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:
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:
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:
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!