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Mont Blanc - December 13, 2015


Jake

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Two weeks ago upon my trip to Ski Saint-Bruno, the verdict was that conditions were good, but winter was slow in coming and a lack of cold temperatures was preventing snowmaking from continuing. Today, while skiing at Mont Blanc, the consensus among everyone present was the same. Since snowmaking has ground to a complete halt due to the above seasonal temperatures, this holiday ski season is gearing up to be the worst in the past decade. In the Montreal region, temperatures haven't dropped below 0 at all over the past 2 weeks, so the skiing available has remained the same for the past little while, making it seem more like November than mid-December.

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Last year on December 6 at Mont Saint Sauveur (bottom) vs. this year on December 13 (top). This year certainly still doesn't feel like winter.

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Back to today's outing at Mont Blanc: Honestly, many ski days over the years at this date have been better. Much better. If you're looking for amazing skiing, lots of terrain, and nice snow, you should just stay home. But given this year's circumstances, the offering was wholly predictable, and acceptable. After seeing 15 degrees in the car on Friday, how much can one expect? Only the main side of the mountain was open, offering 5 trails, which actually came out to 3 possible descents. For beginners, the Yodel was available, as well as the magic carpet area, and for those more advanced, there was the Mambo and the Geant/Chemin Phillip/Robert combination.

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Yodel

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Robert (center), Mambo (right)

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Mambo

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Chemin Phillip

The snow conditions weren't fabulous, but not the worst either. Given this morning's temperature of -1, everything was sort of frozen and granular and there was a bit of soft artificial powder on the surface. This was pleasant to ski on, but after lunchtime this had given way to many icy patches. Later in the day I stuck to the Yodel, due to the gradual pitch having less ice. I was surprised by the actual quantity of snow on the trails. No new snow has been added for over two weeks, but there was at least a foot of depth everywhere, in many places even more. They must have had to make a lot considering how much has withstood these warm times.

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There was a fair amount of people at the hill: not enough for a lift line, but enough that the trails sometimes seemed a bit crowded. It seemed like the racers from the competition team, along with their parents, made up most of the visitors. The one advantage of these warm temperatures is that skiing is very comfortable: no cold fingers or bulky balaclavas here! The sun was out on-and-off as well, which was great. Given the time of year and the northern exposure though, flat light was an issue even at 1:30 when I stopped skiing.

In terms of the upcoming holiday season, it looks like temperatures will FINALLY be below freezing at night starting mid-week, which will allow ski hills to turn the snowmaking to maximum. Hopefully with a week or so of good temperatures, there will be enough snow to open more terrain in time for after Christmas, which is when ski hills really get busy. Oh yeah, what about natural snow? I don't want to push my luck too far, but it looks like there might be some significant snowfall on Boxing Day. It may be far away, but it never hurts have it on your Christmas list (Boxing Day list, is that a thing?). I know it will sure be on mine!

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The Day's Statistics

Trails: 5 out of 41 (Yodel, Mambo, Robert, Geant, Chemin Phillip).

Lifts: 2 out of 7 (Quad chairlift and magic carpet on Mont Blanc side).

Weather: -1 with both cloudy and sunny periods.

Snow: Granular on a firm base, with a few ice patches

Crowds: Moderate, most chairs on the lift were full and skiers were always present on trails, but no line.

 

 

 

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Nice report Jake. Amazing how much snow is on some of those trails. Happy it's holding on or we would be in worse shape right now. Still, in the spring when the snow melts, it does tend to linger for quite a while. And let's be grateful, any skiing is good skiing this year!

Have you noticed any changes or improvements at Mont Blanc for this season Jake?

When I was at Mont Blanc last year, the Geant trail reminded me of Epervier and Tom Barbeau at Mont Saint-Sauveur, off to the side but still wide open terrain. The mountain definitely has a great collection of trails. The Yodel also gets my attention, as I like trails that have lots of turns and that don't need much effort. The Renard was also quite fun with a constant pitch. 

Lets hope this week is the last of this warm weather, it's too early to open the Sugar Shack.

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That's funny, I can't say I saw any racers from there - all of them I saw were from the Mont Blanc Competition Club. I guess there couldn't have been that many. 

I too was surprised by how much snow there was. With all the rain and warm temps, they must have made an insane amount a few weeks ago. Can't say I saw any major changes this year, I'll keep my eyes open. I know over the past 2-3 years they've done over 1,000,000$ of renos in the cafeteria and seating area, and they also revamped the locker area as well. They also recently added many new, permanent snow guns on the Yodel, which before took forever to open at the beginning of the season because of outdated equipment and only those portable canons. So it wouldn't surprise me that they're taking a year or 2 off. 

I like the Geant a lot too, unfortunately only the little flat section up top (the part used to access many trails) was open. The actual skiable part was closed - it looks like they made snow there, but then didn't have enough to spread and couldn't make more. The Yodel was definitely a favorite among many, since the steep pitches of the Mambo and Robert got worn out fast.  

I agree about the warm weather, Shane. I like the Sugar Shack, but not in December!

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