What is up Shaggy’s family? My name is Darrin Bergman and I’m a skier. This fall I moved from Mount Pleasant, in the heart of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, to Marquette, the best place in the world as far as I’m concerned. I moved to the Upper Peninsula to attend Northern Michigan University where I study Secondary Education. The schooling has been great so far and I only miss class when the snow is really deep.
The real draw for me to attend NMU was all of the learning I’d be doing outside of the classroom. Growing up surrounded by cornfields and cow farms I always felt like I was in the wrong place. I needed a home where I could do everything I love doing right outside my front door. That’s what I found when I moved to the Yoop, the first place I’d ever lived with more than three lines on a topographic map.
Although I’ve enjoyed learning about English, math, and science, my favorite course of study this year has been outside the classroom — backcountry skiing. After 10-ish years of riding chairlifts at Boyne Mountain, I’m sad to say I was becoming bored with riding down groomed trails next to hundreds of other people who seemed more interested in sipping wine at the lodge than actually riding. I combatted this boredom by picking up telemark skiing two years ago. My first real telemark setup was a pair of Lake Michigan edition Ahmeeks, which I fell in love with immediately.
This winter my Ahmeeks have become my backcountry setup. On them, I’ve found untouched snow in some pretty amazing backcountry zones. The adventures really started earlier this winter, when I was lucky enough to befriend Seth Shuster and Collin Rehm, two guys who rip hard and are always down to earn some turns after a long week. Seth and Collin took me under their wing in a way. My first time ever putting skins on my skis and heading uphill was with Seth this December in Munising, Michigan. It was right after a storm that gave us just enough snow to find a few decent lines on the south side of town. Although we could have used a little more snow to completely cover the logs in the middle of our runs, my first time in Michigan’s backcountry gave me a taste of all that is good when you earn your way up the hill.
Since that day in December, I’ve probably spent more days skinning uphill than I’ve spent riding a chairlift. Most recently, me and Collin met up with some friends from Michigan Tech and spent a day bootpacking pillow lines in the Keweenaw. We got more faceshots in eight hours than most skiers get in a season.
I’ve learned a few things since I started my study of backcountry skiing. Some were obvious ones -- — like how to set an easy skin track and what to look for in a good zone -- but the biggest revelation I’ve had is about how accessible it is to get out into the woods and ride with your friends. From NMU’s campus I’m about eight minutes away from some of the most fun terrain I’ve ever ridden. If I have a couple hours at the end of the day I can go and get at least five laps in before dark. And the best part is that it’s all free to explore.
I’d encourage anyone who has a pair of skis to go out to the hill that they’ve looked at from the road for a few winters and climb up. If you don’t have bindings that allow you to skin up, bootpack it. I guarantee that the turns you make coming down will be all the sweeter.
By: Darrin Bergman
Darrin Skis The Ahmeek 105 Check them out here: https://www.skishaggys.com/collections/2017-2018-skis/products/2018-ahmeek-105
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