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Inside Line: Mount Bohemia, MI

Inside Line
posted: 11/08/2004

Elevation: 1,580 feet
Vertical drop: 900 feet
Snowfall: 273 inches
Acres: 250
Getting There: From Houghton/Hancock, head 35 miles north on US 41. At Lac La Belle, turn right. The resort is 4 miles down the road.
Info: 888-937-2411, mtbohemia.com

Beta: Perched near the apex of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, five-year-old Mount Bohemia boasts 900 vertical feet, almost double that of any hill behind the Cheddar Curtain. There's no grooming and no beginner runs. And while the triple black diamond inbounds "backcountry is rowdy—40-foot cliffs, minichutes, and bowling alley—tight glades—the resort is a mellow, three-yurt affair. Two mountain ops guys help patrol on busy weekends, and a woman sells tickets from a picnic table. But best of all (at least for you), the place is empty: To lure more skiers, for the past two years, women have skied free—every day.

Powder DayMidweek, ride the Mountain Dew lift. Ski below it, and hit Copper Plunge's consistent 30- to 35-degree fall line. Otherwise, it's Extreme Backcountry time, where the runs are brief (700 feet) but attention-grabbing (35—50 degrees).

3 Days LaterBeat the locals to the Haunted Valley (not pictured): With short runs (500 feet long), and a mandatory traverse back to the lift, diehards save it for later. Last summer, Bohemia local Steve Rowe selectively cut five new runs. Hunt for week-old remnants in the trees near The Bad Seed (not pictured), named for the resort president's ex.

The RidingNarrow, winding, and sometimes lugelike, Rumbling Bear and Black Bear's berms, bumps, rollovers, and jumps resemble a terrain park, which Bohemia doesn't have.

Proving Grounds Marquee route: Grab your helmet. Nailing a line down Flying Squirrel—a treed and, in places, 45-degree series of 5- to 15-foot cliffs—may require some brushes with bark. Off-broadway: Take Bull Moose to Woodpeckers Hollow and duck into the trees on skiers' right. Pick your way through moderately steep, newly gladed pines. Exit via Tommyknocker's Plunge.

Backcountry AccessThe Extreme Backcounty isn't bonafide out-of-bounds: It's patrolled, and a retired airport shuttle bus returns to the base area every five to seven minutes.

WeatherAlberta Clippers come in quick, gather moisture from Lake Superior, and smack Bohemia with lake-effect snow. Last year, storms tagged the hill 42 days in a row. —Sam Moulton

Apres With frigid winter temps, cheap drinks, and several thousand frisky Huskies (from nearby Michigan Tech University), Houghton/ Hancock's bar scene is a heavy-drinking, unpretentious blend of coeds and Carhartts.

FuelThe base lodge sells snack foods, drinks, and micro-wavables (Ramen noodles and stew.) A half-mile down the road, Seasons restaurant serves Reuben sandwiches and bar fare, mostly to barrel-chested snowmobilers with big mittens.

Up All NightStart your evening at the Library, a sedate but upscale brewpub on First Street. For a more traditional U.P. scene—Ted Nugent tunes and buck-fifty tappers—head three blocks up the street to the Downtowner. (Tip: Unless you can operate a snowplow, don't wear your trucker hat.)

DigsSnag a slopeside cabin (two bunk beds and a bathroom from $99), with access to an "activity building and small cooking area. For cheap and cold, try Bohemia's designated winter-camping area ($20 per tent).

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