On the last Saturday of March, my friend and I decided to ski Tremblant for our last ‘big mountain’ ski day of the season, in addition to it being his first time at the resort. Conditions were extremely windy, cold for spring (-5 to 1C without windchill), and snow conditions started alright and ended poor. That being said, we had a great time, and got to explore the terrain off every lift on the mountain that day! Since the temperature never exceeded freezing, the obstructed sun did not soften the snow as the daily conditions report said it would, leading to overall poor snow conditions due to the freeze the previous day. Nevertheless, all lifts and 102 runs were open, with 2/3 having been groomed the previous day. The snow on the Versants Nord and Edge was the least icy and wind-exposed, so we spent the majority of the day there, where we lapped the groomed runs, park, mogul runs, and Edge glades, the latter of which was a new favourite.
We left Ottawa at 6am, enjoying a beautiful sunrise along the way and arriving at the parking lot at 8:30.
We started our day by taking the Flying Mile and TGV chairlifts to the summit, as the line for the gondola was extremely long. We then ventured to the Versant Soleil to ski an intermediate cruiser, though the hard and bumpy snow conditions, in combination with the wind-exposed chairlift ride back, led us to decide to move on from the sector to search for better snow elsewhere.
We then took a few runs down Beauvallon and Beauchemin (intermediate runs on the North and South sides, where freshly groomed corduroy and granular snow was to be found. We then did a run on Superieur, a long advanced run that reaches the bottom of the backside.
Deciding to try some glades, we headed to the Versant Edge, seen in the distance in the image below:
The isolated Versant Edge was our new favourite sector of the mountain, as its advanced gladed terrain and 12 minute-long fixed-griped lift kept the crowds away. We enjoyed many runs through its intermediate and advanced glades, and despite the poorer conditions, we were amazed at how deep the late-March snowpack was, due to the record snowfall this season! The snow conditions in the trees was ok the harder side, but it was still skiable, and we had an amazing time.
After enjoying a few laps on the Versant Edge, we headed to the Versant Nord to ski its terrain. The double-black Expo was icy, though the patches of snow on the edges of the run made it doable, though it was by far the steepest run I had done. As terrifying as that was, seeing skiers trying to decent the cliff of Dynamite, an even steeper run with a cliff in the middle of it, with poor cover, seemed like insanity!
We also rode large moguls on Windigo, which was a tiring, but fun, experience!
The park run had excellent groomed snow, and we practiced improving our skills on the boxes and jumps:
Returning to the South Side after lunch at 12pm, I wanted to try the black cruiser Erik Guay, as it seemed like a fun run with amazing views. However, this turned out to be my worst nightmare in skiing coming true. As mentioned above with the mountain’s steepest trail, Dynamite, remaining open in unsafe conditions, it seems like Tremblant has a tendency to open runs that are extremely unsafe for skiers and riders. The second we got on the catwalk path to access the run, we noticed the ungroomed sign, then immediately felt the ice under our skis. Continuing on, we reached the top of the run, expecting that conditions would change. Unfortunately, they did not. This steep black diamond run, which was so isolated it had no way connecting to better-groomed terrain, was a sheet of ice. Due to the previous day’s melt and overnight refreeeze, in addition to the cold weather that day, the solid surface did not even have a patch of snow. Standing at the top of the run, I was shocked and terrified at how bad the conditions were. A group of snowboarders could not link turns, and had to descend the run sitting down, speeding uncontrollably down with their boards powerless to stop. To make matters worse, a father and his son attempted it as we paused on top, with the father having a bad after one turn and dislocating his knee. My friend went over to assist him, but I was truthfully paralyzed in fear, clinging to the icy slope with my edges for dear life!
The following GoPro images from my friend capture the fear-including moment:
The first image shows the small sign warning of ungroomed conditions, the second image shows the moment the father fell, and the last image captures the chaotic scenario where I was hanging on to the icy slope, while my friend was assisting the father with the dislocated knee, who at that point was groaning in pain. After a few minutes, we were about to call ski patrol, but luckily, he said that he would be able to ski down himself. While he heard a pop, his knee must have popped back into place, making him still injured, but able to slowly ski down on his own! While my friend descended with the father, I slowly side-slipped my was down, as my edges, unsharpened since the beginning of the season, were not nearly as sharp as his brand-new skis! It took me 15 terrifying minutes to descend the run, side-slipping on all of its steep pitches. This might seem like an overreaction on my behalf, but I have always had a paralyzing fear of ice while skiing, and I did not want to fall and injure myself as the father did! While I’m glad I conquered this insanely icy run, it was my worst nightmare skiing come true! In my opinion, Tremblant should not have opened ungroomed or exposed runs like these, as they are just an injury magnet. In fact, we saw on three different occasions people getting their neck braced in a stretcher by ski patrol, due to possible collisions or losses of control, serving as a chilling reminder to be vigilant of your surroundings and only attempt trails that are within your ability level!
We skiied the much less icy green runs back to base, where we took a small break, before boarding the gondola for a ride back to the summit.
We then decided to remain on the North and Edge sides for the remainder of the day:
After Edge’s last chair at 2:30, we headed to the Versant Nord base, where we skiied the Expo Express lift for another half-hour, before heading back to the main side via the Duncan Express. By this point, all upper mountain and some lower mountain runs were beginning to show their ice, so at 3pm, we decided to head down to the base and call it a day, not wanting to push ourselves any further, as we had a long drive through an incoming snowstorm.
Despite the challenges on some runs, we really enjoyed ourselves that day, especially in the trees at the Versant Edge, and look forward to returning during better conditions next year!