Five Days of Winter in Algoma

Day One Kicks off with a day on the slopes at Searchmont Resort

As a skier, there is no better way to start the day than to the rumble of a snow groomer outside your window and a landscape of fresh, overnight snow that gently rounds over the hard edges of yesterday. Actually, not just a layer of snow but 30 cm that fell in the last 24 hours. Yummy. 

I'm getting ahead of myself. Where is this winter wonderland, you ask?

We are at Searchmont Resort, nestled in the rugged Canadian Shield of the Goulais River Valley—about 45 minutes northeast of Sault Ste. Marie. With a vertical of 700 feet (228 metres), Searchmont can trade vertical stat jabs with the best in Ontario. But unique to this ski resort is the prolific snow-making machine known as Lake Superior, regularly pounding these slopes with winter storms to the tune of 132 inches (336 cm) annual snowfall on average.

searchmont resort chalets

We are in the Algoma region for a five-day sampling of the area’s winter adventure potential and the first thing on the agenda is just outside the door. So, as they say in the good time manual, Let’s Get This Party Started! Welcome to the day in the life of a Searchmont first-timer.

searchmont resort ski

Our slope-side accommodations show their benefits right off the bat—a no-rush approach to the day and the knowledge that when the snow flies, you're not wasting your time driving when you can be skiing.

searchmont resort ski hill

Looking good, the groomers have been working hard. Ten days into the season and it’s looking epic.

searchmont resort lounge

The lodge opens at 9 am; the first order of business: is fuel the body. Anything you want with a side of bacon and hot coffee sounds like a plan. The ladies working the grill do not disappoint.

searchmont resort rental shop

Travelling light and keeping it simple, we opted to rent. Good decision—the gear is awesome, as is the staff. They had us set up in minutes.

searchmont resort group of skiiers

The crowds gather as you can see waiting for a chair lift is optional, not a requisite.

searchmont resort lift

With one triple lift, one double lift, one quad lift, and a Poma lift, you will tire yourself out from skiing, not standing around.

searchmont resort skier

There are 26 groomed runs and enough terrain to explore that we were able to find spots all day where we had first tracks.

searchmont resort skier

Summer pruning means winter fun—while at most resorts in Ontario, heading for the trees is a no-no, at Searchmont it’s encouraged.

searchmont resort warm up shack

There is a downside to no lift lines, ripping groomers, and knee-deep runs in the glades—eventually, you will need a break. If lunch is what you're after, then the lodge is where you want to be. We opted for a more rustic experience with some fireside R-n-R in a mountaintop log cabin.

searchmont resort snowboarding

A brief glimpse at the rugged terrain around us—I’m told on a bluebird day the views are spectacular.

searchmont resort skiing

The area’s natural features offer plenty of opportunities to get creative.

searchmont resort skiing

Did I mention the glades are full of powder? Can’t believe this is just the start of the season!

Cheers to a good day, if you are going to raise a glass to celebrate it might as well be a local brew. In this case, Northern Superior Brewing is located just down the road in Sault Ste. Marie.

searchmont resort fireplace

There you have it, a day in the life of a Searchmont first-timer is in the books. So, what’s the verdict? It’s not what I can say but what we did speaks volumes. With one minute till the lifts stop for the day, we could have headed for the barstool but instead, we headed for the lift and one more run. Awesome terrain, awesome snow, and awesome northern hospitality. Searchmont thanks for the good times.

What’s next on our Algoma winter adventure itinerary? Patience my friends, good things come to those who wait but I will offer a clue: big wheels keep on rolling.

Stay tuned.

Notes From The Road

It takes about 45 minutes to drive from Sault Ste. Marie on a good winter day. Marie to Searchmont Resort. I think it's safe to say that the better the skiing, the longer the drive. There are accommodations available at the resort but be aware that during the week things get pretty quiet after the lodge closes at 5 pm, so make sure to bring all you need, food, drinks, friends, etc. Come Friday and Saturday, the lights come on and the good times keep rolling, on and off the slopes until 9 pm. Additional accommodations are available outside the resort, and of course in Sault Ste. Marie.

For more skiing options in and around Sault Ste. Marie, visit the Tourism website.

Read Day Two Fat Biking in Sault Ste. Marie and Day Three Hiawatha Highlands

(All photo credits: Martin Lortz)
About Martin Lortz

Martin Lortz is a freelance photographer/writer specializing in the outdoor lifestyle. Whether he is covering adventure motorcycling, kayak fishing or family oriented outdoor pursuits, his passion for capturing the beauty of nature and the people that partake in it, is evident in his work. His photos and articles have appeared in magazines such as Ski Canada, Explore, Bike, Mountain Life, Couloir, Kayak Angler and Family Camping, as well as in calendars, catalogs and brochures.

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