Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada

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Explore the Local Snowboarding Experience

By Mathew Lajoie

Meandering strips of corduroy-imprinted snow descend the slopes in front of me. The heavy snowfall from last night has tapered off and each snowflake calmly places itself on the freshly groomed base. The clouds slowly begin to separate allowing the sun’s morning rays to reach the tips of the hills rolling off into the distance.

My mind is absent of the responsibilities that wait for me at the bottom of the mountain. The ageless beauty of the Northern Ontario landscape captures me and enables me to escape. It is my first run of the day.

From my seat atop the peak, I strategically plot my course of decent focusing on each line of the unmarked, groomed trail in front of me. I take one last deep breath. The cloud of exhalent is rich with excitement and anticipation.

The back edge of my board grips the snow as I stand perpendicular to the mellow downward angle of my starting point. I jump forward. Turn. The nose of my deck settles on it’s downward bearing.

   


My heart palpitates faster as I gain speed down The Main. Quickly the earth drops from beneath me and I descend upon the first rolling mound. I lean forward, digging the steel edge of my snowboard into the tightly packed snow, cutting my carve line with precision and strength. My knees pump like pistons, absorbing the changing levels of earth beneath me. Back and forth I rip the snow, displacing each settled grain frozen liquid.

The mountain begins to plateau beneath the layers of carbon fibre and polyethylene strapped to my feat. My heart rate settles as I teeter on the summit of Melville’s Mile. The sense of freedom and fear brings a sideways grin to my face. I quickly catch my breath and aim for the tree line… I digress. This is my snowboarding experience… isn’t it time you created your own?

During the winter months an annual average of 336 feet of natural snow blankets the hills of Northern Ontario. Hidden amongst the frozen Precambrian landscape is a winter retreat that characterizes Sault Ste. Marie Ontario as the top Snowboarding destination in the Midwest.

Forty minutes outside of the Sault, Searchmont Resort towers 750 feet above Northern Ontario’s countryside. The Resort’s twin peaks proudly shadow the lesser hills below and serve as a beacon of adventure for those who seek it. Upon the mountainside, a diverse selection of terrain is carved from the ancient rocks and forest to suit every style of rider at all skill levels.

On the hill, Double, Triple, and Quad chair lifts suspend on their cables and dip above and below Searchmont’s ridged tree lines. Over busy runs, settled forest and weathered rock faces, each snowboarder is gently passed to the peaks in the hands of painted steel pillars.

Accessing the slopes from the Triple lift, riders are introduced to a series of unmoving white waves. Rolling down the moderate grade of The Main, mound after mound of groomed natural snow beats like a rhythm upon layers of wax and plastic.

Traversing underneath the Triple to the left side of the hill, The Main narrows as the Terrain Park expands to the tree line. Growing from its tapered entrance midway down The Main, the lips of finely sculpted tables sparkle against the sun. Each jump releases its challenger from the pull of gravity allowing them to soar through the air with acrobatic freedom. Breaking up the arrangement of jumps, forged steel jib rails line the open sections of the Terrain Park. Each unique iron obstacle tests the skillful and the fearless.

Ascending to the far peak of the mountain, the Double and Quad chair lifts transport riders to a more challenging environment. Narrow groomed trails drape around sections of forest. Runs over a kilometre long swoop through the natural rock formations and drop unexpectedly with each turn. Each main artery is connected with a myriad of cat tracks allowing each run to be a fresh adventure.

Rounding off Searchmont’s terrain is rough, ungroomed Northern Ontario backcountry. To the rear of the hill, a slender strip of cleared trees forms the User Friendly run, granting access to knee deep untouched natural snow. A maze of trees forces every turn of the snowboard to be quick and aggressive and is difficult to navigate for even the most experience riders.

In piecing together each of its defining characteristics, it is not difficult to see that Searchmont offers an experience to seek and to be proud of. With its selection of terrain, more than ideal conditions and natural beauty, it comes second-to-none to any snowboarding destination in Ontario and Northern Michigan.

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