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Ski Saint-Bruno - January 13, 2016


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I had larger plans for skiing this week, but the heavy rain over much of Quebec this past weekend brought an end to this idea. I still wanted to ski, though, so I went to the ski hill that's "trop près pour s'en passer": Ski Saint-Bruno. Indeed close by, this ski hill is a great option if you live in Montreal and want to ski somewhere close and convenient. Making the day even better, the sky was blue and the sun was out in full force. Out of my 19 outings to date this season, today was only the third or fourth day with sun, so it was greatly appreciated.


Trail 6.

Another benefit of the clear skies, along with Ski Saint-Bruno's location among fields, are the views. Downtown Montreal was so visible that I was able to identify specific buildings, and on the South Side I was able to see all the way to the United States and the Adirondack mountains! Along with blue skies in January came the predictably lower temperature. It actually wasn't very cold, but there was a brisk wind which made it feel closer to -20. Dressed and equipped properly though, it wasn't an issue at all, and the mountain's small size created some shelter. Remember, compared to last season, today was positively tropical!


Montreal visible in the distance.


The 4, and the base of the mountain.

This past Sunday in Montreal, it rained torrentially for much of the afternoon and evening, and then the temperature dropped over from +5 to -10 in a matter of hours. That being said, I didn't wake up this morning expecting amazing conditions just 3 days after this episode. As always with Ski Saint-Bruno, though, the conditions were excellent given the circumstances, and markedly better than what you might find elsewhere. Also, about 5 cm of snow fell last night, and this certainly helped to soften things up a bit. Overall, the surface was firm, with a bit of loose snow and some frozen granular mixed in. Fortunately there were no large ice sheets, even in the afternoon, which I found amazing. A few of the trails have undergone snowmaking since Monday, and these were the most enjoyable to ski since the surface was less hard and granular. The only exception to these conditions was trail 15: it operates on natural snow only, so it was noticeably more icy and there were sections where dirt and rocks were coming up through the grooming.


An example of the marginal conditions on the 15. 

It was surprisingly busy at Saint-Bruno today, especially with no school groups present. There was never any lines or overcrowding, but there was enough people to open the second quad chairlift around 11:00. It was busy enough to often share chairs with people, which was nice since I was skiing alone today. I was able to meet some interesting people, and a portion of their core clientele. I met a woman who works at home and lives 15 minutes away, so she purchases the 5 days/7 nights pass for 165$ and enjoys coming for a few hours in the afternoon to split up the day. This season pass is a VERY competitive offer, and definitely draws a fair amount of people.

I also had the honour of skiing a few runs with an older gentleman who averages 60-65 outings a year despite being... 89 years old! He had some interesting stories to tell about skiing and life, and lamented how he can no longer match his age and number of outings per season. I can only wish to be so healthy and active when I'm his age.

In terms of terrain, 10 out of 15 trails were open today. My favourite trails today were the 14 and 7, which offered a nice slope and consistent snow that made skiing easy. Despite being a shorter trail, the 14 had great conditions, with a softer base and some loose snow on top.


Trail 7 was great for it's consistent snow and slope. Also it seemed this trail was quieter than the rest.


Trail 14 probably had the best conditions out of all the runs. 

I also enjoyed skiing trail 15 for its pitch and narrowness, despite it's more marginal coverage. I probably did 20 runs on the South Side alternating between 14 and 15, and particularly enjoyed this side for its direct sun exposure and feeling of retreat.


The 15. I enjoyed this trail despite the coverage and a bit more ice compared to the other runs.

At Ski Saint-Bruno, you won't find powder fields, triple-diamond thrillers, or anything that warrants an overnight visit. What you will find, however, is the perfect playground that always has good conditions, an amazing learning environment, and enough to keep most skiers entertained for a few hours, all while being so close to the city. The mountain should be 100% open starting tomorrow, and possible snow on Friday and Saturday should improve conditions further.


Trail 8.


The 6a was open, despite only 15-20 cm of coverage, and was great to ski as long as you were careful. 


Trail 13.


Trail 4, while going up the chairlift.

The Day's Statistics

Trails: 10 out of 15 (1,2,3, 9, and 12 were closed for snowmaking, maintenance, or just inaccessible).

Lifts: 3-4 out of 8 (Chairlifts B and D, magic carpet 2, chairlift C opened at 11:00).

Weather:  Sunny and -10, felt like -19 with the wind.

Snow: Firm base with a surface with varying amounts of soft loose snow to frozen granular. A bit windswept in places.

Crowds: No lines or crowding, but enough to sometimes share chairs and open an additional lift. Seemingly busy for a Wednesday.

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I read your reports about Saint-Bruno and it makes me want to give them a try. I often ski on icy conditions out in the Laurentians so would be a welcome change. Thanks.

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    • By Jake
      When I woke up this morning, the thermometer read a chilly -26. Brrr!  A few hours later, though, the temperature had risen to -18, and the perfectly blue sky inspired me to go skiing. Not wanting to travel very far, I headed to Montreal's only urban ski hill, Ski Saint-Bruno. Situated less than 30 minutes from the center of town, Ski Saint-Bruno does things big, despite having a vertical drop of only 400 feet. 2 mountain sides, 4 chairlifts, 2 magic carpets, 2 snow parks, 100% lit for night-skiing, and 100% snowmaking: you name it, Ski Saint-Bruno has it. Services off the hill are also exemplary, and include a fully-equipped boutique carrying a vast inventory of equipment and clothing, one of the largest ski schools in Quebec with over 500 instructors, a repair and tuning workshop, and a well-stocked rental shop containing skis, snowboards, and even "snowscoots". There is even a shuttle to take people from the back of the very large parking lot up to the unloading area. In other words, Ski Saint-Bruno has everything anyone could possible ask for when going skiing. This all-inclusiveness makes it a popular destination for everybody, as evidenced by the many age groups present today: from retirees, preschool groups, and teenagers, everyone was accounted for! Ski Saint-Bruno, which dubs themselves "the creator of skiers", is also renowned for offering beginner skiers a comfortable and welcoming environment to learn. Ski Saint-Bruno boasts a vast snowmaking system as well as a fleet of late-model groomers to keep slope conditions at their best, and as a whole, the mountain is visually in great condition, from the perfectly painted buildings at the bottom to the neat rows of pine trees that block off various areas.
      Trail 10 and its magic carpet.

      Given the bone-chilling temperature this morning, I was slightly apprehensive at the beginning of the day, but there was no wind whatsoever and by wearing 5 layers and having heat at my toes and fingers, the only thing cold was my camera! I was not the only one to find the cold tolerable, since there were a fair number of people present today. Out of 15 possible trails, 12 were open today. The 9 and the 11, both learning hills, served by a magic carpet and a handle tow respectively, were closed due to lack of volume, and the 12 was closed for snowmaking. Conditions were very good, although a bit firmer than I expected considering the natural snowfall over the past week. The grooming was uniform though, and there was no ice or granular snow whatsoever, even in the steeper pitches. This remained the case until I left around 2:30, probably because of lower skier traffic. At Ski Saint-Bruno, snowmaking is a continuous effort throughout the winter, and as such, there were fan guns functioning in many places all over the mountain. In terms of lifts, there were 4 operating: Triple A (north side) and D (south side), Quad B (central), and Magic Carpet 2. Suffice to say, with all these options, access was instantaneous throughout the day. All of the chairlifts except for Triple A, which services the snow park and advanced sector, have loading carpets to facilitate boarding, but I still found the chairlifts quite slow, especially for a weekday.
      Snowmaking at the summit of the mountain.

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      Trail 15, situated underneath the triple chairlift on the south side.
      Trail 14.

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      Riding up the quad chairlift B, with trail 4 underneath.

      The top pitch of trail 4, as seen from the summit.
      Trail 3.
      The small glade next to trail 6.

      Trail 7: above is quad chairlift C, closed for the day.

      Trail 8.
      \   The extensive and well-maintained snowpark, housed in trails 1 and 2. 

      Last but not least, some pros and cons to consider if planning a trip to Ski Saint-Bruno.

      - proximity to town.
      - snowmaking throughout the entire winter and exceptional grooming create great conditions.
      - large amount of infrastructure and mountain services, all full-featured, extremely well-maintained, and visually appealing
      - tickets available for as little as 1 hour: perfect for a beginner or someone looking to ski for a short time.
      - 3 learning slopes, 2 magic carpets, loading carpets at the chairlifts, large ski school: perfect for beginners!.

      - can be VERY busy on weekends due to large ski school - clogged trails. 
      - little to be had in terms of extreme or natural terrain: everything, even the glades, are groomed daily. 
      - expensive considering the size of the mountain: over 40$ with tax for an adult day ticket.
      - slow chairlifts, most are without a foot rest. 
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      Snow: Groomed snow with soft granular on surface.
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