How about… Take Off to the Great White North?
Quebec has just the right amount of snow and snow showers are forecast just about every other day.
My wife, Karen, and I spent the holidays in Quebec with our friends Jan and Ben. They had a 2 bedroom, 2 bath timeshare week near St. Sauveur at the GeoPremier Resort. With airfares on United at only 200 bucks and a free place to stay, it was an easy decision. It was one of the less stressful ski trips; the direct flight from National Airport to Montreal took only two hours and the drive to the resort only 45 minutes. The resort was less than half an hour from Mont St. Sauveur and about an hour from Tremblant, the Number One ski resort in Eastern North America.
Two days isn’t really enough time to fully enjoy Tremblant. The mountain has 94 trails, 13 lifts and a vertical drop of 2,115 feet. The town at the base of the mountain is like something out of fairytale. Brightly colored ski lodges stacked high on one another contrast against the white slopes in the background. The roofs all have numerous peaks and dormers and a beautiful clock tower adorns the village center. There are too many shops and restaurants to count. A small open cab gondola whisks skiers from the center of town and over the buildings to the base of the lifts. A main gondola takes you to the top of the mountain.
The trails are mostly intermediate and advanced (blue and black). The black slopes, however, are well groomed and easily negotiated. The top half of the mountain is sometimes covered in clouds. Thus, it’s foggy skiing half way down. On clear days, however, it’s COLD! Damned cold! The high for the day might be 5 degrees Fahrenheit during peak season. So bring that expedition-weight underwear. We didn’t mind the cold so much. Well, that’s not true. Ben and I didn’t mind the cold. At least neither of us admitted to minding the cold. While Jan and Karen would take breaks to warm up in one of the lodges, Ben and I skied on like menly men, making sure that we squeezed in as many runs as possible during the day. We were there to ski, after all, and not sit in the lodge. We skied ‘til they shut down the lifts at 3:30. Skiing blind in the fog of the cloud, however, made for tough going on the unfamiliar slopes. Karen and Jan deferred to the lower part of the mountain where it was clear. Ben and I again proved our manliness by skiing totally blind down the advanced terrain as fast as possible. Because that’s what we men do.
The slopes at Mont St. Sauveur didn’t suffer the fog problem of Tremblant. Still, it was cold. The one day the high got up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. Woo hoo!!! Sauveur reminded me a lot of Whitetail in its layout. It has more trails (38) but less of a vertical drop (700’). Sauveur is more of a resort for locals and doesn’t attract the crowds like Tremblant. The slopes are wide and well groomed and the variety of trails makes up for the lower vertical drop. They also offer night skiing. But with nighttime temperatures of -20 degrees Fahrenheit, even menly men like me and Ben decided to call it quits when the sun went down. Mont Saint Sauveur is part of a chain of resorts that includes: Mont Avilla, Morin Heights, Mount Olympia, Mont Gabriel and Edelweiss. These small resorts are all located near Mont St. Sauveur in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. A multi-day lift ticket at any of these resorts is good at the others. We, however, stuck with Sauveur mostly due to convenience and the lack of enough time to explore all of the other ski areas.
And there are even more ski resorts in the Laurentians: Gray Rocks, Mont Blanc, Bromont. So it looks like another trip will be necessary. We just need Jan and Ben to invite us back to their condo.
But if not, accommodations and lift tickets are inexpensive. Tremblant offers peak season 3 night/2 day lift ticket and lodging packages starting at $80 US per person and 5 night/4 day lift ticket-lodging packages starting at $134 US per person. A three day lift ticket at Mont St. Sauveur and its partner resorts costs $111 Canadian ($91 US). Mont St. Sauveur also offers information on a variety of lodging in the charming town of St. Sauveur.
Matthew Graham is a skier as well as a hang glider and paraglider pilot, SCUBA diver, cavern diver, equestrian, polo player, sailor, hiker, biker, rock climber, paddler, and skater. He's also yoga teacher and certified personal trainer and has dabbled in just about every other sport, even stunt car driving and bull riding! He has written for the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, USA Weekend Magazine, Hooked on the Outdoors, Richmond Magazine, Chesapeake Life Magazine, Metro Sports, American Fitness, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Recreation News and numerous other outdoor and travel publications.