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Mont Ste Marie - January 31, 2023

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Last Tuesday, two friends and I made a last minute decision to skip class and head to Mont Ste Marie, as they had never been and I was hoping to return! While initially forecasted to be a cold day, the sunny skies, low wind, and gradual increase in temperature (from -17 to -8C) made the day feel much warmer. We arrived at 10am, and after purchasing our lift tickets, headed straight to the Vanier lift. Having received two recent dumping of snow the previous Thursday and Sunday, conditions were phenomenal, with nearly all trails open! On the Vanier lift, we skiied most of the grooomed open trails, including Serenade, the Serenade glades (which had decent conditions), and Chanson.


We then decided to ski Crescendo, a steep, ungroomed mogul run with large wooden jumps, to test our abilities. The fresh snow provided excellent cover, and despite it being a major leg burner, it was lots of fun! 


My brave friend doing a jump:


After we had gone through the long blue cruisers of Vanier, we decided to take the shuttle to the more advanced Cheval Blanc section. 





The famous Dustin Cook run was closed due to a provincial race, but since every other run was open (as opposed to my last visit when the opposite was true), we decided to start with Carousel Haute and Bas, an initially steep blue that eventually meandered its way down the mountain. We then moved on to Betsy, a steep double black diamond run, which happened to be my first time skiing a double black! 


Since the snow conditions were more hard-packed rather than icy, the run was not terribly intimidating, and actually quite enjoyable. We then decided to head back to the main lodge for lunch, and took the long connector trail Frank Pouliote, combining it with the ungroomed Crescendo, for a long, quad-burning run! 


Thanks to my friend’s new GoPro, we were able to capture some amazing footage from the day:


After a quick stop for poutine in the warm,  sunny lodge, we headed back out for a few more cruisers on Vanier. 



We then headed back over to Cheval Blanc, where we decided to try skiing the black diamond glades next to the steep pitch on Carousel Haute (mentioned in a 2018/19 trip report from Gordo!). There was tons of untouched powder, and though some areas appeared to be extremely steep, staying near the run boundary meant that there was nothing dangerous. We spent 7 minutes going through the glades, and by the end I was glad to have decided to go in, as they were much more fun and doable than I thought! 






After an exhausting tree run, we noticed that the Dustin cook run had finally opened after the race, so we decided to head there for our last run on the cheval side. 



Since the run was partially closed due to snowmaking on my last visit, skiing the entire trail in its full width was an amazing experience. Despite being on the steeper side with harder snow and some ice patches when compared to other trails at MSM, it is quite easy to see why this trail is the signature run at the hill. Big vertical, amazing views, wide, rolling, steep, and fast, this run is in my opinion the best ski trail in the Ottawa/Gatineau area! 
We then headed back to Vanier for our last few runs. 


By 4pm, we had skied 18 runs, and had sore legs due to the glades, ungroomed terrain, and simply the mountain’s high vertical we were unaccustomed to! All in all, it was a wonderful bluebird day on the slopes, and I definitely cannot wait to return sometime soon! 

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Great to see all of that snow on the mountain. 

How did you find the glades off Carousel? They don't look to tight or too steep. 

I like glades but I usually try to stick to ones that are easy or not too intimidating.

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@ShaneI found them through one of @Gordo’s old reports. I thought they’d be intimidating, but after my friend tried them once, we all tried them next run. There were cliff and rock drops, but they were avoidable if one stuck to the edge of the forest near the skiers left edge of the trail. There were some steeper sections, but we just took our time, and the good snow and wide tree spacing certainly did help. You can access the glades on the left hand side of the steep first pitch of Carousel. I posted my friend’s GoPro recording of the entire non-glade run, and you should be able to see the entrance at 0:50. 

They were rated as black diamond sous-bois, in comparison with the blue sous-bois next to Senerade, but if you stuck to the trail edge of the forest, there was nothing extreme. Gordo included pics from his trip report back in 2018 or 2019 I think. 

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Typically Yodel would be the easiest trail down Vanier mountain at Mont Ste Marie, however recently it is left in an ungroomed state, so it would be more bumpy or difficult as a result. For that reason, Bellevue would be the best option on Vanier. After that Serenade is another good one but is a bit more difficult than Bellevue as there are a few drops along the way.

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