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  1. This micro trip report is brought to you by a lack of sleep the previous night. Made it to the hill at 3:15 but I didn't read the fine print, closing was at 4pm! Just enough time for a few good runs on this snowy day with 20 cm of freshly fallen sticky powder. This is the first time so far that we had to wait in a line to get on the chair, there were a ton of people out. And while Nordique and the Rockstar park (top) were roped off, it wasn't stopping people from dipping under the line, with many fresh tracks covering the runs - definitely for rock skis. After the lift closed we headed over to Axis Boutique and met some familiar faces from AKAMP. The day was a tease and I'll be back tomorrow to enjoy more of it! Nordique top is significantly improved over last week's bare grass. L'Etoile brought a steady stream of skiers and riders up to the top of 70 Ouest. It was pretty grey with a lot of blowing wind, but still not too cold. The view looking towards the base and not yet open Atomic chair. Ilana getting ready to shred!
  2. I had initially planned to go to Saint-Sauveur on Saturday but the anticipated night skiing didn't happen due to the weather. So I headed up on Sunday afternoon, arriving around 3:30 to the beginning of sunset. Some people were still arriving and some were leaving and mentioned it was pretty icy, which wasn't surprising given last week's rain. I got ready and headed to L'Etoile, currently the only running chairlift serving the 70 Ouest. What a difference a week makes - compared to the previous week's coverage of natural snow, the Nordique was almost bare all the way up, with just a few snowy patches remaining. The 70 Ouest itself had corn in some spots but for the most part was thin cover over ice, with some short sections of only ice. Sharp edges were useful here! The snowpark also changed as the pipe was out and only the rail remained, but people were still lined up to ride it. The top section of the bottom pitch was pretty bald and even had tall grass poking through in spots - definitely a good day for rock skis. Still, there was just enough coverage that you could avoid the ice by making tight turns to the base....and then do it all over again. Definitely got a few careful descents in and met a lot of happy people out for the first time this season. Nordique bottom has melted Nordique top is looking bare. The 70 West shrank a little bit at the top. Sunset looking towards La Plagne. I don't think this is going to open for a while.... On 70 Ouest mid hill looking up. On 70 Ouest looking downhill on the last run of the day. Obligatory chairlift self-portrait.
  3. Sommet Saint-Sauveur surprised with an early opening Friday, but it wasn't until Saturday evening that I was able to head up, and it seems as though I picked the perfect time! As I started walking to the car with all my gear, heavy and wet flurries were falling from the sky. So much so that I had to turn back to rescue my balcony herbs from certain death! I got on the road just after 6:30 and was cruising along steadily in the storm when I realized how slick the roads were as there were no salt trucks up and running. It ended up being a rather slow drive, and I pulled into the parking lot just after 7:30 for the first night ski of the season. I picked up my Passe Parfait, and headed to l'Etoile for a ride in the falling snow -- it was really coming down! The snowmaking of the previous week has made a nice solid base, and the amount of snow coming down kept a fresh layer of powder on the 70 Ouest, the only run currently open. I thought for sure my skis would stick to the heavy, wet, snow but it was just cold enough that conditions were slick. The coverage was pretty consistent with a few icy spots just under the surface, and I was thrilled to arrive at the bottom pitch to see the moguls that had already formed from just a day of skiing! On my last run, I took my time and the snow started to taper off. As I arrived at the bottom, I kept going, and going...suddenly realizing I'd almost made it to the parking lot. And that the the snow was just thinly covering the concrete on the path beneath with my skis just grazing it. It was a short and sweet night, but a good one - the first powder of the year! I headed home for a delicious apres-ski of homemade mac n cheese & jerk chicken, and to get ready to do it all again on Sunday! Riding up l'Etoile, just look at that powder! Second ride up l'Etoile, you can see the thin coverage on bottom. I don't think they've been making snow on this one, it looks like natural coverage but is coming along nicely tonight. Nordique near the top. The Snoprk already has two features set up, a box and a pipe. I caught this guy as he went over the box. Look at those moguls and that snow coming down!! Last run of the evening, and the snow is tapering off. Looking back up the 70 Ouest from the bottom! I glided towards the parking lot until things got scrapey! It was a quick night but the perfect first night skiing of the season!
  4. It's a story every Canadian has heard through their lifetime: An American family plans their summer vacation in Canada, looking forward to getting away from the sweltering heat. They pack up their skis and boards on their roof rack and head to the border. As they cross, they tell the border guy that the purpose of their trip is to go skiing/riding. The border guy laughs and laughs, but waves them through anyways, wishing them a great trip It turns out this isn't a myth. Skiing in July is real! AKAMP is a special sort of unicorn, born 11 years ago by some guy in Saint-Sauveur who thought it would be a great idea to run a summer ski/ride camp. The first few years, I'm told, he put in thousands of dollars out of his own pocket to make this event happen. Over time, the word has spread, bringing skiers and riders from all over to participate in this oasis of a snowpark. Currently organized by David of Axis Boutique and his dedicated crew, the camp schedule includes daytime, evening, and full day sessions, with the snowpark changing form every day with new jumps, pipes, boxes and rails for people to ski/ride over. Located on the Mont Avila side next to the L'Express lift, which serves as the bike park lift in the summer, the snow from the season's big jumps is preserved by mountains of hay covering it from May until the snowcamp opened on Friday June 29th. The preservation is remarkable. I heard about AKAMP in summer 2017 after it had already passed, and it wasn't really on my radar because I don't do park, and assumed most of the participants were well skilled park skiers/riders with a goal to keep up their technique. Earlier in the season, I'd seen the women-only "Pineapple Jam" event promotion and thought to myself that skiing in July would be a pretty unique experience. So I dropped AKAMP a message asking about whether it would be acceptable for a non-park skier to participate while being mindful of other participants using the park features. I was delighted to hear that participation was welcome (naturally, helmet is required and safety gear is recommended). So I rented a car and planned to attend an evening session (I am not a morning person and the extra fees would have been a waste). AKAMP pricing offers an early bird rate which I'd missed out on back in April as I wasn't committed to attending at that time. The pricing for last minute arrivals is $100 for a full day, or $70 for an evening. I happened to have some cash on hand, but for sure anyone with a tighter budget would be well advised to plan their participation early and take advantage of the early bird offer or volunteer opportunities. My first evening at AKAMP was on Saturday June 30th. As you'll recall, that particular week was near 40 C with humidex, and I couldn't have been happier to get up to the mountain and be in the cool refreshing air as the mist poured off the glacier. I wore a super comfortable dress and my usual ski wig getup. What I hadn't anticipated was the need for gloves with good grip. The reason for this is that the mechanical lift running is a rope tow, and thin or slick gloves will surely give you rope burn, as I learned the first night. Also, I've used t-bars and pomo lifts, but rope tow is entirely new to me. To catch the rope tow, you climb to the top of a platform and drop in off of a skate ramp style plywood board. The drop actually *looks* pretty steep even though it is a short drop, and for someone who doesn't do well on the high diving board, negotiating the ramp took a bit of practice for me until I got the swing of it. I totally bailed on my first try with my weight too far back, and graciously accepted some coaching on the part of the rope tow operator. The guys running it were super helpful and supportive, and I managed to catch it on my second try -- this is the point I understood the need for gloves with good grip. I managed to hold on til about halfway up the rope, before deciding to let go and not give myself rope burn. Still, I was stoked and ready to ride down and try it again! The quality of snow by that time of the day was pretty slick and spring scrapeyness - having edges and wax from my last spring trip was a huge asset. I headed back to my car to grab my crash pants (that first fall was a little hard on my right hip), and my snowboarding wrist guards. The operator felt they weren't ideal, but it was the best option I felt I had to work with. On that run, I managed to get 2/3 of the way to the top before my wrist guards started sliding a bit. After that, I decided to just hike up, which I did about three times. And that actually helped a lot as a warmup technique! Here is where things become magical: as the sun was setting, there were fireflies flickering all over the field, and flashes of light from the storm to the south. It was an ethereal experience. I decided to do another evening the following day, which was the pineapple jam - this time with the correct gloves. On Canada Day, I headed up for the evening session, this time armed with about five pairs of gloves as I wasn't sure which would have the best grip. I brought my partner Scott, a non-skier who enjoyed himself just hanging out with some beers and a good book, while sitting in the cooling mist flowing off the park. My snowboarding buddy Ilana also joined that evening. The Pineapple Jam is a women only evening, and it was really something special to be in an environment with women of all ages and kids as well, sharing knowledge and information. Highlights of the night, a young girl skier went off a jump and did a backflip, followed by a woman from Killington's Darkside Boards doing a 360 cork! It was as amazing to watch as it was fun to ski (around the features for me, lol). Towards the end of the day I brought my wings up the rope tow, and flapped down the hill. I can't do park, but I sure can do costume! The plan had been after 9pm to open the wave pool to all AKAMP participants for surfing lessons, but unfortunately with so many people escaping the heat in the pool that day, they had to shut it down to clean it at night. In lieu of that, they opened the waterslide and the t-bar on the Saint-Sauveur side for us instead! Many pina coladas were had. On July 2nd, I decided I hadn't had enough and headed back up for another evening session. On this evening, there was a huge and fast rainstorm about a half an hour before I got there. While AKAMP operates rain or shine, of course they do pause for potentially dangerous conditions with high winds, lightning, and fast falling rain. We arrived just after the storm as the evening was getting back into swing, and the rain benefitted the snow giving it a top layer of corn! That evening, I met a snowboarder from Portsmouth, NH, who had attended the previous year, and a guy and his two teenage son skiers from Toronto. Some of the women from the previous day were still in attendance as well. Once again, it was a great vibe with fantastic weather and people. And, the cool air and mist was a welcome relief from the heat of the city. On the 3rd, I unfortunately wasn't able to attend due to looming deadlines at work, and I had a few appointments in Ottawa -- but that didn't stop me from returning on the 4th! I arrived much later than I would have liked, but was still glad for the opportunity to participate once again. Having taken a day off, I had to renegotiate with the rope tow, falling once again on my first try (I gotta keep my weight forward!), but getting back into the swing of things afterwards. Many of the same participants were still there, and we celebrated the end of the AKAMP with a bbq hot dog feast afterwards. I spent a few moments chatting with the organizer who gave me a brief history of AKAMP (noted above), and also discussed how next year he was going to aim to go a few days longer, by investing more in the hay to preserve conditions -- the snow had held up and would even be good to go for the next few days! For insurance reasons though, they planned to bulldoze the park features so that no one doing a rogue session could injure themselves. Nevertheless, my friend and a few others made it up that day and reported back that on the night of the 5th, conditions were still great. I am told it had all melted into a patch by the 8th. The camp format is highly participatory and offers informal coaching and not formal workshops. T I think this is to a huge advantage of the event, because it builds up the community and allows people to demonstrate supportiveness to their fellow skier/riders and share knowledge. (Apparently some pros are on hand to share information and offer technique advice in a convivial environment, but I'm not up on the who's who and wouldn't have recognized these highly skilled folks). The camp is open to skiers and riders of all ages and skill levels and definitely encourages families. It was great to see kids of all ages and families out there! here are a few vendors and I think a few contests (not competitions) during the daytime to win gear. There aren't food/drink vendors, but the great thing about that is you can bring your own. Next year, I anticipate spending the weekend up there and bringing along picnics for daytime participation. I have to offer massive respect to all the organizers of AKAMP who put so much work and investment into making it happen, and high fives to all the participants I met who were super good vibe. Also a special shoutout to the volunteers who worked to rebuild the snowpark into new features each day - they really did an incredible job. It was recommended to me by one guy to always bring a shovel, although I'm told some instruction in how to build a snowpark is essential to do it right. Skiing in July in 40 degree heat was a hell of a trip and one I can't wait to participate in next season. This year had the benefit of spectacular weather, sunny days and warmth, with little rain...maybe they got lucky. But AKAMP will run whether it is rain or shine, so I look forward to what the next year brings! June 30th, the mist rises off the park! June 30th looking up the hill. June 30th view down the hill! Evidence of fireflies (my camera doesn't do well in low light). My skis on the spring quality snow. Getting ready to fly down the hill! During the Pineapple Jam, I met Ria from Ottawa who rides in the winter, surfs and skates in the summer! July 1st pano from the top of the park! Ilana catching a ride uphill. Ilana getting ready to drop in. View of the park from the base, with mist rising off it, around 7:30PM July 2nd Me walking through basecamp. The drop in tower and ramp! I just missed this kid's jump! Stoked !!! on July 4th! A shoutout to all my American ski buddies and their love of diet bud! P Photo shamelessly stolen from the Sommet Sauveur facebook page, from June 29, 2018! From my perspective, it looks like 1/3 of the hill has coverage!
  5. The forecast was originally +16 and full sun, but of course things shift. I worried as I drove up that the sprinkles of rain would mean they'd close early, but I was pleased to arrive in the parking lot around 2:30 to one of the busiest afternoons I've seen in about a month! I fact it is the first day in about as long that I had to wait in a line to get on the lift. As everything near the Atomic lift had melted, lift service was via Etoile. I always enjoy the lazy spring rides on the Etoile to the sound of melting water underneath. Conditions were both slush bumps and ice, take your pick, scrape or get stuck. A fresh wax would have been of help that day, for sure. While most of Sauveur was open the previous week (well, all eight remaining runs), this week featured only Nordique, 70 Ouest, the Rockstar Park and surprising to me, two thirds of the bottom of 70 Est! I didn't get any snaps but could see from the highway where entire sections of Red Bird, Epervier and Jay had just melted away. The depth on 70 Ouest was still pretty good and I wouldn't be surprised if they make it to their anticipated new closing date of May 21st as they did two years back! Not long into my first few runs I caught up with my snowboarding friend and we did a number of pretty quick runs for the last hour of the day. We caught last chair, and were chased down the mountain by some surly ski patrol, who kept insisting grumpily that it's "the same thing every year" - at 5:01pm as his colleagues had not even gotten off the lift. The rest of the ski patrol, for their part, seemed to enjoy most of the afternoon sitting at the base of Etoile. I had wanted to grab a photo but didn't have time to pause in the lift line! At the end of the day, we decided to hike up the road along side La Plagne and ride down whatever was left of it. We were pleasantly surprised that the entire thing was still connected, although there were a few ice ribbons -- but no unstrapping required! Definitely those conditions were challenging for me and I "tripped" over some hard snow a few times midway down, and did better at the top. The day could only have improved with full sun! Nordique bottom looking a little mushy. I had bet it wouldn't last til the following weekend. The strip connecting Nordique and 70 Ouest, still in great condition! Top of Nordique looking good! Top of 70 Ouest, getting a bit thinner but still pretty decent. Top of 70 Ouest, another view. This is what's left of the top of La Plagne. Compared to the previous week, it's in pretty sad shape, but still entirely in one piece! Obligatory chairlift beer on the unoriginally named Cote 71 lift. A picture of a picture Sunset from the top of La Plagne, right before our descent. Closeup of the snow conditions. Really easy to catch an edge for the uninitiated! I practiced on this stuff for weeks at the end of last season but still find it challenging. Refueling for tomorrow with the cinco de tacos: homemade taco meat, guacamole, pico de gallo, lime chile corn, oaxaca cheese, frijoles and jarritos.
  6. Now the season has come to an end! With the announcement a short time ago that Sommet St. Sauveur was extending their season to May 26-27, I wasn't so sure it was going to happen, but it did! It was pretty much a last minute decision to go as the long range forecast from earlier in the week didn't look too promising, but it changed, like it normally does. So departure from Sherbrooke was scheduled for 6am to be sure that if there were delays, aka the Turcotte Exchange in Montreal, then I would still arrive on time for first runs.It was sunny when I left, but the closer I got to Montreal, it was starting to cloud over. I didn't drive into any rain. I arrived earlier than expected thanks to the little to no traffic on the island of Montreal. Smooth sailing and arrived in the parking lot at 8:15. Lift opened at 9:00. Nice wind down from the drive and took my time getting ready. I was 5th in line for first turns on the St. Sauveur glacier aka the 70 Ouest. All the snow that the Nordique had a couple of weeks ago is completely gone, with a patch near the top. The 70 Ouest had been groomed a bit as it was pretty smooth and soft with the typical spring type corn snow. The conditions were pretty good considering the melting and the mild temperatures in the past few weeks. The trail was just wide enough to pass through in some places but still decently covered. There were quite few people getting in their final turns of the season. Some were skiing on the grass for a short distance. The top of the Etoile and someone skiing the overland route: By noon it started to get roughed up in some spots where the snow had been skied off and ice started to appear, but it was soft enough that your edges were doing their job and wasn't as difficult as it is when it's 20 below zero. The bumps that started forming on the bottom pitch were soft enough to pretty much ski through. There was the usual mogul strip, but they too were getting pretty worn. After 14 runs and 3 hours of skiing it was time to call it a season. It started to sprinkle a bit around 11 but nothing too wet. This marks the latest end to the ski season ever for me. This season was the best season for me in quite sometime. Another year of reporting for SlopeEdge under my belt and hopefully many more. Until next season! Here are some more scenes of the day:
  7. Finally some real spring skiing. With the sun out and blue skies in abundance, I set out to end my ski season in style at the one and only Sommet Saint-Sauveur, known for being the first to open and last to close in Quebec. Sommet Saint-Sauveur and Killington down in Vermont are the only two mountains still operating lift-serviced skiing, so the experience is without a doubt special and unforgettable. After nearly a month of not seeing any snow in the city, it is definitely refreshing to arrive at the ski mountain and see plenty of white gold remaining on the slopes. Two trails were open today, the legendary 70 Ouest and the Nordique trails. 70 Ouest was open full width, top to bottom, while Nordique was open until the final pitch at the bottom, where you then had to cross over to 70 Ouest to finish. Arriving for shortly after 9am for a quick visit, the mountain looked to be in great shape right from the start. It is truly amazing how much snow remains. I can recall previous years where the snow was just enough to open, but this time, it was snow a plenty. There was even a snow path to return right to the terrace of the chalet. And for those liking numbers, the bottom pitch of 70 Ouest appeared to have over 10 feet thickness of snow, so the season will definitely continue past this weekend. The temperature at my arrival was around 6-10'c with a light wind. Always hard at this time of year to know exactly what to wear, but as my visit progressed, so did the hour to unzip the jacket and ride with just a shirt or sweater. Both 70 Ouest and Nordique are in excellent shape for this time of year. A firm base with soft snow on top made for delightful runs down the mountain. 70 Ouest being full width over its entire length allowed the possibility to vary the descents by following different lines down the run. Nordique was much of the same, although here the snow was a bit firmer due to its shelter from the sun. The only unfortunate note was that the bottom of Nordique was closed. The middle section of the final pitch had melted away, so a quick turn to the right to return to 70 Ouest was required. Passing this way highlighted the massive amounts of snow remaining on 70 Ouest. While I am no expert, I do believe that Sunday will be the last day for Nordique, and then all the action will shift to 70 Ouest to finish off the season. As for the rest of the trails across the mountains, some patches of snow remain here and there but nothing ultimately skiable. Of course, a large pile of snow remains, covered by sand on the versant Avila, to be used for the Akamp, beginning of July. The ambiance at the base was excellent. The end of season party was just starting to kick off, with live music, a BBQ and more. Of course, no visit to Sommet Saint-Sauveur is complete without a ride down the Viking alpine coaster. Rising straight up the mountain, and following the forest between Nordique and Saint-Sauveur ski trails, it offers another way to enjoy the great weather and the mountain. Sommet Saint-Sauveur is open again Sunday, as well as the coming long weekend of May 19-21st. With the snow remaining on 70 Ouest, it is hard to say if the season will indeed conclude next weekend. They have already added an extra weekend, who knows if another can't be added on as well. Regardless of when the end may be, this marked my final day of the season on snow. As we turn our attention to the warmer sports of hiking, cycling and kayaking, I can't help but be excited for the next season to come, already looking promising with lots of investments and improvements to look forward to... in 6 months time. Happy spring skiing. Here are some photos from today. The classic spring skiing view from the terrace of the chalet. 70 Ouest. Big moguls and bumps on 70 Ouest. Unbelievably impressive amount of snow remains on 70 Ouest. The base. Riding back up the Étoile chairlift. Nordique. The ambiance on the terrace. The #HappySkier signing off. Happy Spring Skiing!
  8. I checked my messages first thing when I woke up this morning at 11:30 to discover one from my snowboarding buddy telling me she was stuck at work but that Sauveur was open! I had a few things on my plate today but aimed to get up by 2:30. Of course the work day dragged on with one thing after another, but finally I made it out the door!! After a slow drive up the 15, I pulled into the parking lot, just before 4pm. Already a short day on the mountain, today's strategy: bomb all the runs!!! At this point, only 70 Ouest and part of the very bottom of 70 Est are open along with the top of Nordique, which is doing great with a few sketchy areas (imo it'll be done by Sunday). Unlike last week which was quite sticky and/or icy, the cool air and rain this week chilled things so that conditions were good slick spring corn. I did about 7-8 fast runs within the hour, and then ran some errands in Saint-Sauveur while awaiting return rush hour traffic to debate. No time to hike up with my board tonight as I had to get home for homemade margaritas and tacos. All in all a fantastic day, except for the part about being stuck at work longer than anticipated! (I swear I'm downloading my pics tonight. The ipod cable is right next to me. It's happening!! Stay tuned for photos edit to this post!). Nordique bottom is looking a little sad 10/10 would still ski! Nordique middle skis great! Nordique near the top - you can't see it but just beyond the edge there are some narrow and uncovered spots. Just another obligatory selfie with a view! I forgot to get some snaps of the top of 70 Ouest but it is still in great shape! This is the middle section before the final pitch. I'd say it's good for another week for sure! Beam me up! 70 Ouest pano! Starting to look pretty green out there! The little wooden platform to the right is my break spot when I hike up
  9. Three trip reports rolled into one! Pics to follow since I have yet to download from my phone, but I didn't want this trip report to sit too long! I was delighted to learn that Sommet Sauveur planned to open last Friday, given the weather was supposed to be full sun and +16 or so. I made it up to the mountain by 2:30pm, and met up with some friends around 3 - they had arrived a bit earlier and we eventually synced up. We skied every open run accessible by the Atomic lift, so, Epervier, Tom Barbeau, Red Bird, Jay, Cote 70 Est, Cote 70 Ouest, and Nordic. The Cote 71 lift wasn't running and the highest access point to La Plagne was closed, but truly you could take the time to hike over as all of these hills were still fully covered last Friday. In fact most of Avila appeared to be entirely covered as well, but I'm sure budget considerations played a factor in those lifts not being open. That said there was no line to speak of and so it was pretty easy to do continuous runs. On Friday, there were a few spots starting to show on Epervier, and its bottom and the bottom or Red Bird were getting pretty dirty and sloppy. As it was pretty warm, there were lots of sections that were a little slow, definitely a little fresh wax would have helped things. I'd waxed 2 or 3 weeks before (whatever the date I went to Jay) but even still things were a bit sluggish at points. the 70 Ouest bottom of course is covered now in perfectly aligned bumps, and there were a few ponds you could easily ride through next to the Atomic chair. It was an absolutely perfect afternoon! On Saturday, the forecast was cloudy with some rain. Typically Sauveur closes in the rain, but it happened the park event at the base was happening, so they posted that they were in fact going to be open til 5pm! I headed up for 3pm, intending to mostly ski and then do the last run on my board. On Saturday, since it had cooled down a bit and rained, I expected things to be slushier, but in fact, they were actually as good if not better than Friday - the cool air had made things slick again, so no sluggish moments near the base or in spots where the angle of the sun hits the hill just the right (or wrong?) way! It had been raining a bit on my drive up, but as I rolled into the parking lot, the sun came out and continued playing peekaboo through the afternoon. In the end I stayed on my skis and did all the open runs, since I didn't want to waste time switching to my board. Saturday turned out to be a great day! My snowboarding counterpart from the previous day spent her afternoon at Sutton and said conditions were still fantastic there! We intend to hit that this weekend. Finally, Sunday. You can't win em all I guess? Owing to a late night, I slept in until 1 and slacked until I finally decided to go to the mountain , despite the rain, and do just a few runs on my neglected board. I might not have, but they posted "we'll be open til 17h!" -- and given the chat I'd had with the bartender the previous day about Sunday's weather, I decided to believe this to be true. They usually close in rain like we had on Sunday, only they had some kind of event happening so anticipated being open regardless. I still had my doubts, and halfway up I started taking bets with myself that they'd actually close early, as usual. I arrived in the still full parking lot ony to discover the door to those glorious new bathrooms was locked, and I could see that of course the Atomic chair was no longer running. I'm guessing they shut down just after 3:30 as there were still a number of people packing up their cars. Not to be deterred, but not totally in the mood for a hike in the rain, I took a drive up the road that runs along La Plagne, just to see where it came out. It turns out you can easily access near the top of La Plagne from the top of that road. So, I drove back down, parked along the side of the road near the base, and did the only sensible thing a jaded and lazy snowboarder could do: I called a cab. It turns out you can get to the top of La Plagne for a totally reasonable $6 cab (and I tipped the driver nicely for such a short ride). Not having been groomed in a few weeks, La Plagne was starting to have that crusty spring topcoat. Since I'm still a beginner, I tend to take things slowly as I practice my turns, and so it was a nice slow run down in the rain, which was now more a mist than a downpour. Once at the bottom, I thought about going back up again but my psoas is super tight this week and I figured I should give it a rest. I was still pretty content with my run though, considering I would have only had time for 2-3 board runs anyways. And it was nice to ride down La Plagne one last time while it was still all in one piece. There was only one little mud slick in the middle, and other than that, it was great! *pics of all three days to follow as soon as I download them from my phone!* Illana shredding Jay on 4/29! Nordique bottom still looking good on 4/29 Fortifications! ...paired with class. Under the Atomic chair coming up to the top of 70 EST on 4/28 Looking down the top of Nordique on 4/28 The most consistently aligned bumps I've ever seen! Secret mission involving a taxi: Top of La Plagne on 4/29 La Plagne still fully covered on 4/29!
  10. I arrived at Sommet Sauveur around 3:30pm. It was warm enough to ski with my jacket open but not warm enough to switch to my spring hoodie. I managed to get runs in on Red Bird, Jay, 70 Est, 70 Ouest and Nordique, and I was surprised at how slushy conditions were for a day where it was still cool and not sunny. They must have gotten a lot of rain! Had it been a really busy day, there would have likely been a lot of soft bumps forming. Mostly the trails were slushy slow snow/corn, with just a few patchy spots starting to form on a few trails. I was delighted to have arrived just after a few friends and we managed to do a super quick run at the end to catch the last chair and take our time down the 70 Ouest. Since the rain prevented them from being open this past week, they are now staying open until Tuesday so we can take advantage of the sun! Not much time for snaps today but here are a few! "Bumps!" ya no kidding. Conditions on 70 Ouest bottom! Looking up 70 Ouest!
  11. Being already mid-April, it is quite amazing that Sommet Saint-Sauveur has virtually the entire mountain still open for skiing. Even more impressive, very little to no ice all over, and no bare spots. Add to this, the main SnoPrk on versant Avila is open one last time this weekend. The ski conditions were a mix of mostly hard base but as the day progressed and the trails were skied, a light layer of shaved snow presented itself. I know alot of people prefer the soft mushy snow, famous for its bumps, but with the continuing cold weather, those days are still to come. Luckily the mountain is well groomed and the surface quality is consistent from top to bottom, something I quite prefer. My day started when I arrived for 8:30am. Quickly getting ready, I hit the slopes by riding the Atomic Express. From here I immediately headed over to versant Avila. This area has an almost 90 degree change in orientation from the rest of Saint-Sauveur and is generally quieter to ski. After skiing the classics of versant Avila such as Jack Rabbit (a beginner trail with some zig-zags near the end) and Laurentian (an intermediate with a profiled slope of rolls and banked turns), I found myself on Express. This is a very wide trail, perfect for getting some speed and working on your carving technique. With a nice constant pitch all the way down, it's easy to get into a rhythm and keep it the whole way down. Express. From here, I returned to ski Dévaleuse and Côte 68, both intermediates and very popular for lessons. Côte 68. Then back to the Atomic to ski the famous 70 Est and Ouest. Both these trails give incredible views of the valley of Saint-Sauveur, and definitely pull you into that 'One More Run' loop. Côte 70 Est. Venturing all over the mountain I finally found myself on La Plagne skiing past the dream homes on the mountain. One day... Stadium. Jay. Saint-Sauveur. Nordique. Silver Park. With all the trails in great shape, only 2 trails, Jay and Côte 71 (both at the final bottom pitch) had some issues with ice. The rest, I couldn't have been happier. Today was also the Slush Cup race event, featuring banked turns and rolls, very reminiscent of a ski cross track. This year, the washrooms in the main chalet underwent a major renovation. While previously there were too few, now there is plenty. With an all-new amazing look filled with wintery landscapes, who knew going to the washroom while skiing could be so much fun. The sinks are quite innovative as they combine in one place, the soap dispenser, water and hand drying into one unit, further maximizing the space. Very neat. The washroom stalls themselves also have a large shelf available, perfect to place your helmet, gloves, and other gear. Details that go along way. Also relatively new on versant Avila is the Experience IntroPlus initiative for beginners. The area has been redesigned to encourage and assist in the learning process, complete with a mini half-pipe, banked turns, rolls and a perfect slope. Each section designed to allow a different aspect and skill of skiing to be learned and practiced, at your own pace in a safe environment. Still snow a-plenty on Côte 70 Ouest. (upper right). After an unknown but no doubt high number of runs down the mountain, my day ends after over 5 hours of skiing. Overall, a great visit and day to ski. With about a dozen ski areas left to operate after this weekend ends, Sommet Saint-Sauveur will no doubt have us spring skiing until mid-May. As they famously say during this time year, 'The grass is always greener at the neighbors', couldn't be truer of Sommet Saint-Sauveur. With snow a-plenty, come out and ski. The mountain always impresses and never disappoints by brings out what makes skiing great. Great trails, perfect ambiance, impressive views. Happy skiing!
  12. Sunday morning we woke up at the Cap Tremblant. I'd stayed up late after a night of puzzling over a 500 piece puzzle with many similar looking pieces. I already didn't have high hopes for a good day at Tremblant given Saturday's conditions, and the exceptionally crisp air confirmed my idea that it might be a better day to ski at Sauveur. After a delicious brunch of mushroom, onion, yellow pepper and swiss cheese omelettes, we packed up and headed to Sommet Sauveur. I actually saw that Mont Blanc was open Sunday and people were skiing at it, but I didn't figure the conditions would be much different from Tremblant and besides which the freezing rain storm was already on its way. We got to Sommet Sauveur around 3:30 and I skied most of the runs around the Atomic lift, although the bottom of 70 Ouest was closed due to the Slush Cup the previous day. Based on Shane's trip report, conditions had already significantly changed from Saturday, although they were still better than at Tremblant. Of course, just as I arrived to the mountain, it started spitting, and then icing (not quite rain, not quite snow), so skiing fast that day would get you an ice facial. They ended up closing the lift ten minutes early even though things were not getting worse (I mean, they really could have gone that last ten minutes so people could have one more run!). Still though, I managed to get in a good number of quick runs and a couple of snaps! Rose tint through the Bedouin Tech sunglasses! Yellow view of same spot. The splotches are rain drops. Ride up the chairlift and more flat light. This run was pretty decent, Jay, not so much. Even though the light is flat, these colours still pop!
  13. The most notable thing about working from home is that you can be in your office anywhere. So it came to be that my home office for the afternoon was Sommet Sauveur (more accurately, the delightful lounge of the Manoir Saint-Sauveur). I didn't have a whole lot of time to duck out for my "coffee break", but I took advantage of this sunny, bluebird afternoon to get in some runs for the last few hours of the day. Conditions were fantastic, good cover, with just a touch of scrape underneath. By the time I got on the hill it was in the plus temps but still with a chilly breeze. I hit Red Bird, Epervier, Jay, Cote 70 Est, Cote 70 Ouest (top) and Nordique hard and fast over the last hour of the day. There was a steady flow of people heading up the lift, but never any lines. With limited time to be out of the "office", I had time for just a few snaps! Heading up the Atomic lift! Another Atomic moment. Notice how the sun is not setting. Why exactly must the lift stop running at 5PM?! Cote 70 Ouest at the top! End of day pano on Nordique. So nice when you have the hill to yourself!
  14. It's the last week of night skiing at Sommet Sauveur! Saturday night was still pretty decent powder with a bit of scrapeyness underneath. I caught the last few hours of night skiing, and it was great! Monday I also got up for the last few hours, and it was *much* slicker with the dropping temps. Met up with some friends and did a few runs! Tuesday I arrived earlier around 4pm, and skied til sunset. Still slick but a bit mushier, signs of spring definitely showing. Finally, Wednesday (today) I got up around 4 again, to perfect spring conditions! I finally rode the length of a green trail on my board and didn't fall! After that I skiied about 7 runs until the migraine aura strobe of death started in my head, heralding the next barometric pressure shift. Not so great for me, but at least I got in some great daylight runs! I might be able to stop in tomorrow on the way to Tremblant! Time will tell. Here are some snaps! Saturday night by the not operational t-bar on Jay! Monday night, things are getting pretty slick! I forget which run this is. It's much steeper than it appears though. Tuesday, looking down cote 70 ouest. Today's cote 70 ouest pano, shades of grey!
  15. Headed up to "Sommet" Sauveur for some evening skiing! I started the night out on my board, at which I'm a super beginner. I took my sweet time on Red Bird, falling a few times more than last time. That'll learn me to warm up on my skis first! After deciding that was enough butt bruising for one night, I switched to my skis and hit Red Bird, Jay, Cote 70 Ouest and Est, and then capped it off with a few runs down La Plagne. Good coverage but definitely icy in some spots, overall a pretty scrapey night. Currently enjoying my apres-ski with homemade pizza and some dark & stormys, and about to use our shower to create a steam room with eucalyptus. We can always pretend we're at le nordik, right? Just catching the last of the sunset! Yes, there were bumps. Beautiful organized consistent in size and spacing bumps. no, I didn't ride on them tonight! To the right of the bumps it was pretty much sheet ice and crust unfortunately. The rest of the Cote 70 was pretty decent. If you look closely, you'll see the church in the distance right in between the signs
  16. Just announced on the Sommet Saint-Sauveur Facebook page, is an investment by the Quebec government of $3 million. This investment will support several projects, one of which is the arrival in 2019-2020 of a new six-pack (6 passenger) heated detachable chairlift. It will be built by Doppelmayr of St-Jerome. This new lift will replace the Atomic Express, the busiest and most popular lift at the mountain, which was built in 1985. This is great news, and something that really excites. The lift will have heated seats, allowing a warmer ride back up the mountain. It tentatively could be the first heated chairlift in Quebec if no others are installed before this one, so another first at Saint-Sauveur. I have been wondering when the Atomic would be replaced, and now we have our answer. What do you think?
  17. Well the time has come. Day 1 of the new 2017-18 season for me is in the books. With an early departure from Sherbrooke at 6am this morning under cloudy skies, and -5 Celsius, destination was Sommet St. Sauveur. Travelling was great until I hit Montreal of course. A little detour made while work was being done on the Turcotte interchange. Nothing new there. Arrival at Sauveur was 8:30, parking was great as I was one of the early arrivals. I got there early so I could relax a bit and get ready to go when the lift opened for 9am. The Pente d'Ecole, and the 70 West, with the Etoile quad spinning today on Sauveur's Day 2. The temperature was about -3, cloudy, and no wind. The Etoile: The Pente d'Ecole Beginner's Area: The conditions were pretty decent for early season skiing. Coverage was nice with a good coat of artificial snow, groomed over a decent base. The crowd was not large at the start but got larger as the morning progressed. The wait in line for the lift was 2 minutes tops. There was snowmaking going on in many different locations, at the top of the Atomic Express, and the Nordique. If mother nature cooperates this week, the Nordique should be next to open. Snowmaking on the Nordique: After the crowd started to get larger on the 70 West, a few icy patches began to appear but not to the point where you couldn't avoid them. The trail was covered wide enough so there was plenty of space to go around. A couple of modules were set up in a designated area off to the side with plenty of space for everyone to enjoy. Prepping a couple modules: After a few hours and 7 runs, taking them easy and not pushing on the first day out, it was time to call it. Overall it was a good start to the season. It felt really great to be back on the boards again. Glad to have made the trip. This would mark the second earliest start to the season for me. Here are some other scenes of the morning:
  18. April is famous for its spring skiing, and for me, there is no better place to go than Sommet Saint-Sauveur. They really know how to put on a great show, from the legendary ambiance on the outdoor terrace, to the entertainment and friendly competitions of all sorts, to offering the longest ski season in the province and being last to close. This year they are aiming to stay open until May 14th, that gives another month and a half of skiing to go. Arriving at the mountain slightly before 8:30am, the parking was already approximately 1/3 full. There was a competition to take place on 70 Ouest so it was understandable. That said, there was still much fewer people present on the trails than I was expecting. Lift lines were a minute or less all day, including the Atomic Express. Snow conditions in the early morning were firm and well groomed, but quickly changed after 10am to become soft and fast. As I have always observed from past years, the conditions on the Versant Avila were different from the main mountain of Sommet Saint-Sauveur. Both sections of the mountain have a different orientation with the sun, of about 45 degrees. This leaves Versant Avila with what I found to be firmer conditions longer into the day than the rest of the mountain. Virtually all trails were open, with the main notable exceptions of some of the gladed trails. Two highlights for me on this visit were Devaleuse and Cote 68. Both are intermediate trails and often offer great skiing. With nice constant pitches from top to bottom, they were both pure joy to run down. Cote 68. In the morning I also did Épervier, a more expert trail, offering a great drop in the mid-section, to really make you get technical with your skiing. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture, I wanted to come back to snap one but I just got soo distracted skiing the other trails. During my 4 hour visit, I'm sure I did over 20 runs, and with no lines, it was great to just keep going lap after lap. I hadn't skied at Sommet Saint-Sauveur in a couple years so I was interested in keeping an eye out for any changes and improvements that have been made. The top section of 70 Ouest has been widened, which greatly eases the circulation of skiers on the trail. Very welcome as 70 Ouest is always the first to open and last to close on the mountain each year, and the top was historically a bit of a bottleneck during those times. Cote 68 was also reported to have been widened, but I can't confirm exactly where, perhaps the mid-section. There are also some new connections between some adjacent trails, mainly in the Atomic Express sector of the mountain, making it easy to switch from Red Bird to Jay or Épervier, for example. Also new is the Etoile trail, running under the top part of the chairlift of the same name. It is a short moguls trail, that did previously exist when the new lift was installed, but is now officially recognized on the trail map. The Avenue des Champions, dedicated in honor of the athletes hailing from Sommet Saint-Sauveur over the many years, who have achieved greatness on the world stage. Narrow and windy with lots of zig zags, be sure to keep an eye out for the stars mounted in the trees, signed by each athlete recognized. Already announced for next season, the main chalet will be expanded to offer more space for the cafeteria eating area, and more space for the rentals. Cote 67 and Pronto trails on Versant Avila will also be widened, and improvements to the snowmaking system to offer more trails more quickly at the start of the season are also planned. Overall, an amazing visit at one of my favorite ski mountains. With still a month and a half to go, and plenty of upcoming events planned, Sommet Saint-Sauveur is the place to be this spring. Get off your couches, the season is not over yet! Here's some more pictures of the day. The dream homes on La Plagne. Jay. Nordique. Still plenty of snow! 70 Est. Sous-bois (located between Versant Avila and Devaleuse). Express (Versant Avila). Express Ouest. Laurentian (Versant Avila). 70 Ouest and 70 Est. Beaver Tails! Have a great week ahead and happy skiing!
  19. Sommet Saint-Sauveur is teasing the possibility of an opening tomorrow , should the weather overnight hold. The forecasts call for -8'c. They will provide an update in the morning on their Facebook page. Let's hope for the best.
  20. Two Mondays, two special days. Last Monday was Thanksgiving Day, and in Montreal, we were treated to a beautiful 26 degrees and plenty of sunshine. Today, federal election day (I hope everyone managed to vote!). Oh yeah, Mont Saint Sauveur opened as well. That's right, after 2 short nights of temperatures a hair below freezing, the 2015-2016 ski season has started in Eastern Canada. Mont Saint Sauveur has worked their magic once again, defying the odds and offering top-to-bottom, full-coverage skiing on October 19. When I saw the cold temperatures, I knew Mont Saint Sauveur would be opening within a day or two. After a few years of schedule conflicts or not enough notice to make it in time, I was finally able to ski on opening day. I already had my gear collected, so that when I learned of the 12:00 opening, around 11:15, I was ready. Arrival: 12:15. There were at least 150 cars in the parking lot. "What?", I thought. I understood why there were so many cars when I saw this sign on the door. The main concourse of the chalet was a polling station for local residents. It sure was weird to be sharing a space with people voting, and more than one person made a comment or seemed extremely surprised about the activity unrolling outside. I guess if you're not a skier, the concept of skiing and snow when the trees still have leaves seems foreign. Sadly, I wasn't ready in time for the classic photo at the bottom before the chairlift is loaded, but I was nevertheless ready to go by 12:30. Obviously, there was only one trail open (Cote 70 Ouest), and obviously, the conditions won't go down in the books as the best. But hey, it's October! What will go down in the books, for me at least, is the date. October 19 is by far the earliest I've skied, and it's the second earliest opening date for the hill, superseded only by an opening date of October 18 in 2009. What about the conditions? I was pleasantly surprised. The coverage, although a little bumpy, was almost the full width of the trail, and there was enough depth to prevent sticks and grass from coming through. Only some leaves falling from the trees littered the surface. It's not every day you ski with leaves on the trees! Given the temperature of around 5-6 degrees, the snow was spring-like in its consistency, meaning it was soft and heavy, but not too granular or slushy like we are accustomed to when skiing in May. I was very grateful the temperature was above freezing, since this ensured there was no corn snow or ice, which tends to be common early in the season with entirely artificial snow. It was not a day to ski fast or seriously, but rather just one to slowly get back into shape for the upcoming season, and simply enjoy the fact that skiing is available so early in the Fall. From 12:30 until I finished skiing around 2:30, there was a peak of around 100 people, which means there was plenty of space to move on the trail. The sun, which was out in full force when I started, had given way to cloud cover by the time I finished, but this didn't dull the mood, since everybody was happy to back on the snow. The cost wasn't too bad either, at 28$ + tax. This seemingly random price, which seems to be drawn from a hat and changes every year, could have been worse, especially considering that this snow will earn the resort one or two days of revenue at the most. Rain this evening and temperatures consistently above freezing for the next 2 weeks, even at night, will melt away all the snow and prevent more from being made. It looks like skiing in October will be a (very) short affair this year, since this warm weather will put a hiatus on the season for the next little while. Wait a few weeks though, and skiing will undoubtedly be back in full force. No worries there! The grass was green and the trees had leaves, but there was indeed skiing! Lazy river, voting, or skiing? There was, no doubt, a strange mix of activities going on today. The artificial snow sticking to the leaves made for some interesting scenery.
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