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Mont Olympia - December 21, 2015


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I'm finally on Christmas vacation, and alas, my regular ski hill is closed for the week. I understand not skiing later this week when it's +12 or raining, but today, no way! Today, it finally felt like winter for the first time this season, so I was eager to hit the slopes. I summoned the Internet, looking for the hill with the most skiing besides Mont Tremblant, and one that was likely to have good conditions. After making my choice, and a 40 minute drive, I entered the very empty parking lot of Mont Olympia. According to their website, they offered 6 trails today, which by my calculations turned out to be 3 different top-to-bottom descents. This was markedly better than many other Laurentian ski hills, which are mostly offering 2.


As it turns out, I was very pleased with the 3 top-to-bottom runs. They were completely distinct from one another, and there was one of each level (circle, square, diamond), which ensured that there was some terrain for everybody. The Innsbruck was on offer for beginners, while the Zermatt held down the fort for advanced skiers. For those of an intermediate level, the Cortina was open. This trail normally holds the snow park, but today it was open for regular skiing. Two small connector trails added a few options for one's descent, and the magic carpet trail rounded out the offerings. All in all, very solid.



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The Squikky and magic carpet was available for beginners.



Usually in the early season, I find conditions are best on the beginner trails, but this wasn't the case today. The Innsbruck and the Zermatt both offered a soft malleable surface early in the day, but within a few hours of opening, a lot of ice patches quickly emerged in the pitches, and the snow also became granular. The Cortina offered the best conditions as the day progressed, probably because not many people chose that trail compared to the others since it was on the other side of the lift. All in all, not the best conditions of my life, but respectable given the big temperature swings and lack of opportunity to make snow over the past month. Today just reinforced the importance of skiing early in the day at this time of year. I found the lift ticket a bit expensive though - over 30$ for a 4 hour block, even with the early season discount.\



About the empty parking lot: it was very quiet today at Mont Olympia. 80% of the customers today seemed to be from the competition team, as well as the team from Mont Saint Sauveur, and another 18% appeared to be the parents of these children. When I started skiing around 9:30, I was one of the only skiers not affiliated. As the morning passed by, a few other families and some older adults started appearing. I guess when it's raining in the city, and it's before Christmas, and there's little to no snow, not many people think of skiing. Needless to say, the only chairlift open today was more than enough, and access was usually immediate.

The weather has been cooperating over the past few days as well, which is great. Temperatures this past weekend were conducive to snowmaking for the first time in 3 weeks, so ski hills all over southern Quebec had their artillery running at full power. Here at Mont Olympia, there was tons of snow in the Tignes and Olympia trails, so I'm sure these will open soon enough.


Today in the Laurentians, we were also treated to the first significant natural snowfall of the season. The precipitation started out as a very hard and icy snow, but by late morning it had changed to big, soft flakes, and this continued until early evening. I'd say about 10 cm fell in total, enough to make everything look and feel like winter! This will unfortunately come to a quick end over the next few days as we experience very warm temperatures and rain, but by the weekend, it looks like the cold will be here to stay, with the possibility of a lot more snowmaking and hopefully some more natural snow.

On the way home, I took a short detour past the Laurentians' most unknown ski hill. If and when we get enough of the natural stuff this season, this place is on my go-to list. Here's a hint in the meantime, so stay tuned.


The Day's Statistics

Trails: 6 out of 37 (Cortina, Innsbruck, Zermatt, Squikky, Paresseux, Squaw Valley)

Lifts: 2 out of 6 (Quad chairlift C and magic carpet).

Weather: -2, light to moderate snowfall.

Snow: Soft at first, becoming granular on a very firm base, with a few ice patches. Small amounts of natural accumulation.

Crowds: Very little, immediate access to the chairlift and no crowding on the trails.





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Very nice outing Jake. Olympia definitely has a great selection of trails, and the layout and configuration of the mountain creates a lot of possibilities for forming your descent. The trails also seem to have a constant pitch to them and lots of turns. It also feels as a much bigger mountain than it first appears.

Conditions looked quite good. While you were enjoying the snow, back in Ottawa, we were enjoying the rain. Hopefully your outlook is correct and in a week's time we will be heading into the continuous period of cold temperatures, desperately needed for snowmaking and natural snow.

The mystery mountain peaked my interest. Reading earlier on in your article, I figured it would be Mont Alta, but then the picture you included has a t-bar, so I am not so sure at this point. I'm going to do some research and come back with a better guess.

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Guest MasterGoa

Shane, I will give you hint: It's an old trail that has was closed for a long while but reopened with a housing development...


And remember kids, GET OFF YOUR COUCHES!

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Mont Sauvage is right! Oddly enough, based on my GPS it looked to be accessible right off a main road, but once you exit the main road you're forced onto a narrow lane that doesn't appear to be paved, and was completely unplowed the day I went.

The mountain is very well hidden, to the point you don't even see it until you are right in front of it. Even where I parked, I could only see one of the main trails, and the T-bar off to the side. They are actually building condos right at the base now, and it seems like one of the buildings is finished, although I'm not sure if anyone is living there yet. There will probably be a temporary mobile unit acting as a small chalet, but nothing is in place now, and there is no signs of life, like they are waiting to open. 

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