Lots of natural snow, amazing slopes and a consistent fall-line, this is Mont Chilly, located 1 hour and 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa/Gatineau, in the Pontiac region of Quebec.
I had never before visited this mountain, but I came away thoroughly impressed, and eager to return. I set out, knowing I was going to experience something new, but had no idea it would become one of my best ski days in a very long time. I haven't been out right after a good snow storm for a long while, so skiing in prestine natural snow on a new mountain was a great change of pace.
The natural snow, the powder, the glades, the pitches of the trails, everything spoke to me. It is without a doubt, the last best kept secret of the region. From the mountain itself, to the lodge and family that operates it, to the people that come to ski and visit and know everyone by name, it is a venerable time capsule of skiing at its best and truest.
Let’s start from the beginning. I arrived at the mountain in time for the 10am opening. The mountain only operates on weekends, except for certain weekdays during the holidays. After a good snow storm on Saturday, I knew the slopes would be in great shape. In the parking lot, I was greeted by the friendly dogs of the mountain, making sure everyone arriving had a smile on their face. Heading into the cozy lodge, I strapped on my boots and head out ready to the mountain’s homemade T-Bar, built in the mid-60s. Very shortly after, the lift’s engine sputtered to life and the ride up the approximately 450 feet of vertical began. You quickly notice that the mountain has a constant slope to it, there is no flat run outs anywhere.
Arriving at the top, I am faced with 4 trails to choose from, ranging from beginner to a truly intimidating double diamond expert trail.
The beginner trail, also known as #1, is a groomed slope that has several rolls and turns and winds its way down the mountain.
The intermediate trail, #2, is a gladed trail, offering several ways to go down, and proving to be one of my favorites.
The advanced trail, #3 offers a constant pitch with a few turns and nice drops. To the side is #3A, a gladed version of the main trail, with several great drops and tree lines to enjoy.
The expert trail, #4…. Well I didn’t venture there, as the lower half, visible from the base wasn’t something I wanted to experience this visit. It offers quite the drop and challenge, definitely a true black double diamond. I did see several people eagerly head down.
I could not find any ice or hard spots on the trails, no doubt thanks to the mountain being covered only by natural snow. I found myself doing ‘first tracks’ for much of the morning. There may only be 4 numbered trails, but the amount of alternative routes to take, and size of the trails themselves gives you many options, to enjoy and discover.
The lodge at the base offers a snack bar, offering the standard ski lunches of hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. The large windows give you a good view of the slopes beyond as you rest up.
You would be forgiven if you found yourself thinking you were at Sutton or Mont-Sainte-Anne when at the summit. The trails and the snow quality are definitely what make Mont Chilly unique in this region of Quebec. It is mainly frequented by locals and loyal fans, so there are no crowds, and no lines at the lift. At $20 for a lift ticket, you’d be hard pressed to find this kind of experience elsewhere at such a value.
Unfortunately all good things come to an end, and as is always the case, ski days are never long enough. I leave Mont Chilly, eager to return again, and continue my discovery of this hidden secret.
Learn more about Mont Chilly by visiting their site by clicking here : www.montchilly.ca