MOUNTAIN LIFE - Blue Mountains | Winter 2019

80 ML BLUE WINTER 2019 Enn Poldmaa is no newbie to the world of backcountry skiing and exploration. He’s been at it for over 30 years now. His lodge is the epicentre of backcountry skiing in Ontario. Just north of Sault Ste. Marie, Enn, along with his wife Robin MacIntyre and a merry group of telemark skiers have been glading the 2,000 acres behind Bellevue Valley Lodge since 1986. They try to maintain that by doing 300 hours of clearing per season. Now with 20 runs, each with about 700 feet of fall line, if you’re ready to earn your turns, this is the place to do it. With runs like the Undertaker, the Overtaker, Vortex of Pain and the Pyramid, skiing in Ontario doesn’t get any better. We’ve spent the past four days skiing with Enn. For our warm-up day we skied Searchmont Resort; the local ski hill is only 20 minutes away from Enn’s place. With 700 feet of vertical, three lifts, one Poma and 336cm of average yearly snowfall, Searchmont is right in the snow belt of the lake-effect snow that blows off Superior. The locals are absolute rippers and are more than willing to show us the goods. We absolutely nailed it in terms of conditions; we bounced through knee- deep pow with the locals. We hit groomers, tree runs and the terrain park. It was one of those days you laugh about when looking back: just tons of fun, powder-hunting shenanigans with new and old friends. The next three days we spent exploring the terrain at Bellevue Valley Lodge. The Lodge is an all-inclusive affair: for the time 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 (although helping with dishes is appreciated), grocery-shop, or open our wallets. It’s the perfect vacation (if covering 3,000 feet of vert a day is considered a vacation). Home-cooked meals and packed lunches can be customized to suit any dietary need, so all we need to think about is skiing and snowboarding. Thankfully, Enn has a similarly obsessed one-track mind. 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. During our three days skiing at Enn’s we never ski the same run twice. We’re blessed with knee-deep powder everywhere we go. And when the day is over, his 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. Standing atop the couloir this feels like an expedition; we started the mission before first light and we’ll be lucky to get back to the highway before dark. TOP Hunting for the deep stuff. MIDDLE Logan Stanley and an elusive Eastern face shot. BOTTOM Bellevue Valley Lodge.