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Mont Blanc : March 9, 2014


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Today, before heading back to the city, I spent the morning skiing at Mont Blanc. Upon my arrival at around 8:30, and it was very quiet. Many factors could have caused this: a Sunday is generally not as busy as a Saturday, the time change means this 8:30 was actually 7:30 in old time, and the temperature was a chilly -19. The morning was very enjoyable, however, because less people means less waiting and better skiing, and despite the cold weather, being outside was very bearable due to the lack of wind and dampness, and the warm sunshine.

I started skiing on the Mont Blanc side, the side where the main parking lot and large chalet is, along with most of the hill's services. Today, the Tournée de Glisse, sponsored by the ASSQ and Maneige, was occurring. This tour aims to educate skiers about the importance of safe skiing and wearing helmets. Employees are available to make sure your helmet fits properly, and to everyone's surprise, most people had their helmet way too loose. There was also free coffee, hot chocolate, and drinkable yogurt for everyone to enjoy, and there were many contests to enter, including ski tickets and a fancy coffee machine. I won a pair of ski socks!

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Base of Mont Blanc with the tents for the Tournée de Glisse

Conditions were very good despite the lack of recent snowfall. The groomed trails were hard packed with no ice whatsoever, and ungroomed trails and glades were generally hard packed but not really icy, with a tiny bit of loose snow on top. The "Foret Magique" at the top of Mont Blanc was, as always, a pleasure to ski.

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Foret-Magique

I then skied a number of runs on Mont Blanc Nord. The most recent of the three mountainsides, this side is geared to more proficient skiers, and as such, offers only intermediate and advanced trails. I skied mostly on the groomed trails here, since many of the steep bump runs, such as the "Beaujolais", were very firm with some ice because of the cold, and are very shaded in the morning. To avoid flat light on these trails, they are best skied in the afternoon. For some unknown reason, the "Chianti", the only sous-bois on this side, was closed. There is significantly less infrastructure on this side than on the other two, but it is still adequate. There is a basic yet functional warming hut at the bottom, many trails have snowmaking, and the mountain is served by a quad chairlift.

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Chalet at the bottom of Mont Blanc Nord

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Bottom of Mont Blanc Nord

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Chute (left) and Panoramique (right)

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Chateau
 
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Bumps at the top of the Chateau

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Chablis

After skiing here, I skied on Mont Faustin, where conditions were similar to those everywhere else. As on the other two sides, it was not particularly busy, and access to the lifts usually took 30 seconds to a minute. I skied trails such as the "Renard" and the "Loup", which are advanced runs perfect for carving, and the "Panda", a gently sloped beginner run that curves its way around the side of the mountain.

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Renard (left) and Loup (right)

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Panda - the buildings are the left are part of Village Mont Blanc, the fully serviced condo complex where one can rent or buy a condo.

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Going up Mont Faustin - Tigre underneath the lift

At the top of Mont Faustin, from the beginning of February to the end of the season, a special treat awaits: Mont Blanc's very own Cabane à Sucre! From the very picturesque log cabin, employees serve generous servings of delicious maple taffy on snow for the very affordable price of 2$. A campfire, music, and many benches contribute to a great atmosphere and make this area a great place to hang out in the afternoon and enjoy springtime. A definite must-have for visitors new (or not so new!) to Mont Blanc!

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The Cabane à Sucre

It was with sadness that I left at around noon today. The temperature had risen to a more comfortable -8, and the great snow conditions and sunshine would have made for a great afternoon of skiing.
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