A Skier and Snowboarder's Paradise

The best snow, slopes, and tree skiing this side of the Rockies & the U.S. border

Dropping into the tree run to the far skier’s right, I watch as the locals flow through the knee-deep snow. They dart between the trees, over jumps, and into the air. I’m right there behind them, and we’re all whooping ecstatically. For skiers and snowboarders that chase powder, this is the dream. And when Searchmont gets snow, it is one seriously fun place to ski.

Downhill

Just north of Sault Ste. Marie, Searchmont Resort has 700 feet of vertical, three chairlifts, and one Poma. It’s a friendly place that gets an annual average snowfall of 132 inches. The resort benefits from lake effect snow as cold air masses travel across Lake Superior and send the white fluffy stuff over Searchmont. Spending our first day tracking out the resort is the perfect way to start a trip in Algoma Country

We’re visiting Bellevue Valley Lodge, and this is our warm-up day; over the next five days, our host, Enn Poldmaa, shows us some of the best snow, slopes, and tree skiing this side of the Rockies and the U.S. border. And we’ll have everything to ourselves.

Bellevue Valley Lodge

Poldmaa’s Lodge is the epicentre of backcountry skiing in Ontario. He’s been clearing the 2,000 acres in his backyard for 30 years. If you’re ready to earn your turns, this is the place you’re going to earn some incredibly memorable ones, now with 20 runs, all with about 700 feet of the fall line. Bellevue Valley Lodge is all-inclusive; for five days we’re here, we don’t need to think about anything. We park the car and it doesn’t move. We don’t need to cook, clean, grocery shop, or open our wallets. It’s the perfect vacation. Home-cooked meals and packed lunches can be customized to suit any dietary needs, so all we need to think about is skiing and snowboarding.

Access to Enn’s terrain is right out the back door of the guest house, which sleeps up to 15 people. We simply get up, eat breakfast, drink coffee, prep gear, and go ski. For untracked powder, there’s no rush to beat the locals. We can get out as fast or as leisurely as we want. And when the day is over, Enn’s sauna is a cure-all to weary bones and muscles; this thing could melt the wax off your skis and cure the day’s lactic acid buildup all at the same time. And somersaulting into the snow out the door is the perfect ender to a perfect day of skiing.

Enn

For the next five days, we tour around Enn’s property and without a doubt, have some of the best turns of anyone in the province that week. Snow continues to accumulate and as any good ski trip should go, our last run down is our best. Climbing up to the top of one of the runs, we top out 700 feet above where we started. Dropping into the old-growth forest, it’s steep and deep. All of us hoot and holler our way to the bottom, our legs tired and burning, our hearts full of joy, camaraderie, and new friendships. It’s a place I will definitely be returning to in the coming years.

Downhill2

There’s no way around it, the drive to Sault Ste. Marie is a bucket list ride and the adventure that awaits is purely epic.

About Colin Field

Colin is an award-winning photographer and writer, specializing in outdoor travel and adventure. He is the editor-at-large with Mountain Life Magazine. He is based in Collingwood, Ontario. 

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