Midwest extreme skiing and riding cult favorite Mt. Bohemia has lost its triple chairlift until about the end of January, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time, just a couple of weeks before its annual $99 season pass sale.
Located in the Kewanee Peninsula of Michigan’s UP, hours from any large population, the ski area specializes in extreme skiing. Most of its terrain on the 900-foot mountain is backcountry. They don’t groom, don’t make snow, and don’t welcome beginners or even low intermediate skiers and riders. Much of the terrain is rated single, double and triple black-diamond, which means “extreme.”
It means they will have only a double chairlift and buses to transport people from the day-lodge area, about a half-mile away, to the double chair.
Mount Bohemia owner Lonnie Glieberman told SnoCountry.com, “The triple chair may be ready by the last week in January, but February 1 is still the target date allowing for any unforeseen setbacks. The gearbox is expected by mid-January and installation should take about a week."
The resort was looking for input on its Facebook page over the weekend on their single-day $99 season pass sale set for Saturday, Dec. 1, explaining they have capacity issues with just the one double chairlift and bus transportation to handle weekend crowds. They were proposing limiting season pass holders to Monday through Thursday until the triple was ready, and then everyday through the end of the season. They asked readers “how likely are you to buy a season pass based on these changes?”
Glieberman said that a survey of close to 1,000 past season pass holders showed that at least 55-percent planned to purchase a season pass this year.
“We just wanted to let people know that until the triple chair is ready they might run into weekend lift lines, which Mount Bohemia skiers aren’t used to seeing,” he added. “You can access all of our terrain from the double chair, and we are adding more busses on weekends until the triple chair is back in use.”
Mount Bohemia’s one day season pass sales is hard to pass up. The season pass is $99, no blackouts, and it can only be purchased on Saturday, Dec. 1. The regular season pass price is $340. The normal daily lift rate this season will be $50 for all ages. You do the math.
“It's a long drive, about seven hours but, if you like backcountry and true powder skiing, there's nothing to compare around our region of the country,” Traverse City skier Deena Barshney said. “The pass is a great bargain. I make one long weekend trip during the winter, and the pass pays for itself; additional days are all a bonus.
“I’ll make at least two weekend trips and maybe three if the snow is good,” she enthused. “I couldn’t begin to ski out west one long weekend for anywhere near the same cost.”
Most of Bohemia’s pass holders aren’t close by. The majority would use their pass on weekends. Chicago is 10 hours away and Detroit is 12. That’s part of Bohemia's backcountry appeal. Prior to Bohemia opening about a decade ago, locals used to climb the mountain to ski the backcountry terrain. It looks like they have been spoiled.
Having skied it several times over the years, I can report there is nothing else like it in the Midwest. It’s as close to Jackson Hole-style skiing as can be found mid-continent.
Photos: Mt. Bohemia