Day 3 led us to the Porcupine Mountains Ski Area to make some lift-assisted laps overlooking Lake Superior and then north to South Range to meet up with Tristan Kolb and check out some of his favorite backcountry zones.
Huge thanks to the Porkies for having us and Tristan for showing us around!
That night we headed north to the Porcupine Mountain ski area and met up with my good buddy Tristan, a Michigan Tech student with a strong sense of adventure. Tristan had been showing me new places to ski all winter and we figured it was only right to invite him on our adventure. We camped in the parking lot of the ski area that night and heard wolves howling in the distance.
Saturday morning we awoke to another clear day and an empty ski area. I’d never been to the Porcupine Mountains and I was amazed by the beauty of the land. Tristan, Collin, Seth, and I spent the day riding a resort that we had all to ourselves. The terrain was super mellow and I enjoyed exploring a new place. As with every place we stopped on this trip, the people working there were about as nice as you could find.
Another long day riding left us tired, but not tired enough to stop skiing. We wanted to head from the Porkies to Houghton and Tristan knew about some zones along the way. So we got our gear together and headed to South Range, a place that seems to always have about a foot more snow than anywhere else.
We got to the zone about an hour before sunset. By the time we hiked to the top of the hill the light was golden and spirits were high. We took two laps and got back to the top in time for a beautiful sunset. We enjoyed the sunset for a long time which made the ride down very interesting in the dark.
After a roadside dinner we made the hour drive up to Ski the Porkies near Ontonagon. Our Friend Tristen Kolb, an MTU student working on a comprehensive adventure guide for the Upper Peninsula met up with us as we exchanged stories around a parking lot campfire. This was our first night camping ‘Lift side’ and while it wasn’t the warmest it was pretty cool to fall asleep to the howls of far off wolves just yards from the chairlift. The Porkies ski area has 1 lift, a beautiful wood lodge, and on a good day some of the deepest powder this side of the Mississippi. Today wasn’t a powder day, but the blue skies and views of the lake more than made up for it. As the sun came out the snow softened up nicely and we had another amazing day lapping lifts in a beautiful UP ski area.
Tristan had some secret spots to show us between Houghton and Ontonagon so we left just before the lifts stopped turning. We made it to his spot just before dark and I was amazed at the amount of snow. Driving up the road was like driving through a tunnel, with snow well over the top of my Subaru. We skied some fun trees in golden hour before heading up to Houghton for the night. Nick from Ripley said we were welcome to camp in the lot, and we set up right next to the Copper lift. Night two of lift side accommodations!
Unfortunately, due to school and work, I wasn’t able to make it to the next stop with everyone.But, after a grueling day of all work and no play, I hit the road the next morning to meet up withthe crew at The Porcupine Mountains Ski Area.
Similar to the day at Marquette Mountain, it was another beautiful, sunny day without a cloud in the sky. We laid down some more turns on the groomers there, quickly packed up, and headed up to the Keweenaw Peninsula to score some turns on a peak just outside Houghton. We arrived to a gem of a spot that was somehow still protected from the sun the area had received the past few days. After trudging through a few crusty spots, we found a zone that still had a very nice layer of untouched pow. For me, that zone provided some of the best
turns I had had in months. We lapped until the sun went down, and headed to camp at Mont Ripley’s parking lot for the night.