5 feet of fresh at Mt. Bohemia. U.P. contributor Greg Thocker relays his experience from the season opener in copper country.

Earlier this week the word was spread around local skiers in Marquette that Mt. Bohemia was getting a lot of snow and may bump the opening day up a week to December 14th. No one knew quite how much snow they were getting or how well covered the mountain would be, but people were talking that it may be one of the best opening days they have ever had. By mid-week they had changed the opening date and announced that they would have 92 of 95 runs open with 90 inches of snow so far this season.

This would be my third season living in the Upper Peninsula and I had yet to make the trip up the Keweenaw to ride my snowboard. I got a call Thursday that some friends were making the trip for opening day so I jumped on that opportunity. We left Marquette at 9pm Friday night after the last one of us finished up their work week. The car was packed with skis, boards, sleeping bags, and down parkas. We were planning on driving all of the way to Lac La Belle that night and sleep in the minivan in hopes of fresh tracks in the morning. Plans changed a bit when we got hit by a negligent driver rolling through a stop sign in Houghton. Luckily everyone was okay, but the already weathered old minivan gained a little more character with now having the whole driver side door dented in. The police left the scene at 2am so we decided to spend the night in Houghton.

We crawled out of the sleeping bags at 7 am and were on the road by 7:30. We got to Mt. Bohemia at 8:30am and it seemed as though everyone else was equally as powder hungry, with the parking lot filling up and a line out the door for breakfast and ticket. There was over five feet of fresh snow on the ground and it was still coming down at almost an inch an hour!

As we were waiting in the lift line I couldn’t help but notice how legit everyone looked. Whether it was the duct tape on the old shells and pants, patches and stickers from all over out west, or all of the rad powder skis and boards that everyone had out, you could just tell that these people were the real deal and they probably ripped on what-ever they were riding that day.

Mount Bohemia Opening Day 2013

The view was truly epic from the lift seeing Lake Superior off in the distance and the terrain looked as big and as deep as it had been described to me. I dropped in right below the lift and laid into a hard heel side carve; this was the first time I had ridden pow so deep that it felt for a minute like I had stopped moving in this cloud of snow. However, when the snow cleared and I could see again I had most definitely not stopped and was heading straight down probably the steepest run Michigan has ever offered me in almost untouched powder.

We rode from 9:30am until 4:50pm when the lifts closed having only taken a quick break for water and some cliff bars. We all felt incredibly satisfied and rewarded after having a pretty eventful trip to get up here and we hopped in the minivan to head back to Marquette.

I am a decent snowboarder who has ridden most of the mountain ranges in the lower 48 and the Chugach range in Alaska. I am not lying when I say Mt. Bohemia has some of the best terrain I have ever seen and in places, was some of the most challenging riding I have ever done. So for all of those folks who may be thinking about making the trip, do it! I have heard many people say that with the gas it would take to get here that they could drive to Vermont or be three-quarters of the way out west and ride “real mountains.” Mt. Bohemia’s terrain is more real than most places I have been and thanks to Gitche Gumee the snow can be bottomless up in Copper Country.

Have a great season fellow Michiganders and thank you Mt. Bohemia for a great adventure.

Photo Credits:
Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis, Christoph Simon, Greg Thocker

Written by: J. Dodge