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  1. Mont Orford was the destination choice today to start off the 2018-19 season. There were other options that were thought of that involved a bit of travel, however I decided to stick to something nearby. This would be Orford's second weekend of operation. With the dump of snow this past week Orford was a good choice. All of Giroux North was open counting for about a dozen trails with the Giroux North Quad giving access. I arrived at the mountain at 8:45 under cloudy skies and the temperature hovering around 0 to -1 Celsius. I met up with an old friend of mine from my Owl's Head days so this venture was not a solo one. There was a decent crowd, but the wait in line was no more than a minute or so if that. I wouldn't even consider this a wait. Everything was flowing smoothly in line. Today you were skiing on a mix of groomed man made and packed natural snow that was a bit damp from the mild temperatures that followed the storm. Nothing slushy or springlike, just good snowball making snow. Base was nice and forgiving. Majority of the trails open on Giroux North were on natural snow, with the exception of maybe one or two trails. Sure there were some spots that you had to be careful with and had to pay attention to, but the overall coverage was pretty decent for natural snow alone. It's what you would expect at the beginning of the season. The first run was down the Familale with the next down the Alternative into the l'Initiation, some other nice easy trails that led back to the quad. The Magog and the Jean-Davignon, the intermediate trails I skied today were a good test for early season legs and mine seemed to be happy with these choices of trails. The Familale: The Jean-Davignon: After a few more runs, the last being down the Magog into the Pente Douce, I was done by noon. The legs weren't screaming, but I did start to feel it and decided not to push them any longer. 7 runs were enough for the first day of the new season. The Magnum was open as well but I took a pass on this one. We will get to it later in the season. It was a good first day out of hopefully many more of the season. Here are a few more scenes of the day: The Magnum: The Magnum and the Jean-Davignon: The Pente Douce:
  2. Today's choice of destination was Mont Orford. What a beautiful bluebird sky! I arrived at Orford at 8:15 and the temperature was just below 0 but felt warmer in the bright sun. Spring was definitely in the air today. Parking was pretty decent and the walk was not long to the chalet. Crossing the foot bridge from the parking lot to the chalet, the brook was flowing with a strong current, and the sound of spring welcomed you to the mountain. The Hybride, Giroux North and East Quads, and even the double chair on Alfred Desrochers was in operation. The coverage was still pretty decent with a few typical spring icy patches starting to appear, along with some bare patches on Alfred Desrochers. The start of the day was on groomed granular snow on a firm base but that quickly softened up as the morning progressed. There is still snow in the woods but not all of the glade runs were open. The bottom of the Maxi with the Rapido Triple chair: The first runs were up the Hybride, and down the Trois-Russeaux, Grande Coulee, and the long easy cruiser, the 4km. At this time the snow was mostly groomed granular and the base was still firm, but in places you could tell it was starting to soften up. The Trois Ruisseaux: Grand Coulee: The middle part of the 4km: The next sector to ski was Alfred Desrochers. Here there is no snowmaking and the skiing is on natural snow. The coverage here was still pretty good, with one section that needed your attention as it was getting pretty thin on this one pitch. The rest was fantastic! Here it was classic spring skiing at its best. There are multiple brooks running through and they were starting to open up. The sound of the water rushing down the mountain was quite soothing as you rode up the chair. The Grande Allee: The Toussiski: From here it was on to Giroux North and East. The snow on the Slalom was by now soft and definitely spring like. Coverage on Giroux East was still pretty decent. No bare spots, just the typical spring ice patch. The Sherbrooke was well covered and spring like. The Slalom: Giroux East The Sherbrooke: Giroux East The Magnum: Giroux North The day was excellent. The wait at the Hybride by late morning was not more than 5 minutes. There was pretty much no waiting in the singles line at Giroux North, with no wait on Giroux East. There was zero wait at the Alfred Desrochers double. I skied from opening at 8:30 until 12:30 taking my time and enjoying the scenery along with the terrific spring skiing. I finished the day skiing Alfred Desrochers for the last hour. The ride is a bit long but actually relaxing with the sounds of spring rushing down the mountain below the lift. The sound of a rushing brook while riding up was quite soothing. I find that this area of the mountain is one of my favorites and I find myself often heading over to this section to get away from the crowds. By the time I left the temperature was +6 degrees with a light breeze that felt nice riding up the lift. An Easter Saturday morning well spent. Here are a few other scenes from the morning: An open brook in the Alfred Desrochers sector:
  3. Good news. Mont Alfred Desrochers at Mont Orford is now open. Come enjoy the amazing natural snow trails of the mountain. Photo from Mont Orford’s Facebook page.
  4. Being a big fan of skiing in the Eastern Townships, today's destination was Mont Orford, known for having one of the highest vertical drops in Quebec. This was my second visit ever to Orford. The drive was smooth with no traffic, although a bit long from Gatineau (about 3h40). Taking the highway 30 to bypass Montreal definitely saves a lot of time and frustration. Arriving at 10am, the mountain was already starting to fill up with cars but nothing major. The weather was much warmer than it has been recently and the sun was starting to shine. Heading into the main chalet, I was quickly impressed by the sheer size of it, spread across 4 levels, that begged me to quickly drop my bags and go explore. Of particular note, there is a nice sandwich/coffee bar on the same level as the customer service. Quickly putting on my boots and gear, I venture on outside and head towards the main lift of the mountain, l'Hybride. This unique lift in Quebec is a combination 6-passenger chairlift and 8-passenger gondola. The wait at all lifts was non-existent all day, which was great. (That's why we ski during the week!) l'Hybride (6-passenger chairlift and 8-passenger gondola combination). This was what the lift lines looked like all day. After a quick ride to the top, I started off with the 4KM trail, that winds its way down the mountain. Narrow for the first third then opening up for the rest, this fun trail takes you down while following along the very edge of the mountain, making for a great experience. As you continue down, you can catch several great vantage points that allow you to spot the nearby Mont Giroux side of the resort, highlighting just how big and expansive Orford really is. Overall, the ski conditions were very good, with a firm base and well groomed. The snow was great all over, and the mountain was engaged in snowmaking operations at various locations, notably the mid-section and the summit, to help refresh the trails. Changing things up a bit, I headed over to take the Mont Giroux North quad up to the other summit, and then head down Slalom on Giroux East. Of all the trails I skied, this one had several icy patches all along the way down. Sherbrooke was in better shape. Perhaps the difference in the ski conditions on this side is due to its orientation with the sun. Slalom Sherbrooke The base of Mont Giroux East (some of the locals doing quality control on the snow and giving two beaks up ). Continuing my exploration, I return to Giroux North and ski a good selection of the trails located there. Magog, one of the intermediate trails was in great condition. Trails on Mont Giroux North. After exploring Mont Giroux, it was time to return to the summit of Mont Orford to ski the Trois-Ruisseaux trail. The drop into the main section of Trois-Ruisseaux is simply impressive. Passing underneath the lifts in a fairly dramatic way, this trail was definitely a lot of fun. Lots of drops and turns, it felt like a Formula 1 race down the mountain. Of course, the scenery and views were also impressive, making me stop a few times to snap some photos. Catching a glimpse of Mont Giroux from Trois-Ruisseaux. Trois-Ruisseaux. Maxi. This was pretty much my day, lapping my runs one after another, clocking in some serious vertical and having a great time on the slopes. I will admit, I did return more than a few times to the 4KM trail, it was just that fun and enjoyable. While packing up and heading home, I review my day at Orford, coming away very satisfied and happy with my decision to visit. The mountain offers plenty of trails to enjoy and discover for all skill levels, with a particular emphasis on being able to please advanced and expert skiers with the terrain selection (something most mountains often fall short on). The skiing was great, the terrain exciting and impressive, and the chalet large and expansive. I could not ask for more, it was a perfect day! Happy skiing!
  5. After the Siberian like deep freeze we just experienced this past week and a bit, and with the announced temperature of -10 or so today, a trip to Mont Orford was the selected destination............. like everyone else had the same idea! I arrived at the mountain at 8:20 in hopes of finding a decent parking spot. There were cars from both directions rolling in and it wasn't about to slow down anytime soon. I did manage to find decent parking before the mad rush. Temperature on arrival was -11. A lot more bearable than the -20 or so with the last outing. 30/44 trails were open along with 8/17 glade trails were open along with the Hybride six seater/gondola combo lift and the Giroux North Quad. The Alfred-Desrochers double chair and sector was not open. The first runs were up the Hybride to ski the 4km trail and then the Grande Coulée. There was a nice little surprise of 10-15 centimeters of snow that fell during the night before. The trails were groomed but this nice light fluffy carpet covered the corduroy left behind from the snow cats. So basically this turned into a bit of a powder day! With the amount of skiers ahead of me, the Grande Coulée was "bumped" up a bit but with the snow being so fluffy, those bumps were not hard whatsoever. You could ski right through them and you were whisking up the powder behind you. The 4km Trail, mid & lower sections: The Grande Coulée: Then it was on to the Giroux North Quad for a few runs there.The conditions there were the same with the nice fluffy powder on the trails there. The Magnum was closed due to snowmaking, but the other trails were open. Giroux East was closed while snowmaking there was taking place to get that sector open. By this time, 10:30, the line up for the Giroux North Quad was approaching a good 10 minutes, and the traffic was well directed. Single skiers and doubles were being paired up to fill every chair going up. View of the Giroux North Quad from the Hybride: Some of the trails on Giroux North - The Pente Douce: The Famillale: The Top of the Giroux North Quad/ Magog Trail: The last run up the Hybride at 11:00 to take one last run on the 4km trail, the wait in line was now edging to 25 minutes. The wait for the gondola cabins was a little longer as there are 3 or 4 chairs in between each cabin. I am in the middle of the pack here in this photo. There were a ton of skiers behind me. I stopped at 12:30 after only 6 runs. The wait times in line ate up a good part of the morning. Even though there were only 6 runs, I covered a fair bit of terrain as one run down Giroux North consisted of skiing on multiple different trails along the way. It started to get a touch icy some high traffic areas but overall the conditions were excellent. There will be another visit or two this season to be had at Mont Orford. Here are a few more scenes from the morning:
  6. Yesterday the Quebec provincial government announced $7.5 million in investments to allow improvement to 4 Quebec ski areas. Orford will receive $3 million, to allow it to improve it's snowmaking system, to have event infrastructure to allow four-season activities, as well as the modernization and expansion of the main chalet, which will have a terrace added. Bromont receives $1.5 million, to allow it to move ahead with its 2017-2023 plan. Improvements to snowmaking, and expansion of the beginner slope. Improvements to other trails and the addition of night skiing to others. There is also mention of plans to replace the main Versant du Village detachable chairlift with something of higher capacity. Sutton receives $1.6 million, which will allow it to improve snowmaking and grooming of trails, as well as adding a loading carpet to the #4 quad chair. They also mention improvements to the four season activity offerings. At Vallée du Parc (in Mauricie) received $1.5 million, which among other things will allow the replacement of the t-bar with a new quad chairlift. Snowmaking, trail, night skiing, and chalet improvements were also announced. Here is a link to some news on what's to come at Bromont. They mention the summit chalet may hover around 200 seats, and also be the home to the ski patrol. Also mentioned is that a new six-passenger detachable lift will replace the existing high-speed quad that dates to 1985, and it will be constructed by Doppelmayr. https://www.lavoixdelest.ca/actualites/deux-projets-majeurs-pour-bromont-montagne-dexperiences-0838189cde21ec7ff87eaec4beef3700
  7. The choice today to pretty much end my 2016-17 ski season was Mont Orford. I have ended 3 of the past 4 seasons here and what a day to close out the year! Today had been announced that Orford would be closing for the season due to the weather for Easter Sunday and Monday not being great with rain in the forecast for the Townships. Beautiful bluebird sky to start, really mild, and true spring skiing at its best were to be had. 2 lifts were spinning, the Hybride, a 6 seater chair/gondola serving the Trois Ruisseaux and Grand Coulée trails on Mount Orford, and the Mont Giroux North Quad serving the Magnum, Jean-Davignon, Magog and Pente Douce trails. The conditions were fantastic, true spring skiing with corn snow on a soft base. The first runs were up the Hybride to the Trois Ruisseaux (3 Creeks Trail) and the Grande Coulée. Trois Ruisseaux - Top, Middle, and Bottom: The Grand Coulée: The groomers had been out the night before to fix up some areas as the top of the Jean-Davignon was just wide enough to pass by to get to the main pitch were coverage was complete. The Magnum, which is a single black diamond trail to the left side of the Giroux North Quad heading up, was pretty tricky at the beginning not being groomed and with rocks pushing through but once you got past that section the coverage was decent. The bumps that started to appear during the morning were so soft that you could practically ski through them that's how nice and forgiving the snow was. The Magnum: The Jean-Davignon: The line up for either lift was pretty much non-existent but later on in the morning around 10:30 or so, the Hybride experienced some troubles with the synchronization with the spacing of the chairs and gondolas that they had to close it to the public and have them ski the Giroux North Quad, which increased the wait time to no more that five minutes or so, with the assistance of one operator directing traffic and the other watching the loading of the chairs. The line moved very efficiently and loading was a breeze. Well organized with the Hybride off line. By 12:30 and after 10 runs, my knees were saying that's enough. I would normally ski longer but I listened to them and didn't push them any harder, risking any serious injury. This is most likely my last report of the season. I am glad that I found SlopeEdge albeit mid-season this year, and I am planning on being back with you for 2017-18 for a full season of reports and discoveries like this year's Mount Abram and Whaleback outings. All the best for the summer and Peace Out! Paul
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