Le Massif de Charlevoix ski area is located in Petite-Rivière-Saint François, Charlevoix, Québec, Canada, a 75 minute drive from Quebec City. It has the highest vertical in Eastern Canada.
Apart from a big vertical drop and lots of snow, Le Massif de Charlevoix’s main claim to fame is that the area is accessible both from the top and from the base. There are three peaks, two of which are currently developed.
Skiing season usually lasts from early December to late April.
Le Massif de Charlevoix gets a lot of snow, and keeps it, as it also gets little rain for an eastern ski area. The natural snowpack (in the trails) can exceed eight feet at the summit on a typical winter. However, the base is at sea level and can lose its snow quickly once April rolls in.
La Charlevoix, the steepest trail, is home to the only alpine training center east of the Rockies for Canada’s athletes. This trail, with a steepest pitch of 64%, is considered by many to be one of the top three most difficult women’s downhill trails in the world.
Skiing at Le Massif started at the end of the 1970s, with snowmobiles towing groups of skiers from the main road at the top and a van serving as the lift. In the early 1980s, commercial operations started with la Société de développement du Massif. Starting in 1983-1984, school buses were used to drive skiers from the base to the top after each run. In 1992-1993 two lifts were installed : a quad high speed chair and a double chair.
2001 was a year of significant change for Le Massif. A new road was built from route 138 to the top of the mountain. The distance between Quebec City and Le Massif summit was then reduced to 70 km instead of the 95 km previously needed to reach the base via the village of Petite-Rivière-Saint-François. At the same time, The Cap Maillard was raised by 35 meters to create La Charlevoix, an FIS standard downhill trail mapped by alpine course designer (and champion) Bernhard Russi. With La Charlevoix, Le Massif is now able to host the elite of alpine skiing.
Daniel Gauthier, co-founder of le Cirque du Soleil, bought le Massif in 2002. Daniel Gauthier is no longer a co-owner of le Cirque du Soleil and has used part of the proceeds of the sale of his participation in that venture to purchase Le Massif.
In 2005, Jean-Luc Brassard, the 1994 Olympic Champion in freestyle mogul skiing, became a spokesman for Le Massif.
In 2009, after a year record of 915 cm of snow, le Massif added 26 acres (110,000 m2) of hors piste skiing on Mount A Liguori.
Beginning in September 2011, a new tourist train service from Quebec City began operation, making a stop in the winter at Le Massif.