Versant Avila - AKAMP Day 1 - June 28, 2019
It barely feels like a month has passed since Sommet Saint-Sauveur's skison ended....because really it's only been 21 days! And yet the AKAMP hype is real! AKAMP, now in its 12th year, is a mirage of a snow park in the heat of the summer. This year for the first time, the snow park is located next to the Babalou chairlift on Mont Avila right in front of the main lodge. The new terrain offers some advantages, the first being a more gentle profile, making the park a bit more accessible to novice freestyle skiers and riders, and the second being a lift-serviced snow park! AKAMP runs 9AM to 9PM daily with options for a daytime pass (9AM-5PM) or an evening pass from 5PM-9PM.
I spend the day at the office before heading out around 4:30, figuring I'd be stuck in traffic on the 15 but it turned out to be fluid until the 440, and then stop and go through to Saint-Jerome - still, not bad for a long weekend Friday. A few drops of rain hit my windshield on the drive up, but since AKAMP runs rain or shine, I was prepared for the forecast either way - cloudy, with threats of 1-4 mm of rain after 7pm. I arrived on site around 6:30 and sipped a cider while getting ready, registered, and then prepared to catch my first chair of the day!
The Babalou lift, for the uninitiated, is a cute, slow-moving, two-seater, and provides an excellent view of the park on the ride up. There weren't a whole lot of people out this evening, but definitely a steady flow. The park was set up with several features, rails, pipes, ramps, and the run is groomed such that you can ski on and off without having to upload, skis in hand. The lift, however, doesn't go all the way to the top of the park, so a bit of hiking, or skating, or hopping, depending on your situation, is needed to get to the top, where there are a few more features installed. I arrived a bit on the late side so am saving the hike for tomorrow.
I spent the next two hours cruising down the fast and hard brown sugar, probably sun-baked from the afternoon as just beneath the surface, it was still fluffy. I don't do park but it's relatively easy to ski around the features and respect the space and timing of the freestylers who are using the features. With an assortment of music being played at the sk8 park below, it's a super chill vibe (and not just because it is at least ten degrees cooler than the city on the AKAMP glacier!). The best trick I saw today - freestyle kid jumps end to end over every single jump in succession on his ride down and lands it every single time.
At the end of the evening, I headed back to Montreal to the company of my partner and our cats, and a delicious dinner of teriyaki bbq skewers and sake.
Here are a couple of snaps from today!
First ride up the Babalou chair, so great to watch everyone in the park from this perspective!!
Riding up the Babalou!
Full view of the park while riding up - the pano makes it look a lot flatter than it is.
The snowcat runs through the park at the end of each day, and AKAMP participants rebuild the park in a different configuration each day starting at 7AM.
Bottom of the run leading right into the chair.