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Ski Saint-Bruno - November 29, 2015


Jake

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This fall has been kind to neither skiers, snowboarders, nor hill operators alike. Apart from a very early surprise from Mont Saint Sauveur way back in October, a lack of cold nights, persistent rain and warm temperatures have kept snow guns at rest a lot longer than we all would have wished. Nevertheless, winter must finally come, and it is now, at the end of November, that ski hills across Quebec are slowly opening their lifts for the season. Finally! To take advantage of this, I took a trip to Ski Saint-Bruno, which opened for the season yesterday. For their opening day, the price was only 1.00$ (or whatever you would like to pay), with all income going to a local charity. A great initiative, both for the beneficiaries, and also by increasing accessibility to skiing.

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My last visit to Ski Saint-Bruno was last winter, on January 13. At first, everything about my visit today appeared different to last year's, but as I got going, everything turned out to be almost the same. How's that possible? It's the magic of Ski Saint-Bruno, that is, fantastic snow conditions and grooming regardless of the temperature, time of year, or precipitation. Despite it being the second day of the season and having had tons of rain a few days ago, the surface was soft and smooth, allowing one to ski fast and carve without worry of slippage. Ice that is normally present at the beginning of the season was nearly absent, as were the classic golf balls that are usually an unfortunate reality of early-season skiing. Obviously the surface wasn't 100% perfect, but for Day 2 of operations, it far surpassed my expectations. Another thing that mirrored my last visit was the size and quality of their ski school - many group lessons were taking place, as well as training for future instructors in order to ensure top quality for their programs later this winter.

 

In terms of different, obviously terrain was reduced. There were 4 trails open out of 15, which basically equalled 2 different ways of going down - either #5 leading to #4 on the north side, and #13 on the south side. The magic carpet and #10 rounded out the offerings. Normally the south side doesn't open until later, so it was nice to see some additional terrain available right from the get-go. The opening of the south side allowed me to see some of the changes made there, notably and widened base area, a widened trail #15, and a new sous-bois for experts. There are rumours that this side will be significantly expanded with a new chairlift and more trails, so this probably isn't the end of the changes. Also noted was a small snow park on #4 to accommodate those such inclined.

 

 

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Volume at the hill was as expected for a Sunday morning in late November - enough people to give the hill some life, but no waiting whatsoever at the chairlift, and plenty of space to move around on the trails. Visibility was a bit of a disappointment though. The fog and flurries, combined with the mist from all the snow canons operating, made it difficult to see at times and iced up my goggles (Do they make heated goggle lenses yet? Add it to my Christmas list).

 

 

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Speaking of snowmaking, it was progressing very well on #6, #12, and #14, meaning these trails should be open within the next week or so, at the most. The terrain at Ski Saint-Bruno has been so well manicured that very little snow is needed to open the trail - no rocks, streams, or tall plants means a thin layer of snow is enough. This allows them to be 100% open (apart from glades) by the holiday season, which is a huge advantage to their clientele during this period. As long as the temperatures stay low, though - Let's hope!

 

 

The Day's Statistics

 

Trails: 4 out of 15 (#4, 5, 10, 13).

 

Lifts: 3 out of 8 (Magic Carpet 2, Chairlifts B and D).

 

Weather: -2 with cloud cover and light flurries, some fog.

Snow: Groomed snow with soft granular on surface.

 

Crowds: Very little, mostly group lessons and instructor training. No lift line.

 

 

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Nice outing. This is one of those mountains I really want to discover. The layout and setup seems quite impressive, not to mention the ski conditions. 

Can you share more on what you have heard on possible expansion? I also heard a rumour about a new chairlift for the next season but having never been, I'm not sure of what possibilities there are for expansion.

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I'm not 100% sure on the expansion, I've probably heard the exact same rumours as yours. Just from looking at the terrain, I would imagine that the expansion on the south side would be to the west, or on the left side of the chairlift when going up. The terrain there looks like it has a relatively constant grade, and despite being less than 200 ft vertical, it looks like it would make good advanced/expert terrain. If you look in my second photo, it's the very dense forest to the left of the chair. Compared to the south side, the north side expands far more to the west, so it would only make sense to stretch the south side to match the spread of the north side. As it stands, the south side only occupies the easternmost edge of the north side. I guess time will tell... I can imagine the environmental bylaws must be a hurdle to get through.

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