The first time I ever dipped my feet into the world of alpine touring was three seasons ago. Jeff came up to Marquette for an early snowfall hungry for some skiing after a late start to winter. We drove north, deep into the Huron Mountains to some areas I had scouted without snow on the ground. The trees were spaced, the snow was fresh, and there was no going back; I was hooked on touring.
Over the last 3 seasons, I’ve been using my Tubby 120s and Bootjack 115s to explore as much of the Huron Mountains as possible. The Hurons are a place that hasn’t changed much since the first miners and loggers arrived in the 1840s. Snowfall averaging over 250” per year and the unfriendly terrain of granite cliffs and deep bogs have kept development at bay. A few parcels, mostly with remote deer camps, dot the landscape. Otherwise, the region is largely uninhabited. Most of the land here is owned by timber companies which operate under a CF easement program with the state of Michigan. The companies get a tax write-off and so long as leave-no-trace standards are used, public access is protected. Not many take advantage of their rights on the land. In the last 3 years, I’ve seen more wolf tracks than ski tracks in the deep snow of the Huron backcountry.
John, Jon and Eric with Northern Michigan Lifestyles stopped by Marquette, camera gear in tow, on their way home from Shaggy’s family weekend at Mt. Bohemia. Local snowboarder Nic Beadreault joined and we were ready to ride! We wasted no time, and got an early start in a zone just a ten minute drive from town. A storm had just rolled through, dumping 6-8” of dry powder on top of an already solid base. The sun even came out and we got to experience the ephemeral bluebird Michigan pow day. One good thing about skiing in Michigan is how quick the laps are. Even with the transition of going from uphill to downhill mode it still takes less than 20 minutes to get a lap in. These short lines contain spaced trees with lots of small drops, pillows, and logs. Our newest ambassador, Darrin Bergman joined us for some tele, and we even were even able to session a road gap over a snowmobile trail. It’s not very often you can hit a 30’ gap through the trees with almost zero setup time! After a full day of skiing and filming it was time to call it quits and catch some beer with our friends over at Blackrocks Brewery.
The next day the weather flipped. In place of our bluebird powder day was a light coating of freezing rain and quickly warming temperatures. We headed north into the Hurons for a day of touring further from town. I had hoped that the higher elevation and distance from the lake would have kept the area cooler, however the snow quickly turned to mashed potatoes. We skied a “popular” road lap spot with a few friends and made the most of what Michigan’s variable weather gave us. The snow was deep and skiable, friends were out, and overall we still had a great day in the woods. There’s nothing quite like a good day of backcountry skiing surrounded by good people in the beautiful Huron Mountains.
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