In the 1990s, than owner Jim Helsinga, a Sault Ste. Marie businessman, claimed that 40 to 50-percent of the roughly 100,000 ski area visits they had per winter came from Michigan and Chicago. Today, Searchmont, under new Canadian ownership, isn't spending a dime to advertise in the Lower 48. Higher gas prices, a lower American dollar value compared to the Canadian dollar, longer lines to cross the border, and now the new passport requirements have taken their toll. It used to be so simple. A few hundred Traverse City, Michigan, skiers and riders, where I live just three hours below Sault Ste. Marie, used to routinely head up to Searchmont for a winter getaway every season. Now few, if any, make the trip.