Le Massif+ March 4-6, 2016

1) Technically Quebec is in the Southeast but this seemed best located in the Northeast forum.
2) This report is 5 days old, conditions have definitely changed by now. Seemed worth posting anyway.

A few weeks ago a casual work acquaintance mentioned that he was planning a trip to Le Massif Quebec and asked if I was interested in joining on. It sounded like it good opportunity so I was in. His group consisted of about 10 guys some of whom I vaguely knew most of who I didn't. As the weeks progressed and New England conditions continued to deteriorate and Quebec wasn't looking too much better, people started dropping out from the trip. We were close to cancelling altogether as of a week ago when we had a cut off for the hotel reservations. I decided to go for it regardless of conditions since it was a rare weekend where I had absolutely no other conflicts. By then we were down to a group of 4 with still some hesitation. And then it started to snow in Quebec. Last week Le Massif got hit hard picking up close to 3 feet in just a couple of days. They were even closed for half a day because of road closures.

At this point I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know what type of skiers these strangers were. I didn't really know what their plan was for skiing. I didn't know what kind of conditions we would find. So I packed up of an assortment of cross country, backcountry, and downhill skis. Threw random gear in a bag, and decided to just take whatever came my way.

We left Lincoln NH at 6 a.m. and headed north. The lack of snow on the ground in northern NH and VT didn't make it feel like a ski trip. But by the time we got near the city of Quebec we could see the snowfall that they had just been slammed with. Road crews were still digging out the city and some highway lanes were shut down. North of the city snow banks where 6 to 8 feet high at least.

Our first stop was Mont Saint Anne Nordic center. As we passed the Alpine resort we could see really crowded trails, most likely due to the QC school vacation week. But as always the XC center was a ghost town. I've never seen such as extensive Nordic operation. A couple of lodges, 200km of well maintained trails, a half dozen serve-yourself tuning benches complete with irons, locker rooms, etc. They Nordic seriously and we were out of place with our beat up old backcountry gear and lack of spandex. Trail network is amazing and we had a blast on the rolling terrain. Conditions were perfect: 15degrees, bright sunshine, and super soft fresh snow. Moose prints were everywhere. We did about 10 miles including stops at a few of their cool huts.

The next day we switched gears for some downhill/BC skiing at Le Masiff, where the had a LOT OF SNOW!! The road in....

The other 3 guys were on tele, so I opted for my AT setup, still not sure what kind of skiing they had in mind. Le Massif is a unique place. Most of the parking and facilities are at the top. Our in was near the bottom so we approached the mountain that way. The bottom has limited parking and services, but they open 15min ahead of the top so that you don't lose fresh tracks opportunities. Ticket prices were $75CAN, which is great considering the exchange rate. But don't forget taxes!! It never even occurred to me that a lift ticket would have tax! That was another $11. Still $86CAN is something like $64US. We took a couple of laps on the groomers to orient ourselves to the mountain and to each other. Groomers were perfect soft corduroy with a generous ~10' wide ungroomed swath on the sides. I wish more New England mountains would do that. The most famous and impressive aspect of LE Massif is it's location directly on the St Lawrence Seaway. The views are absolutely insane! There was a thin cloud layer so the pics don't really do it justice....

After confirming that the everyone was basically the same level of skier and that everyone was mostly interested in getting into the woods, we departed the groomers. Le Massif has an enormous adjacent section of off-piste sidecountry. They barely advertise it and the printed trail maps don't really explain it. However, there are these signs along the fringes that give you a tiny bit of info.

The green are nicely cleared glade "sectors", the rest is pretty dense and with unfavorable fall lines. There are entrances at the top and at the mid point. We opted for the mid point first. This include about 20min of skinning up narrow, moderately pitched trail onto a knoll to access Sector 550 and 4.
sector 550.jpg

Continued in next post for more pics.....
Attached Images

Go to forum thread