The blizzard that ground parts of the Midwest to a halt this weekend hit the Upper Peninsula hard Saturday and Sunday, closing ski areas and heaping snow on the 250+ inch base Mt. Bohemia already had.
We saw the forecast coming at Midwest Ski Journal, so we joined MSJ Correspondent @choiceyturns to chase a powder day at the Midwest’s alpine mecca on the UP of Michigan.
We knew parts of Wisconsin and Michigan in the track of the storm would receive upwards of a foot. What pushed us over the edge was knowing Bohemia would benefit from a healthy heap of lake effect snow, too.
We knew 30″ was a possibility, but we figured it would be more like 15″. Well, the storm swirled over Bohemia all day Sunday, blowing extra snow onto Bohemia up until the chair spun Monday.
There was an easy 28″ of snow on the mountain (which is what Bohemia reported) but there were pockets of snow far deeper than that. Plus, the area has reported 263″ of snowfall this season to date, so everything was open and filled in.
Upon arrival Monday morning, we took a few extra hours of sleep in the van before gearing up and heading to the yurts to get ticketed and fed.
There, we waited an extra hour and a half for the lifts to spin. Rumors floated through the yurt that wind speeds flipped a chair up and over the line overnight and crews had to scramble to fix the problem. (During the chair delay, the spiked coffees and screwdrivers were flowing at the North Pole bar, which may have helped power the rumor mill.)
The snow drifts were the biggest issue. We overheard some employees grumbling that they had to dig their homes out from under 6-foot tall drifts before coming in to work at the hill where they had to dig out another 28″.
After hiking a lap, the chair started spinning. The snow was drifty and inconsistent in some wind-exposed areas, but we found our way to what Bohemia calls the “Extreme Backcountry” (which, ironically, is easily accessed skier’s left from the top of the lift).
In there, we skied 900+ vertical feet of fluffy, deep powder over and over again. We would hoot and holler our way down to the bus, which would take us to the lift and up again for more deep turns. Rinse. Repeat.
The snow in the trees settled into place and was wind protected, so it was much deeper than the exposed faces. Every rock, every tree and every cliff was filled in and skiable.
Monday’s deep, deep day was my first at Mt. Bohemia, so my first impression was through rose-colored glasses, but that place is incredible. We kept looking at each other and asking, “Are we really in Michigan?”
Many times during the day we would just look at each other and shake our heads in disbelief. Bohemia delivered, big time.
Not only is it the most vertical and the steepest skiing I’ve found in the Midwest, but the terrain is also really playful, with plenty of wind lips, drops and natural features.
In addition, the place has a fantastic vibe. From the area’s base, which is a series of yurts, to the people that inhabit them, Bohemia is a laid-back skier’s and rider’s paradise that caters to the Midwesterner who craves alpine.
I’m thrilled to have checked it off the list and Midwest Ski Journal will be back. We even saw them advertising a $99 season pass deal on the first Saturday in December, which we’ve circled heading into next season. (Pays for itself with 2 visits.)
Overall a very satisfying day at Bohemia, even if it took 8 hours to get there in a blizzard. Watch the snow and go skiing there. You won’t regret it.