I live in Gatineau, but love Montreal so as a result, I've found myself traveling down the 417 and Highway 40 many times. Minutes after you cross into Quebec, you spot a ski mountain in the distance. Then the road turns away and you continue to Montreal. Little did I know what I had been missing.
I have been reading Jake's reports on the forums of Mont Rigaud for too long, something had to be done to rectify this situation, gone on long enough. So Wednesday morning I packed up and set-out towards Montreal... I meant Rigaud.
Arriving at the base at around 9:30am, the mountain is already open and there aren't too many cars present. I enter into the chalet and find that it is very well laid out. A wood burning fireplace helps create a warm feeling and that classic mountain smell.
Strapping on my boots and heading outside, I get ready to board the Quad chairlift. This lift was equipped last year with a Loading Carpet, that makes boarding the lift that much easier and smoother.
Once at the summit, the entire mountain opens up to you. Mont Rigaud only has one chairlift, but it gives easy access to all the mountain's terrain.
I start out on the beginner trail O'Keefe. It is a gentle trail that flows smoothly down the mountain. It is also notable that it has a constant pitch (in contrast to some other mountains that have a drop, then a flat, then a drop...). This kind of terrain is perfect for getting some speed and being able to develop a steady rhythm for your turns. The trail finishes off with an optional glades area.
Another great trail is the advanced Qui-Sait-Tout trail. It starts out with a quick drop to get you going, and follows up with narrower passages and lots of turns and undulations, great fun to take with some speed!
Other trails such as Pepsi (located along the Quad chairlift) are nice intermediate cruisers, great for getting some speed and working on your carving.
For absolute beginners, there is a magic carpet area with a small slope, perfect for learning the basics.
Conditions were perfect, no ice anywhere and a smooth corduroy groomed surface. All trails except two advanced trails located to the left of the chairlift were open. Those trails should open shortly as they were working on preparing and grooming them during my visit.
The mountain is open daily from 9am-9pm. Lift tickets are well priced, offering the regular full day or evening as well as blocks of 1,2,3 or 4 hours. You can even get a ticket to just access the magic carpet area at the base.
Overall, I was very impressed during my visit. It's clear that it is an ideal mountain to learn to ski or snowboard due to the terrain available, that works with you rather than against you as is often found in many other mountains. For me, I have most of my enjoyment skiing in intermediate terrain. Mont Rigaud takes it up a notch by providing trails that have constant pitch and slope to them so I can settle into my rhythm and not have to fight to hold it the whole way down.
I will definitely be back and I encourage you to discover Mont Rigaud as well.
Where can you find grooming lines at 3:00 PM on a sunny day with a temperature of -8°? Mont Rigaud, of course! What a great afternoon of skiing today! I arrived home early today, and given the nice weather and recent snow, I decided to ski for a few hours at Mont Rigaud. I packed up my equipment, and 45 minutes later, I was snapping on my skis at the base of the chairlift. Therein lies the beauty of Mont Rigaud. For people who live in the West Island and the Vaudreuil region, the ski hill is close enough to enable very short, spontaneous outings.
The weather and snow today were both great. The sky was perfectly blue, and a comfortable temperature of -8 ° made it possible to ski without having to worry about cold fingers and frostbite on your face. It was simply fantastic! The condition of the slopes was also great. Montreal has not seen a large blizzard in quite awhile, but frequent snowfalls of 5 to 10 cm in the past few weeks have added up to a decent accumulation. As such, the groomed trails were very soft with no ice whatsoever, allowing for carefree carving. In the hill's only glade, the O'Keefe, coverage was very good, with only a few sticks visible. Also visible were the structures for Mont Rigaud's tree adventure park, which operates in the summer months, in addition to their mountain biking trails.
The gladed section of the O'Keefe: the widely spaced trees and gradual slope are conducive to learners.
Mont Rigaud's tree adventure park: no customers today!
The number of customers was what I expected on a weekday at a small local hill.
It was certainly not crowded, but there were a fair number of people today. The chairlift was consistently about a quarter full, which, combined with the adjacent snow park, lent a nice atmosphere to the afternoon. In terms of demographics, there was a wide range of people, from teenagers in the snow park to retirees, and even mothers with their young children. Being so close to town, it is easy to come for only an hour or two. I skied today from about 3:00 to 5:00 PM, and managed to get in about 15 runs, which were all greatly enjoyed. Upon my departure, the lights were just turning on for night skiing, which is offered 7 days a week until 9:00 PM.
The school bell was not chiming today, but Mont Rigaud's mission as Quebec's ski nursery was nonetheless present. Multiple private lessons were taking place around the hill, with students both young and old.
Speaking of the hill, it is very well suited to beginners, as the wide, gentle trails aspire to make the learning experience as painless as possible. While you will not find any death-defying steeps or rocky glades, there are nonetheless a few challenging areas, such as the small mogul run, and the Qui-Sait-Tout.
The mogul run, situated the junction between the Qui-Sait-Tout and the O'Keefe.
Nice view from the Pepsi.
As the sun announced its goodbye to Mont Rigaud for the day, I did as well, eager to return soon and enjoy a similar experience.