Climbing the Pine Mountain Ski Jump is one of the more dangerous things to do in the Upper Peninsula, at least as far as the popular destinations go.
The “stairs” leading to the top consist mostly of two by fours screwed to the deck. And there is a handrail, but if you pass someone making their decent on your way up one of you needs to let go for a hair raising moment. And if you should trip and fall, you risk tumbling straight to the bottom. And that would hurt. A-lot.
But man, what an awesome view from up there!
The Pine Mountain Ski Jump is one of the tallest ski jumps in the world. And during the FIS Continental Cup Ski Jump Competition held every February, more than 20,000 people gather here to watch ski jumpers from all over the globe rocket down the man made slope at over sixty miles per hour.
On the weekend of “the jumps,” you won’t be able to get anywhere near the top unless you’re part of the event.
But on just about any other day of the year, the Pine Mountain Ski jump is yours to climb at your own risk.
I often climb the Pine Mountain Stairs and sometimes, if I’m feeling adventurous (and not too out of shape), I’ll keep going and climb the ski jump.
Keep in mind that this ski jump is built to be climbed by ski jumpers, not tourists in tennis shoes. If you’re looking for an elevator to take you to the top like the one at Copper Peak in Ironwood, you won’t find it here.
What you will find is a handrail, some basic stairs and a very steep incline.
I like to take my time on the way up and then hang out at the top for a while to enjoy the view. And always make sure to hang onto something. You never know when a stray gust of wind could kick up and make you lose your footing. (It’s happened.)
One of my recent climbs to the top was particularly memorable.
On the way up I met Chad Laughlin of Ohio, whose Grandfather (James Dillan Laughlin) actually helped construct the ski jump. Chad said his family visits the area every year and climbs the jump in remembrance of his Grandpa.
Chad was on his way down as I was on my way up, and when I reached the top I met more people, David and Gordy, who were visiting from Wisconsin. It was their first time climbing the jump.
Shortly after I struck up a conversation with them, a nine year old girl popped up from down below. It turns out she had climbed up all by herself! (I wouldn’t recommend letting kids climb unsupervised.)
All in all I ended up being on the jump for about half an hour just talking to different people. It’s a fun place to make conversation. And after all, there’s really no room to casually “look the other way,” and if you do meet someone at the top of the jump, they’re likely to be just as adventurous as you are.
Who knows, maybe you’ll even see me up there?
To see more photos of the Pine Mountain Ski Jump, click here to access my Facebook page and then and then browse to the “Pine Mountain Ski Jump” photo album. (You’ll need to “like” the page if you haven’t already)
Bottom line: Climbing the Pine Mountain Ski Jump is one of the top things to do in the Iron Mountain area, if you’ve got a few adventurous bones in your body. And if you’re not up for the climb, the adjacent observation deck offers a sweet view too.
How to get there: From downtown Iron Mountain, take US 2 west and turn left onto Kent St. by the Pine Mountain sign. After a few blocks, turn right on Forest St., then a quick left onto Walker St., then veer right onto Kramer Dr. Kramer dead ends into the parking lot.
Other things to note: Be careful. And if you injure yourself, please don’t sue me.
Map: To see Pine Mountain Ski Jump’s location on my map of the U.P., click here.