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Mont Blanc - December 25, 2016


Jake

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crop.JPGA busy Fall meant that I started my ski season only this past Saturday. It was one of my latest starts ever, especially compared to last year when I was at Sommet Saint-Sauveur on October 19. The ski season has started off well this year, with plenty of cold temperatures for snowmaking and some natural snowfall. For my second day of the season, I headed to Mont Blanc, my home hill where I spend most of the winter.

This year, Mont Blanc is celebrating their 60th year in business, having opened in 1957. To mark this milestone, there have been several changes since last year.  Two new grooming machines have been added to the fleet, and upgrades to the snowmaking system were made. The entire main building was repainted blue with wood accents, adding some brightness to the base area. Lastly, the old magic carpet was replaced with a much longer one, increasing the size of the learning area and extending it directly to the base of the mountain.

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I started skiing early on Christmas morning at Mont Blanc, and the ski hill was very quiet.  It was a perfect day, in terms of weather, snow, and available terrain. In stark contrast to last year, a total of 15 trails were open on the Blanc and Faustin sides. On the Mont Blanc side, the main trails available were, among others, the Yodel, Mambo, Robert, and Géant, and on Mont Faustin, the Raton Laveur, Suisse, Panda, and Lynx were open for skiing.

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All natural snow trails and glades were closed, but should be skiable after the next snowfall. The small unnamed glade at the top of Mont Faustin was skiable with good coverage, and I enjoyed going through many times. Snow guns were operating on other closed trails, which means these will open soon, but the big news is the opening of Mont Blanc Nord today, December 26. Normally this side of the mountain only opens sometime in January, and this opening is the earliest in a long time.

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The weather was perfect on Christmas day. The temperature was about -10 in the morning, which is not warm but certainly not enough to need tons of layers and hand warmers. By the afternoon, it had warmed up to -5, which made things very comfortable, and the perfectly blue sky and shining sun was appreciated.  Some snow guns were also operating on open trails, but never really disturbed skiers or created a safety hazard. 10 cm of snow fell on Saturday, which meant the base was soft and slightly powdery. This meant there was a smooth, gliding feeling under your skis, rather than a granular or icy base that is sometimes present in December due to the large amounts of artificial snow being made.

The weather for today isn't the most promising, and might lead to unstable conditions for the next few days. It's currently freezing rain outside, with rain forecasted for overnight. Tomorrow looks to be above freezing, with a return to seasonal temperatures on Wednesday. If possible, wait until Thursday or Friday to ski, as the groomers will have had a chance to restore trail conditions, and we'll hopefully get some natural snowfall.

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Hi Jake, thanks for the photo of the magic carpet. I had heard they had improved that section of the mountain but had yet to see any pictures to understand exactly what had changed. Glad to see it was lowered to the base of the mountain, makes more sense this way.

The mountain conditions look amazing. Good to hear Mont Blanc Nord is open. On my last visit it was closed, and I've actually never skied that part of the mountain. How does it compare to the trails on Mont Blanc and Mont Faustin?

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