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It's the final day of 2018 and wanting to end it in true skiing style, a ski double-header was on the menu. Mont Ste Marie in the morning and Camp Fortune in the afternoon. (Be sure to check out the other report here).
Arriving at Mont Ste Marie just before opening at 9am, I was quick to get ready and start the day. Heading up Vanier Mountain, the first trail was Serenade. This intermediate trail definitely has a big mountain feel to it. It really weaves its way down the mountain and you feel yourself being transported to another place. Serenade is surely a Mont Ste Marie classic.
Next up was Bellevue, another big mountain type trail. I'm going to stop and clarify for a moment what I mean by big mountain. Mont Ste Marie is the largest ski mountain in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, with generally double the vertical drop of anywhere else. Add to this its location being even more out in nature and the surrounding mountains and you have a ski mountain that really does feel like a mini-Tremblant, of course minus the lift lines, the high prices, and the sometimes intimidating atmosphere. So a big mountain trail to me means it creates the same feeling and excitement on the slopes you'd get on one of those at a mega resort. Luckily, Mont Ste Marie has an ample supply of those to keep you going happy all day long.
Changing things up, it was time to head over to the Cheval Blanc mountain to experience the more advanced and expert terrain. On this side, only Frank Pouliotte, Outaouais and Dustin Cook were open.
Outaouais and Dustin Cook are the signature trails of Mont Ste Marie, with the later being FIS homologated. Starting from Outaouais, you have a relatively tame trail, taking you down while following the chairlift line and tossing you some spectacular views of Lac Sainte Marie below. Things quickly change as soon as the trail turns to the left and become Dustin Cook. Named after the Canadian World Cup alpine ski racer, this trail has it all, steeps, plenty of zones to carve at high speeds, drops and more.... enough to get your heart pumping with adrenaline and excitement.
During my visit, there was grooming taking place on some of the closed trails, and Mont Ste Marie announced on Facebook in the afternoon that indeed several more trails will open tomorrow, including Chanson, Carousel, Betsy, among others. Perfect for the large snowfall expected overnight and in the morning.
Overall, the snow conditions were great all over the mountain. With the coming new snow, the mountain will be in excellent shape to finish off the holidays.
Happy New Year to all and Happy Skiing!
Here are some photos from today's visit
The chalet at the base of Vanier Mountain.
The base of Vanier Mountain, with Caroline Calvé on the right and Exhibition on the left.
Top of Serenade.
Bottom of Serenade leading into Caroline Calvé.
Top of Vanier Mountain, heading towards Bellevue and Chanson.
Heading up Cheval Blanc, with Dustin Cook trail seen to the right.
Passing over Outaouais.
The summit observation point at the top of Cheval Blanc. You can see Vanier Mountain, so far away, yet so close.
Some more pics of Outaouais.
Our friends at Kunstadt Sports holding a ski demo day at the base.
I had been thinking of skiing one more day and earlier in the week I was looking at the remaining available options in the province in which to go, and Massif du Sud was starting to look interesting. A buddy of mine texted me the next day, and was wanting to go out himself to end the season, and he told me that he was going to Massif du Sud and well they say the rest was history. We left Sherbrooke at around 6:30 for the drive out there. Massif du Sud is about an hour or so Southeast of Quebec City, or about a touch over 2 1/2 hours from Sherbrooke. We arrived at the mountain just after 9am to beautiful sunny skies and the temperature was around +2 degrees. By arriving early this gave us plenty of time to wind down from the drive and to get ready for the day. We got our tickets and headed out for lift opening at 10. The Quad, and the Poma for the beginners area were operating. These are the only 2 lifts at Massif du Sud. The conditions were fantastic. The trails were well covered with absolutely no bare patches nor any ice patches anywhere. Actually I have not seen snow like this so late in the season! The trees at the summit were white as if it was the middle of winter and even the glades were open with plenty of snow. There were groomed and non groomed trails to choose from, and there was a wide variety to choose from.
The warm up runs were down the Familiale, a Green easy trail, a very nice cruiser that takes you out and around the farthest left side of the mountain, looking uphill, and the Villageoise another nice Green easy trail. After that it was onto an Intermediate trail, le Promenade. The conditions early were still a touch firm in the shaded areas and were starting to soften up in the sun exposed areas.
The upper and middle sections of La familiale:
Lower section of la Promenade:
By noon the trails had softened up and we were skiing some classic mashed potato type snow with soft bumps that you basically would ski through. Nice soft turns that made you work a little harder as the day went on. There was a decent crowd that came out to enjoy the sun and the skiing. The wait at the Quad was no longer than a couple of minutes. We had a bit of a late lunch to avoid the rush. A classic poutine and cheeseburger was the choice. Sorry no pics. Then it was out for some more turns to burn off what I ate.
the Olympique and the Grand Allee:
Later in the afternoon the conditions were still amazing and trails were well covered. The sun was nice and warm, and I was just a touch overdressed, but nothing that was unbearable. I could have lost one more layer but I just opened my jacket a touch more and let the breeze from skiing take care of the cool down. There was a soft breeze riding up the lift. I did not ski the glades as I am not a glade kind of skier but boy did they look nice though.
The Bi-Polaire Glade:
I ended up skiing until 3:15 as my legs were screaming they had had enough so the last run of the day was another trip down la familiale. As I said earlier, the conditions were fantastic and I haven't seen spring conditions like this in a longtime. The temperature by now was +8 degrees. My buddy skied a bit longer to get some extra runs in and we met up with a group of his friends for a few well deserved cold ones on the balcony out front of the chalet to celebrate the end of our season. The views here are really spectacular, and from Massif du Sud you can see the trails of Mont Ste-Anne across the St. Lawrence river in the distance. Everyone I met today was quite friendly. I really enjoyed my day here and I definitely would like to come back here again sometime.
Here are some extra scenes from the day:
The beginner's area with the Pomalift:
The trails of Mont Ste-Anne in the distance: