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Mont Blanc : December 24, 2013


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Despite the chilly -23°C this morning, I visited my home hill of Mont Blanc today for some skiing. Mont Blanc, located in Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré, Quebec, is about 15 minutes south of Tremblant and 75 minutes north of Montreal. Offering a theoretical 1000 vertical feet, they bill themselves as Quebec’s most family-friendly ski resort, and offer all the services one would expect of a ski center. They also offer a hotel, slopeside condominiums, a pool, a spa, bar, and a large jungle gym for children. Notably, Mont Blanc completely renovated their cafeteria, in both the food service area and the seating area. Replacing the outdated 1980s-style setup, the cafeteria now offers modern décor, improved seating and storage for belongings, and updated, more health-oriented menus.

Mont Blanc’s claim as a family-friendly center is well founded. They offer 41 trails spread out over 3 distinct mountain sides, as well as 7 modern lifts (3 quads, 2 triples, and 2 magic carpet surface lifts) to make ascensions quick, comfortable, and easy. Their runs range in difficulty from extremely easy to deathly difficult, and they offer something for absolutely everyone: beginners putting on skis for the first time, seasoned mogul skiers, glade lovers, and carving fanatics.

Today, being Christmas Eve and quite chilly, there were very few people out skiing. People must have been shopping, wrapping gifts, or cooking turkey, because they certainly weren’t here! Upon my arrival at 8:15, there were at most 15 cars in the parking lot, and upon my departure at 2:00, the parking lot was no more than half-full. Today, only 2 out of the 3 mountainsides were open. The Mont Blanc side and the Mont Faustin side were both 100% open, for 27 out of 41 runs. The third side, Mont Blanc Nord, which offers skiing for only intermediate and advanced skiers, is not yet open for the season and is currently undergoing intensive snowmaking. Access to the two chairlifts open was instantaneous.In the morning, the weather was quite foggy, but as the day went on, the fog cleared to yield partly sunny conditions. Despite the advent of the sun, the chilly temperature stayed throughout the day.

About 70% of the open trails were groomed, and offered a soft, powdery surface on a firm, manufactured base. There was absolutely no ice, even later in the day, and conditions were perfect for high-speed carving. The other trails were left in their natural state, and featured moguls and abundant natural powder. The glades, although well tracked, had a soft base with very few natural obstacles, which is impressive for this time of year.

One such glade is “Le Kid”. Oddly enough, this glade has an official sign indicating its presence, but is not on the trail map. The “Boulevard”, a intermediate trail normally groomed, was in moguls today. The “Geant”, a wide intermediate giant-slalom type trail, was perfect for high-speed, large radius carving. Normally, this trail is very popular and is full of people, but today, it was practically empty. This was also the case for the “Yodel”, which is normally a popular place for learning skiers old and young alike.

Overall, the abundant natural snow, amazing ski conditions, and very few people at the hill made for a very good ski day. As of now, this seems like it will continue for the rest of the Christmas holidays, since more small snowfalls are forecasted, and no warm or rainy days are foreseeable. If only it gets just a bit warmer!

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