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Mont Ste Marie : December 14, 2014


Shane

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What an incredible day. My first visit of the season to Mont Ste Marie and it sure did not disappoint, with ski conditions you would expect in January and February.

The time was 7am, actually it was more like 6:30am. I woke up with the feeling of being eager and ready to go skiing. After having a nutritious breakfast, and quickly packing my ski gear, I was out the door. Looking forward to the drive up, and once again experiencing the new Highway A-5 extension, which feels like you are driving in the Laurentians, I carefully was taking note of the time spent getting to the mountain. Exiting the highway after 25 minutes of driving in Wakefield, and then continuing on the windy path to the mountain, the entire trip took an hour. Being used to many years of doing the 2 hour drive up to the Laurentians, this was definitely refreshing and motivating.

Jumping out of the car to take in some fresh mountain air, I was greeted by the oh so classic ski resort sound, the sound of the chairlift. No lines, and few people on the slopes. A quick dash to get my lift ticket, then back to the car to get my ski boots on. After the past weeks snowfall, you could really tell those that were present were definitely excited by the snow and conditions. My friend Ren and his son Sam also joined me on this ski day, looking for the best snow, and a great way to end the weekend.

The detachable quad chairlifts offer a quick 4 minute ride up the mountain, which offers double the vertical drop of any of the other ski mountains in the Outaouais. Glancing around during the ride up, the open trails were offering perfect snow coverage. The contrast from bare trees to ones frosted over in snow is always a special sight. It definitely felt like we were in the middle of winter (even though the calendar still says Fall). For the first few runs down the mountain, the summit was partially in the clouds.

For my first run, I chose Bellevue, a nice intermediate cruiser, that winds its way down the mountain, while offering great views of the region. I took my second run on Serenade, another intermediate cruiser, that is more challenging than Bellevue. Both trails had perfect snow, and a nice base, perfect to open up with some speed or to practice technique.

Mont Ste Marie isn't a mountain that pushes itself as a big ski resort, yet you can't help but feel like it is, thanks to the quality and length of the trails, the snow conditions, the fast lifts, the views and the spacious base lodge. This mountain often referred to as "the best kept secret of the Outaouais" offers many advantages over mountains farther away, the biggest being no waiting at the lifts, affordable and proximity to the city.

I for one definitely plan to visit this mountain more over the course of this winter, and I encourage you all to do so too. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!
 

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