couple of ski areas, Wild Mountain in Minnesota and nearby Trollhaugen across the border in Wisconsin have already opened for the season. Afton Alps, Powder Ridge, Andes Towers Hills and Lutsen Mountains are planning on being open this weekend Nov. 18 and 19. Buck Hill is opening on Nov. 22, with Spirit Mountain and Giants Ridge scheduled Nov. 25.

A couple of other Wisconsin ski areas, Cascade Mountain and Christie Mountain are planning on opening over Thanksgiving weekend.

 n the Wolverine State's UP both Snowriver Mountain Resort and Ski Brule are planning to open this coming weekend, Nov. 19, for the season.

Huff Hills Ski Area, located near Bismarck in North Dakota, is opening for the season on Nov. 20, which will mark their earliest opening ever in the 30 years it has been a ski area. Illinois' Chestnut Mountain plans to open Nov. 26, also one of their earliest openings.

In early season it's always a good idea to check the ski area for conditions before making a long drive. Weather can change in just a few days. You can also log onto Snoountry Snow Reports for an up to date review of what's open and conditions.

 

  254 Hits

Mount Bohemia Season Pass Deal One Of The Best In Midwest

Mount-Bohemia-powder-and-views-Facebook

Mount Bohemia, located on the witch-like finger of Michigan's UP, offers one of the best early season pass sales in the Midwest. The $99 pass sale takes place for only a little over a week from Nov. 23 through December 3, and the only way you will be able to ski or ride Saturdays throughout the season is with a season pass.

Bohemia, which the locals call Boho, is an anomaly for the Heartland. A big vertical drop for the Great Lakes Region, 900 feet with cliffs, chutes, trees, steep drops and all natural snow. They have no snowmaking, and don't do any grooming. Bohemia claims all expert terrain and, they aren't exaggerating. The terrain is typical of what you find out west in the backcountry. There is nothing else even remotely like it mid-continent. Two chairlifts whisk you back to the top to find another line through the trees, boulders and cliff drops spread out over 600 acres. Beginners aren’t allowed and wouldn’t enjoy it anyway. It also offers cat-served skiing on it's sister Voodoo Mountain, which is available on Wednesday and Saturday during the season.

The powdery, Colorado-like, lake effect snow, is a key ingredient for backcountry skiing. Bohemia has appeared among the top four resort's of Powder Magazine's annual reader poll for the best powder skiing in North America, It's currently ranked among the top four ski resorts in USA Today's annual reader vote for North America's best ski resorts, which shows its appeal.

“Mount Bohemia is one of the premier places for tree skiing in North America. With an abundant snowfall of close to 300 inches a year and acres of tree skiing Bohemia has the perfect set up for great inbounds back country skiing,” according to Powder.

Daily lift tickets will be $87 this season, which must be bought online ahead of arrival. They offer a variety of lodging, which includes trailside cabins and yurts, a marina cabin on lake Lac Labelle, a hostel, and they even allow camping in the parking lot for a fee.

  393 Hits

New Multi Resort Pass For Great Lakes Skiers And Riders

Searchmont-Resort-Facebook

Michigan based Wisconsin Resorts that owns six Heartland ski areas scattered around the Great Lakes is offering a new season pass good at all six ski areas. It owns Pine Knob, Mt. Holly, Alpine Valley Ski Area and Bittersweet, all in southern Michigan, Alpine Valley Resort in southern Wisconsin, and Searchmont, just across the border in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

If you like to experience different ski areas throughout the season, which many skiers and riders enjoy, it's a nice deal. You only have to visit one of the ski area websites to purchase a season pass, and you are good at all six Wisconsin Resorts' locations.

The cost for an adult pass is $761 through the end of November. A daily lift ticket at any of the ski areas will be $80 this season. A kid's pass is $595 and a senior pass (65+) is $693. Kids and seniors daily lift tickets are also $80 this season. Do the math. If you were to ski just 10 times during the season at just one of the areas you will spend more than the cost of a season pass. The choice to be able to visit all six ski areas, including Searchmont, one of the largest ski resorts around the Great Lakes that's just five hours north of Detroit, is a pretty sweet deal. It offers you lots of choices.

Alpine Valley, Michigan, close to the Knob and Holly, offers a fine trio of ski areas in the Detroit burbs for Michigan skiers and Bittersweet is not far away. It's also enticing for snowsports enthusiasts in the southern part of the Badger State, Chicagoland, and northern Indiana for weekend road trips during the season. Remember the offer is only good through the end of the month and prices will be going up in December.

Located in the rugged, rocky Canadian Shield, Searchmont, with a 750-foot vertical, 21 trails and terrain parks offers a true mountain feel. It's popular with many Michigan and Wisconsin skiers and riders for weekend trips to experience the Shield's mountainous terrain.

  329 Hits

Midwest Ski Associations Offer Grade School Kids Ski Passes

Mt-Brighton-skiing-family

The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and Minnesota Ski Areas Association (MNSAA) offer passport programs allowing elementary age kids the chance to try skiing and snowboarding for free. In Michigan it covers both fourth and fifth graders, and Minnesota’s program covers fourth graders.

Michigan’s Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport program offers students’ three free lift tickets at 29 participating ski areas scattered throughout the state and additional discounts on the slopes and at participating ski shops. Families obtain a Passport App for their students that gives them up to three free lift tickets or trail passes at participating ski areas. MSIA charges $30 for the passport; $25 covers operating expenses and $5 goes to a new charitable organization Misnow that helps get underprivileged kids out on our slopes & trails in the winter.

The Passport is an app to download on your phone, making it contactless at the lift ticket window. Once the application is complete, you will receive an email with instructions on how to download the app. You can also show proof of grade at a participating ski shop and gain instant access to the Cold is Cool App. The Passport also includes a coupon for 20% off a helmet purchase and $20 off the purchase of $100 at participating ski shops across the state. Some ski areas have also included coupons for equipment rental and free or discounted lessons.

All Minnesota ski areas are participating this season. The cost of the MNSAA Passport is $34.95, which includes tax, payment processing fee and administrative costs of program. Your fourth grader receives an e-pass which includes a minimum of two free lift tickets for the passport holder at each Minnesota ski area. Some offer more than the minimum of two passes. Additional information on program offerings by area and a link to more details at each member area is provided on the website.

Kudos to the associations. It bodes well for the future of Heartland snowsports programs.

  281 Hits

Midwest Ski Season Openings Slated For November

Ski-Brule-fresh-snow-Facebook

Three ski areas in the Midwest, Wild Mountain and Andes Tower Hills, Minnesota, and Trollhaugen in western Wisconsin, were able to open limited terrain last week. Four other ski resorts, one each in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and two in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP) have planned openings in the next three weeks. The Heartland ski season is underway.

Ski Brule in the UP has the planned earliest season opener slated for November 11. They are routinely one of the earliest opening ski resorts in the Heartland. Lift tickets are free on opening day. They have a Thanksgiving special offering half-off on Wednesday night lodging if you plan on staying through the holiday weekend for four nights. Their highly regarded Thanksgiving Race Camp is taking place over the four days.

Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota and Snowriver Mountain Resort, also in the UP have planned season openers slated for November 19. Lutsen plans on having 10 runs open on Eagle Mountain and early season lift tickets are $79 through December 16. Ski in/ski out lodging specials at Lutsen are available from $109 per night. Snowriver lift tickets will be the same as Lutsen, $69 through December 16, and you can purchase two day lift tickets for $10 off online. No lodging specials were listed on their website. Both resorts will be limiting lift ticket sales on weekends and holidays, which means buy ahead online.

Wisconsin's Granite Peak has an opening slated during the week before Thanksgiving. No lodging specials were listed on their website, but affordable lodging is within minutes of the ski area. Lift tickets are $79 from opening day through December 16. Purchase before November 15 and save 20% off the posted rates. They will also be limiting lift ticket sales on holidays and weekends, which means purchase online ahead of time.

  455 Hits

Boyne Mountain Adds Sky Bridge And New Eight-Seat Lift

DSC07287

Boyne Mountain is stepping up its attraction for Midwest visitors and skiers with a couple of significant new additions to its landscape.

The SkyBridge, which just opened, is the world's longest timber-towered suspension bridge. The 1,200-foot-long walking bridge is located between the resort's McLouth and Disciples Ridge peaks. The five foot walking surface is suspended 118 feet above the valley floor and will offer breathtaking panoramic views of surrounding Boyne valley and Northern Michigan's rolling hills. The scenery will be spectacular throughout the fall season with the area known for its eye-catching fall color foliage. It will be open year round for pedestrians.

With its timber-frame design, the bridge is a nod to the logging heritage of Northern Michigan. The four wooden timber towers, which anchor the ends of the Sky Bridge are 52 feet high. The bridge is a five foot wide walking surface suspended 118 feet above the valley floor by cables and is nearly a quarter-mile, 1200 feet, long. The bridge will be available operating on the same schedule as the daily ski lifts.

You won't be allowed to take ski equipment across. You access the Sky Bridge just beyond the Eagle's Nest restaurant and the exit ramp for the high-speed, six-seat lift. It is open daily through the end of the month from 10 a..m.-8:30 pm. From Nov. 4 through Dec. 4 it will only be open Friday through Sunday. For the winter season it will be open daily starting Dec. 9. Pricing is $25 adults, $20 seniors, and $15 children.

The other big Boyne Mountain news is the installation of the Heartland's first eight-person, high-speed lift, which is being installed on Disciples Ridge. It will be open for the 2022/23 snowsports season. It's replacing the old, slow Disciples I and II lifts. The new eight seater will get you to the top in just a little over three minutes. The old lifts used to take at least twice as long. It will feature automatic safety bars and a raisable loading carpet for young skiers and riders. Disciples Ridge was always underused. That should change this coming season.

They put the 180 Disciples chairs from the old lifts on sale this past May and sold them all in one hour raising about $100,000 for the newly formed Boyne Mountain Fund for Youth supporting programs and projects benefiting youth within Charlevoix County, home to the Mountain.

  218 Hits

Lutsen, Granite Peak Owner Purchases Michigan's Big Snow Resort

Indianhead-Mountain-last-winter-Indianhead-Facebook

 

Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak owner Charles Skinner, Jr. recently completed purchasing Big Snow Resort, which is located in Michigan's western Upper Peninsula (UP).

 Big Snow is actually two older Midwestern ski resorts, Indianhead and Black Jack operated as one resort under one owner that are less than a mile apart across a valley from each other. It's the largest ski area in the UP. Indianhead has a 638-foot vertical and Blackjack is 490 feet. Skinner has already announced he is changing the name from Big Snow to Snowriver Mountain Resort, and the two historic base areas will be renamed for the rivers flowing through the resort, Black River Basin for Blackjack and Jackson Creek Summit for Indianhead. The two areas provide 400-acres for snowsports with the possibility of expanding to 500-acres.

 Both ski areas are antiquated with old Riblet chairlifts and base lodges that need a lot of updating. Jackson Creek has five chairlifts and Black River has four. Both offer lodging and a hotel is located at the top of Jackson Creek, which is an upside-down resort with its base area on top as you drive in. Look for big changes in the future, including tying the two ski areas together in the valley with a connecting lift so they won't have to run a shuttle between them. A single lift ticket is good at both locations.

 When Skinner purchased Granite Peak it was a rundown rustic ski area with a big vertical, 700 feet, and a lot of promise. The old area, called Rib Mountain didn't even get to the top. In less than two decades he transformed it into one of the largest in the Midwest adding more terrain, trails, high-speed lifts and creating a vibrant new base area. Lutsen Mountains is the largest ski resort in the Heartland operating off four mountain peaks with an 860-foot vertical and the only gondola mid-America.

 All three resorts are now operated as the Midwest Family Ski Resorts, which was created by Skinner and his daughter Charlotte Skinner, who joined her father after graduating from Columbia University and gaining finance experience through public technology companies she worked for. The Midwest Family Ski Resorts offers what they call the Legendary Pass, which offered unlimited skiing and snowboarding at Lutsen and Granite Peak last season. Snowriver Mountain Resort is being added for the 2022/23 season. The Legendary Pass is currently on sale for $899. All three resorts are also members of the Indy Pass.

  449 Hits

Boyne Mountain Offers Great Biking

Boyne-Mountain-moutain-biking-Facebook

Boyne Mountain offers a nice selection of summer activities, especially biking with paved bike path options as well as over 20 miles of mountain bike trails. A new paved pathway runs from Boyne Falls over to Boyne City on Lake Charlevoix, and the other paved option is on Boyne property. Both are nice rides.

The Boyne Valley Trailway offers a scenic ride through countryside mostly away from roads. It's a little over six miles one way, and the Mountain has a scenic mile connecter trail that joins the Trailway as it leaves Boyne Falls. You really feel like you're riding through countryside. Enjoy pedaling around the old town, which comes alive in summer with people and music in late afternoon and early evening. It's around 16 miles out-and-back.

The other paved ride flows over the Mountain Pass Road from the village down to the golf course area and Beach House on Deer Lake. Then ride the seven mile scenic cart path, open to bikers and hikers, that winds up along the golf course and back over the ski hill back to the village. There are nice scenic vistas from the upper trail of the countryside. As you start back down to the village it runs along the ski slopes. The total round trip is 15 miles.

An extensive collection of mountain bike trails are on the north side of the Mountain Pass. I found the lower trails offered some nice riding through forest and meadows. The upper trails, in a forest setting, are considered difficult and most difficult. There are a couple of entrances to the trails on top of the Mountain Pass Road as you head over to Deer Lake. You can also get chairlift access with your personal mountain bike to the top and trails lead over to the upper trail system. There are close to 22 miles of mountain bike trails.

Other summer activities include a nine-station zipline, paintball, horseback riding, and, of course, golf on their award winning courses.

I stayed in the newly remodeled Chalet Edelweiss, a European inspired guest haus sitting at the base of the ski slopes overlooking the village. A bike fleet is included for lodging guests to use during their stay. Luxurious would best describe it with all the amenities included.

Spend a couple of nights to divide the rides into a couple of days and enjoy riding up their chairlift for some great early evening views of the surrounding countryside. You can also get a look at the new peak-to-peak, pedestrian sky bridge being built between the peaks of McLouth and Disciples Ridge with an anticipated opening in late September. It will be the world's longest timber-towered suspension bridge stretching 1,203 feet, nearly a quarter-mile, and 118 feet high offering panoramic views of the valley.

 

  473 Hits

Cannonsburg Ski Area Might Be Purchased By Kent County

Cannonsburg-ski-area-Cannonsburg-Facebook

Michigan's Kent County is considering purchasing the 272-acre Cannonsburg Ski Area, located just north of Grand Rapids, for a county outdoor recreation area, according to a recent report by MLIVE News.

Continue reading
  868 Hits

Ski Midwest Gold Card Now On Sale, Limited Number Available

Indianhead-Mountain-Indianhead-Mountain-Facebook-image

How would you like to ski, and ride over 20 of the Midwest's top ski areas this winter, every day of the season for just $525?

Continue reading
  1162 Hits

Easter Weekend Skiing In Midwest And Beyond

Lutsen-Mountains-spring-skiing.-Lutsen-Facebook

Three ski resorts—Lutsen Mountains, Ski Brule and Boyne Mountain—plan on being open over Easter Weekend and weekends through the month. Mount Bohemia, which SnoCountry just posted last week, is also staying open weekends through April.

Continue reading
  1277 Hits

Mount Bohemia Nearing 300” Of Snow This Season

Mount-Bohemia-backcountry-2-Bohemia-Facebook

It might not be a record-breaking year for snowfall in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but some areas of the Keweenaw Peninsula, home to Mount Bohemia, have received more than 300 inches of snow already this season. Officially the resort has recorded over 280” this season, and it will continue to snow through April.

Continue reading
  1035 Hits

Michigan Duo Sets World Record Visiting Most Ski Areas In 24 Hours

Guiness-world-record-facebook-MSIA-2

Michigan skier Kyle Kelly and snowboarding friend Brad Dykstra set a new world record for visiting the most ski areas in a 24-hour period this past weekend.

Continue reading
  1246 Hits

Ski Brule Offers A Chance To Ride With An Olympic Gold Medalist

Nick-at-Ski-Brule

Upper Michigan's Ski Brule is hosting a celebration for the hometown hero and Olympic gold medalist Nick Baumgartner, who claims the ski area as his home hill having grown up in Iron Mountain. The celebration will take place Sunday, March 11 from 5-10 p.m. He will be riding the slopes from noon to 3 p.m., and lift ticket holders are invited to join him. A great chance to get some pictures and video skiing or riding with an Olympic medalist.

Continue reading
  699 Hits

How About An Olympic Luge Run And Skiing On A Weekend Trip?

Muskegon-Winter-Sports-Complex-luge-slide-Facebook

With the Winter Olympics taking place in February skiing and snowboarding are at the forefront, but have you ever thought about what it would be like to try a luge run? It always looks pretty exciting during the competition when they can reach speeds of up to 90 mph during a run.

Continue reading
  1257 Hits

Michigan's Nick Baumgartner Makes Fourth Olympics

Nick-Baumgartner-riding

Nick Baumgartner, who lives in Iron River in the Wolverine State's Upper Peninsula and calls Ski Brule his “home hill,” has achieved the criteria to be named to his fourth Winter Olympics. Having competed for 2010, 2014, and 2018 U. S. Olympic Snowboard Cross teams, the 40-year-old will be the oldest Olympic snowboarder in American history.

Continue reading
  1292 Hits

Michigan Ski Areas Offering Affordable Snowsports Lessons Through January

Crystal-Mountain-retired-not-retired-program-Mike-Terrell-picture

January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month. Throughout the Midwest ski areas are offering discounted lesson programs. Michigan offers one of the best programs for cost and simplicity, and it’s available at ski areas throughout both peninsulas of the Wolverine State.

 

Continue reading
  1002 Hits

Celebrating Holidays With Events, Activities In Midwest Ski Country

Big-Snow-Resort-New-Years-Eve-celebration-webpage

Winter has returned across the upper Midwest and several resorts have plans to celebrate the season. A welcome return in lieu of last year's subdued celebrations.

Continue reading
  775 Hits