Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

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Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Patrick » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:20 am

How to start? I was looking at the storm that Jamesdeluxe got in his Quebec-Charlevoix safari. I was looking into making it East, Charlevoix (Mont Edouard) or the Gaspe. The storm hit earlier than I anticipated plus I had taken one week off work for March Break in Vermont with family. Heard that Lucky was heading to Grand Fonds, but I was really curious about Mont Edouard and it had been on THE list for a while. Mont Edouard is about 9 hours from Ottawa, so I wasn't going to burn myself if I was solo, especially that I was looking forward into heading back to VT for Roll-Back-the-Clock at MRG on April 1st and remain in VT until the end of the Easter weekend. However plans can always change and you can never take anything for granted.

Morgane was looking forward to go back to Tremblant, it had been 2 years since her (and my) last visit. My mom had been in town for a few days and she was leaving for a family get-together at her brother's land in Mont Laurier (180 km north from Ottawa) and 100km (nw from Tremblant). We had a late start, she was leaving for her brother and I was leaving for Tremblant. Our drive was pretty different with all changed on Highway 323 and the Autoroute 50 extending further east (eventually is supposed to join the eastern part of it near the abandoned 'new' Montreal airport in Mirabel. We exited the Autoroute in Thurso and passed in-front of the Guy Lafleur Arena. This is a papermill town which is on life support, pretty sad.

Virtually no snow in the Laurentians, man this is really a terrible snow year. I was hearing on the Radio that the snowy World Capital (ie. Ottawa) had received 0cm of snow in March and forecast is 27c for Easter weekend. Edelweiss and Vorlage shutdown operations before the last weekend of March. Pathetic!!! :-( At the time we arrived at the hill, I preferred heading to the North side to park. Hours were from 8:30am to 4pm, however with the time change, surfaces would remain pretty hard all morning. Started skiing at 11am and headed to the summit via the Duncan Express to ski on the South side. Started with the black Taschereau run, issssshhhhhh!!!!! A ice rink without any loose granular on the side. Morgane mentioned that we should have brought our ice skates. At the bottom of that run, I meet up with a co-worker and fellow Master racer which we ended skiing with most of the day. Morgane wanted to ski all the way to the bottom, pretty frozen conditions all the way down. The co-worker mentioned that my daughter skied fast like her dad. :mrgreen: He mentioned the snow was better on Devil River on the North side, however Morgane wanted to continue skiing on the steep (icy) south side slope like Kadahar and wanted to repeat the icerink experience on Taschereau. If you didn't have any shape edges or didn't know how to use them, this run would have been a nightmare in trying to make turns. On that last run we only skied the upper part and heading back to the summit and the Versant Soleil (newest side of the mountain for now maybe 10 years) where the runs are more south oriented. The snow was definitely more carvable here. The bottom of this side now has some development plus a casino and gondola connecting it to the Village on the South Side.

Also skied a few runs on the North side, Duncan, Devil River, Geant...great bluebird day. We caught the last chair and Morgane wanted to see where the Half-pipe was (it used to be on Rope-Tow next to the Lowell Thomas Triple), no sure if it was still there, but that run was now closed and the only option on that side of the North side were the easier runs like Beauchemin. I decided to asked Morgane if she wanted to ski a real old trail and I skied with my mom as a kid. It was Andy, Moe & Axel, a long narrow (real narrow on the Tremblant scale of things) where the surface was good. It's true that steep, snowmaking, overgroomed surfaces on a cold Spring day, generally are pretty brutal. I took a few pictures, one of the old rundown Devil River Lodge that served as lodging back in the 50s and 60s I believe.

Heading back to the Village on the South side as Morgane asked me for a Beaver Tail at lunch and I said it would take too much time on a short ski day. Morgane noticed the gondola was still running over the hill. :shock: Wait a minute, that isn't the gondola to the summit, but the one that connects the village to the Soleil side (and the casino). We went to ride the gondola and looked at everything at what Tremblant had become. Urbanization of a country landscape, in the village, across the mountains and lakes. Very far from Joe Ryan vision of a rural Quebec setting with small cottage and a copy of an old church from l'île d'Orléans. The new Tremblant village architecture is mirror at old Quebec City. L'île d'Orléans close by to Quebec City is protected from development, not Tremblant. As we are about to get back on the Gondola to head to the Village, we noticed 3 deers next to us. We are invading their habitat. Versant Soleil and many of surrounding areas where wilderness areas, a bit less know a days.

As we drove back toward Ottawa, we passed the Grand Lodge on Lac Ouimet, place of the now defunct Villa Bellevue. A hotel that had a ski school in which Ernie MCCulloch, Bob Richardson and my dad had been directors in the 50s. And then had been ski near to the lost Gray Rocks icon. The sign on the other side has had it's first 'R' removed, the only thing renaming are the slopes and the shutdown landmark hotel. The quad was removed and the oldest first were dismantled. Is there another real estate development planned on he very slopes and on the site of the hotel on the shores of Lac Ouimet? One year ago, was it's last weekend in operation. Another long history had ended.

My dad was a ski instructor at these areas wouldn't recognized the place. My mom, that I thought me to ski, and I skied mainly here in the 70s and early 80s, Mont Tremblant Lodge (as the resort was named then) is long gone. I arrived in Ottawa at 8:30pm, my wife was worried and had terrible news. My mom had just been hospitalized in Mont Laurier, we left for Mont Laurier as fast as we could. Drove through the rain then snow. Arrived at the hospital at midnight in the snow and took a hotel next to the hospital. Walk in the snow the next morning, my mom would have loved it. Stayed at the Hospital until early morning yesterday. My mother was still active, she climbed up the mountain (500ft vert) on her brother's land twice on Sunday. She didn't alpine ski anymore, but she still cross-country skis played golf. Although she didn't start skiing until she was 18, she thought skiing too many of brothers and sisters. Her dad worked in the forest and groomed the slopes of Mont Tremblant Lodge with snowshoes in the 40s. My mom was part of this big French-Canadians family with 18 kids, many of which came to the Hospital.I was supposed to be in Vermont today, however now I need to drive to Montreal.

So this is probably the last TR or significant contribution in a post you'll get from me a while. Enjoy the Spring, record temps forecast here. I might get away for 1 day of turns here and there. Not for the streak, but more to get away from what I have to deal with right now. Not easy. Sorry for a long emotional TR, but I really needed to write something for my friends here and elsewhere.

You never know what life has in store for you, so live life now.
Last edited by Patrick on Thu May 27, 2010 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Admin » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:30 am

Thoughts & prayers are with your Mom and your family, Patrick.

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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:37 am

Admin wrote:Thoughts & prayers are with your Mom and your family, Patrick.

Likewise.

Patrick doesn't paint a very appetizing portrait of Tremblant, at least if skiing is your main reason for going. What about La Reserve? I've always been curious about that hill.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Patrick » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:59 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:
Admin wrote:Thoughts & prayers are with your Mom and your family, Patrick.

Likewise.

Patrick doesn't paint a very appetizing portrait of Tremblant, at least if skiing is your main reason for going. What about La Reserve? I've always been curious about that hill.


Tremblant is a great mountain with over 2000' vert. Morgane and I had a great time, it's just that the snow didn't soften up much during the day. It was to be expected. I was lamenting and looking back at the place on a nostalgic way. That was the way I was going to post it, even before I found out about my mom. Gray Rocks, le Mont Daniel (next to my uncle's place) which shutdown 9 years ago. We were talking and there isn't a ski area from the Abitibi area to Mont Tremblant. The people from Mont Laurier used to have le Mont Daniel, the people from Labelle had Belmont...times are changing. You either like the urban modern stuff like places as Tremblant, Sunday River, Stowe, even Jay is changing which are totally the opposite to the Mad Smuggs (for how long) of this World.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:48 am

Patrick doesn't paint a very appetizing portrait of Tremblant, at least if skiing is your main reason for going.

I'm with jamesdeluxe all the way on this one. I've never read a TR from Tremblant that would interest me in going there. And there are quite a few eastern areas based upon FTO reports that would be on my list to check out the next time NASJA goes East (won't be for at least the next 3 years).

Very sorry to hear about your mom, Patrick.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Martin » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:49 am

Tiens bon Patrick, on envoie nos pensées positives a ta maman, ta famille et toi.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Anthony » Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:25 pm

Sorry to hear about your Mother.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby colin_extreme » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:32 pm

I was at Tremblant the day before, same conditions. Pretty much all old manmade snow, frozen hard, unusual for them at this time of year, for sure. Trying to use up my T-Pack before they close up. I waited all season for them to get a big snowfall, but it never happened.

The big storm at the end of February dumped 70cm on Sutton, etc and made it up to dump 40cm on Saint Sauveur (i believe), but Tremblant missed out.. It's evident on the drive up as there was still a "snow zone" between Ste-Sauveur and just south of Tremblant

Sorry to hear about your mom
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Patrick » Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:32 pm

Thanks for everyone good wishes.

To answer James' question about why not La Réserve. The ski area conditions would have probably been similar due to orientation of the hill + it's more the 2-3 times shorter than Tremblant and much further from Ottawa.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Patrick » Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:40 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:
Patrick doesn't paint a very appetizing portrait of Tremblant, at least if skiing is your main reason for going.

I'm with jamesdeluxe all the way on this one. I've never read a TR from Tremblant that would interest me in going there. And there are quite a few eastern areas based upon FTO reports that would be on my list to check out the next time NASJA goes East (won't be for at least the next 3 years).


I've always mentioned that in my opinion, Tremblant is maybe arond 10-12 in the East as term as ski hill. Hard to believe, but I still place overall (terrain/challenge/snow) above Sutton and Orford in Quebec. It's true that the high capacity and modern Disneyland version of Old Quebec City isn't for everyone. Other than myself, FTO regular reports seldom make it in Quebec, with the exception of Deluxe's travel bien sûr.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Apr 04, 2010 5:31 am

Patrick wrote: I've always mentioned that in my opinion, Tremblant is maybe around 10-12 in the East as term as ski hill. Hard to believe, but I still place overall (terrain/challenge/snow) above Sutton and Orford in Quebec.

When I started downhill skiing in the winter of 2000, Tremblant was the second ski area I visited (after Orford). I remember it having some fun trails, but the industrial tourism vibe didn't agree with me, and that was 10 years ago. I'm surprised that you'd rather ski there than Sutton and Orford, but you've already given your lukewarm opinion on those mountains, so no surprise, I guess.

Better snow than Sutton? Huh? :-k
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Patrick » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:13 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:I remember it having some fun trails, but the industrial tourism vibe didn't agree with me, and that was 10 years ago.

I agree with you about the tourism vibe thing, I generally compare uniquely challenge/terrain/snow ... that is always what I base my preferences. When I talk better than Sutton/Orford, it's a neutral analysis based on the three criterias above without being tainted by the atmosphere and my personal overall impression and vibe. That being said, MRG blows Tremblant always in a second. Mountain and continuous vertical wise as well and vibe that I like (although I can see some people liking the McSkiing high capacity shopping thing over Mad). Stowe, Sugarloaf and Whiteface are three different places, but the mountain are top 3 in my opinion based on my neutral analysis.

jamesdeluxe wrote:I'm surprised that you'd rather ski there than Sutton and Orford, but you've already given your lukewarm opinion on those mountains, so no surprise, I guess.


In a perfect conditions and snow, I would prefer skiing Orford over Sutton and Tremblant, however you have to go with over a course of one season. Orford's batting average isn't as great or consistent as the two others. Vertical lines at Sutton are rather short and you hit Sutton right in midweek, right? Weekend is a whole different matter.

jamesdeluxe wrote:Better snow than Sutton? Huh? :-k


I didn't say more snow, it was the overall of the three factors. Sutton has shorter fall line skiing and less challenging runs that the two mentioned in this discussion. Yes, you'll get more powder days at Sutton, but also more rain than the Laurentians. Spring skiing at Tremblant (when the surfaces are soft) is when it's prime time to ski there in my books. Am sure that Anthony and anyone else that has skied out of Montreal for years can attest that snow conditions are more consistent up north (less crappy conditions, but also less amazing powder days) than the Townships. I know Sutton and Tremblant extremely well, even if I don't ski them that often anymore.

Ah yes, remember...in my opinion, Mont Ste-Anne (same factors as above, forget above infrastructure because I only care about skiing factors) is the only Quebec ski area that belongs in the top 10. Le Massif and Tremblant are on the edge of it.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Anthony » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:27 pm

I can back up what Patrick is saying as snow is more consistent in the Laurentians over the Townships although less powder days. Honestly, used to like Tremblant when I was a kid . They had a single chair , T bars , back country type runs , all gone now. Nothing like Joe Ryan wanted.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:44 pm

Patrick wrote:a neutral analysis based on the three criterias above

Because of how long he's been skiing and the level of skier he is, Patrick uses a "neutral analysis" (sounds almost Crocker-esque :lol:) of gnar, steepness, and continuous fall-line. If I were that strong a skier, I'm sure I'd feel the same way. But bringing up continuous vertical about a place like Sutton is, to me, similar to going to an Italian restaurant and complaining that its Coquilles Saint Jacques are weak.

Since I'll never catch up to him in the technique department, my "criteria" is weighted more toward aesthetics. I can be happy on a blue or green run if the trees or view look interesting, or the line flows down the mountain in a certain way. Here are some recent examples:

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Sutton

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Grand-Fonds

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Orford

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Edouard

I'm sure that Tremblant has several like these, and some challenging terrain too, but the McSkiing aspect would always be there, like the smell of bad fish.
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Re: Tremblant QC - long story - March 28, 10

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:25 pm

Sorry, I'm not buying Patrick's analysis. Tremblant's natural snowfall appears to be so weak that you're skiing on manmade nearly all of the time. I'd be surprised if there's much glade skiing as shown in james' pictures of other Quebec areas. It's going to be 2-dimensional skiing, either groomers or bumps. And a lot of the time it's one-dimensional, because even joegm isn't skiing moguls when they are bulletproof. I'll take the greater variety of terrain on 1,000 vertical any day over homogenized skiing on twice the vertical.

Patrick wrote:Spring skiing at Tremblant (when the surfaces are soft) is when it's prime time to ski there in my books.

You could say the same thing about Whiteface, and based on FTO reports WF is in a completely different league from Tremblant in terrain quality.

Patrick wrote: I generally compare uniquely challenge/terrain/snow ... that is always what I base my preferences.

Me too. But the bottom line is if the natural snow is deficient you rarely get to ski the unique/challenging terrain. This is the primary reason NVT has the best skiing in the East.

On a larger scale with higher quality on both counts, this is the same comparison I would make between Sun Valley last weekend and Mammoth this weekend. I suspect the vast majority on FTO would agree with me which is the more interesting skiing. Sun Valley has some of North America's most famous mogul runs and they were all deserted on my 3 days there due to cool temps after a warm previous week.
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