Sometimes you get lucky. As lousy as this winter’s been, we scored a week of stellar conditions over the February break. Of course it wasn’t pure luck. We stacked the odds in our favor by heading 5 hours north to Mont Tremblant, in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec.
Ironically, the locals apologized for low snow conditions upon our arrival. Apologize, for what? With 30 inches of snow on the ground and the mountain 100% open including glades and natural snow trails, it seemed like we had stepped out of late November right into mid-winter.
I hadn’t expected Tremblant’s latitude to play such a crucial role when I booked our vacation back in October. Instead, Tremblant’s biggest selling points (besides the skiing itself) were the foreign culture and language, bustling ski village, extensive cross-country ski opportunities and easy access (5-hour drive from home). But with just about the entire northeast washed out by rain and warm temperatures this winter, Tremblant’s been one of the very few places with decent snow conditions. Saved by latitude.
We arrived Sunday afternoon at the tail end of a brutal cold wave, the coldest of the season, and skied Monday in relatively pleasant single digit temperatures under a bluebird sky. The blue skies didn’t last for long though, and by Tuesday morning it was snowing. Hard. By the time the storm wound down around midnight, 41 cm - 16 inches - had fallen. Needless to say, the skiing was outstanding - the best conditions we’ve had all winter, by a long shot.
At the recommendation of a ski journalist friend, we had the unique opportunity to ski with a Mountain Host on Tuesday. At first I was a bit worried that an “official” tour might slow us down on a powder day, but our guide quickly figured out that we were fine with trees and powder and could ski at a fast pace. The kids had a great time skiing with Jacynthe, and Beth really appreciated having another woman to ski with. So an extra “thanks” goes out to Jacynthe and Mont Tremblant.
Nothing brings out skiers like a foot of new snow, and Wednesday morning we were greeted by a gondi line that must have been 500 skiers deep when we lined up for First Tracks at 7:45. But the line moved amazingly quickly, and by just a few minutes after 8am we were at the summit drinking in the dazzling early morning views. As for those 500 skiers ahead of us, the pull of the summit lodge must have been too strong as we had the slopes all to ourselves.
With all the new snow, the place to be was in the trees, the bumps or anything steep. Our favorites included Expo (steep double-black), CBC (narrow, winding double-black), Dynamite, and Brasse Camarade, a steep glade in the Soleil trail pod that led to a picturesque cabin in the woods where we took a late morning hot chocolate break:
Beth called it a day by 3, but the kids kept me out till the lifts shut down at 4. That’s a long day of skiing!
I had intentionally planned our week to include enough flexibility that we’d be able to take a day or two to cross-country ski or explore one of the many nearby low-key Laurentian ski areas. But with conditions as good as they were, we stuck to Tremblant for the rest of the week, finding plenty of variety to fill 5 days of skiing.
Here’s a sampler of some of our favorites from the rest of the week:
Narrow natural snow trails:
East coast gnarl:
Trees (we had a lot of favorite tree runs):
Driving home at the end of the week, it was amazing how quickly the snow disappeared south of Montreal. After such a great week up north, it’s tough to return to reality, but I have a feeling we’ll be heading north of the border again in the not-too-distant future.