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MIDWEST SKIERS what happened to Sugarloaf?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Back in the early to mid nineties there was a ski area near Traverse City , MI called Sugarloaf. It was pretty decent for the Midwest. It had a pretty step 45 degree hill called Awful Awful. The first and only time that I was ever there they had just opened a run on the back called Manitou Extreme that they ran SG on. I have done searches all over the internet...nothing. I have also even asked some TC locals and they have no idea what I am talking about.
Did it just disappear?
post #2 of 34
Perhaps Kneale will pop in with some more information.
Sugarloaf has been in the news a lot the last few years. Bankrupt then bought, then failed to open, then co-op'ed(IIRC).

They had plans of opening back up several times, but due to promises of opening and then not delivering, I believe that it's belly up again.
I honestly lost track after the first few failed attempts of reopening.
Cool area, though. Sad to see it go.
post #3 of 34
It closed in the late nineties, mostly due to mismanagement and the fact that the guy who owned it was a crook. (and I don't say this lightly - he actually went to jail)

It was sold a couple years ago to a woman from the Grand Rapids area who was going to re-open it, but it didn't happen for various reasons.

It may open again, but don't hold your breath. It's not exactly like the economy of Michigan is favorable.

If you want more info The Record Eagle has some articles in the archive. No movement in the past two years.

Meanwhile, Boyne USA bought Sugarloaf in Maine because they just can't pass up a deal to buy a resort with the same name as one in Michigan. Sugarloaf, ME, joins Brighton (Utah) and Crystal Mt. (Wash.) in the Boyne family.
post #4 of 34
I used to ski there all the time in High School.... Here is a picture of Awful, Awful taken this summer.



I used to race USSA on Manitou. It was too narrow (and too short, for that matter) for SG, but yes, it was a race run.

Sugarloaf may have been one of the consistently coldest ski areas in the nation....
post #5 of 34
We use to ski there alot as a kid. The place is dead and buried as far as I can tell as a reopening will never financially pencil out. Systems have been down too long to simply/cost effectively rehab, upgrade and restart...it's too bad.

We still enjoy the area every summer as a hiking spot. Kids love to play on the lifts, climb the poles and explore the old buildings and lifty shacks. Great photo spot from the top too with Lake MI in the background.

For the "near" area your left with Crystal Mt. or the Homestead "yikes".
post #6 of 34
Here's another article from the Lelanau Enterprise.

And then there's the leelanau.com blog - lots of interesting opinions from the locals in the comments. Maybe more than you really wanted to know...
post #7 of 34
We use to ski there all the time when I was a kid. We had a blast. I think Sugarloaf had the most vert. in MI, whoa!

But today, this place is dead and buried. The systems are way beyond any rehab/upgrade and a simple restart. Realistically there is no way for this place to financially "pencil out"...too bad.

We hike it every summer and it's still a good time. The kids love to play on the lifts, climb the towers and explore the old buildings and lifty shacks.

Well you still have Crystal Mt. and the Homestead in the area...Yikes!
post #8 of 34
45 Degrees?
post #9 of 34
The real Sugarloaf ate it.
post #10 of 34
That's neither 45 degrees nor steep, although I could see how it could seem that way to a kid.

That run is ridiculously short. Is it even 100' vertical?
post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
That's neither 45 degrees nor steep, although I could see how it could seem that way to a kid.

That run is ridiculously short. Is it even 100' vertical?
You do know this is in Michigan, right? You know we don't have mountains here? Of course it is short. It is probably about 400'.

It is definitely not 45 degrees, but yes, it is pretty steep by Michigan standards. I'd probably compare it to "Slalom," that last headwall that y's off skiers left of Gros Ventre at Jackson.

It also seemed alot steeper because they would blow a ridiculous amount of snow right at the top and almost create a dropoff to start out. You literally could hang your skis over the edge.
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
That's neither 45 degrees nor steep, although I could see how it could seem that way to a kid.

That run is ridiculously short. Is it even 100' vertical?
Sugarloaf had the largest vertical drop of any ski hill in the lower peninsula of Michigan: 600 feet.

Awful Awful was considered the steepest run in the state. It's not 45 degrees by any stretch of the imagination, but it's steep enough that it would rate as a legit black anywhere.
post #13 of 34
I know...but it's one thing to talk about little hills and another to actually be faced with the cruel reality in stark jpgedness.

By the way, you want to go skiing this weekend? We're hiking up from Paradise to Camp Muir. 4600' vertical hike, may be 2000' vertical skiable right now. Should be gooood.
post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
That's neither 45 degrees nor steep, although I could see how it could seem that way to a kid.

That run is ridiculously short. Is it even 100' vertical?
It was actually 45 degrees. I was 18 when a was there. But then again that was 13 years ago. The length wasn't too bad for a midwest hill. Come on just because it is in Michigan doesn't mean it sucks.................that bad.
post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by The-Mantra View Post
It was actually 45 degrees.
Uh.... no.

Maybe for the first 5 feet of the snowmaking overhang....

Tower 3 chute at JH is only 38 degrees.
post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
I know...but it's one thing to talk about little hills and another to actually be faced with the cruel reality in stark jpgedness.

By the way, you want to go skiing this weekend? We're hiking up from Paradise to Camp Muir. 4600' vertical hike, may be 2000' vertical skiable right now. Should be gooood.
Is that an invite for all Michiganders or just UP?
post #17 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
Is that an invite for all Michiganders or just UP?
Of course you're invited. Be at my place by 3:30 tomorrow. We're spending the night at Paradise, then heading up around first light on Saturday.
post #18 of 34
I'm closer to Hell, than paradise
post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
By the way, you want to go skiing this weekend? We're hiking up from Paradise to Camp Muir. 4600' vertical hike, may be 2000' vertical skiable right now. Should be gooood.

Whoa!! Total radness, bro!! You're like the coolest guy here! Can I touch you??
post #20 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
I'm closer to Hell, than paradise
I, on the other hand am closer to Paradise. If you look at the map, though, it isn't THAT much further for you to go to Paradise....

post #21 of 34
I mapquested from my house to Paradise and from my house to Hell and I AM closer to Paradise!!!!
post #22 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
I mapquested from my house to Paradise and from my house to Hell and I AM closer to Paradise!!!!
HOORAY!!!!
post #23 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by U.P. Racer View Post
HOORAY!!!!
Huh I, on the other hand, could be in Hell in about 15 minutes.
post #24 of 34
Anybody here ever hang out at the Gay Bar?http://www.thegaybar.com/
post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post
Anybody here ever hang out at the Gay Bar?http://www.thegaybar.com/
I've been to the Gay Bar.

Drinks this winter with Happy Fun Ball and Me after a day at Bohemia?
post #26 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by U.P. Racer View Post
I've been to the Gay Bar.

Drinks this winter with Happy Fun Ball and Me after a day at Bohemia?
I'll be the handsome devil in the corner wearing the aloha shirt.

Anybody ever ski Sleeping Bear dunes? That is for sure 40 degrees. And avalanche prone.
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post
I'll be the handsome devil in the corner wearing the aloha shirt.
I'll be watching for you. Happy Fun ball will be the guy you must not taunt.
post #28 of 34
I spent a lot of time at Sugarloaf in the early 70's because both of my parents were on the ski patrol there at the time. In the late 70's they instituted a policy putting a cap on the number of lift tickets sold each day to shorten the lift lines. It was a couple of bucks more but, it was well worth it. The last time I skied there was 1997. I'm glad I went back and skied there before they closed. It brought back a lot of great memories. In the early days, Awful Awful would be solid 4 - 5' moguls, top to bottom with a lot of ice in the troughs. One mistake and you would pick yourself up at the bottom. There was one instructor there, Jay Rusch, who would tuck that run, go back up and do Royal Christies of the tops of the bumps the next time. He was a lot of fun to watch for a young teenager! Thanks for starting this thread. It felt good to reflect back again.

Karl
post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post
Huh I, on the other hand, could be in Hell in about 15 minutes.
I went on the kayak trip to Hell two weeks ago.

(time to cue the people from PA who live near Climax or Intercourse)
post #30 of 34
I was on the SugarLoaf ski school from 1975-1997.

Jay was just one of a number of teriffic athletes who could bomb that hill's bumps with aplomb. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were more PSIA-C examiners on the SugarLoaf staff than any other hill in the Midwest, I believe.

Manitou had been an established, narrow, relatively steep slope off to the side of Awful Awful for some time before they built an elevated start shack and hollowed out a hole at the bottom you had to climb out of to get to the base of the lift. They just kept digging until they had the minimum length to qualify for FIS points.

SugarLoaf sticks up above Lake Michigan, providing a wonderful view and a lot of wind. Not so much cold, though, because the lake moderates the temperatures well into the winter. Makes snowmaking more difficult. Many other areas in the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan have better early season snowmaking conditions. Every Michigan resort except Bohemia needs snowmaking, and Bohemia would need it too if they had any traffic.

The weather and the fact none of the owners ever paid sufficient attention to upkeep meant the thing just aged into the ground. Today, it would require a complete overhaul--replacing buildings, lifts, snowmaking plumbing--to make it operable again.
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