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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.
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.
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!
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 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: