UP ski hills preparing for upcoming winter season

This is a recording of the TV6 Early News.
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 4:48 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2023 at 8:07 PM EST
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HANCOCK & MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - While there is no snow on most U.P. ski hills at the moment, preparations are underway for the upcoming season.

Mont Ripley in Hancock and Marquette Mountain in Marquette have been mostly barren for the month of November. Both are already taking steps to cover the slopes in fresh powder for the skiing and snowboarding season.

Mont Ripley General Manager Nick Sirdenis said tools are ready to make snow by next week.

“Our average days of opening, it’s around Dec. 9 or something like that. So that would probably be our earliest opening is going to be that second weekend of December and that’s what we would shoot for. Then you know we would open up one trail and move guns off of that trail because it’s fully snowed in,” Sirdenis said.

Sirdenis said the date could change depending on the temperatures in the next few weeks. For Marquette Mountain, on average, opening weekend is around Dec. 2.

Marquette Mountain General Manager Kaet Johnson said the recent warm temperatures could impact the timeline.

“You know, we were hoping to get some runs open for Dec. 2. We may still but you know this time last year, we were already blowing snow and we haven’t been able to,” Johnson said.

Sirdenis said the key factor going forward is cool enough temperatures and low humidity to be able to create snow and for it to stick. Both Sirdenis and Johnson say they are already looking forward to the holiday business.

“The holidays are huge for us and for everybody in the Upper Peninsula, probably more so for others. For us it’s about 20% of our business for the year, the Christmas holiday,” Sirdenis said.

“We do everything we are able to do to get open for the Christmas season, the Christmas time frame and the weeks after that, between Christmas and the first, that’s when we get a lot of people in town who want to ski and ride,” Johnson said.

Both hills are selling season passes. Sirdenis and Johnson say to keep an eye on social media for when the slopes open up for the season.

Meanwhile, Ski Brule started making snow in October for an anticipated Nov. 10 opening. The resort is now targeting Thanksgiving Day to open for the 2023-24 season.