Only 45 minutes east of Quebec City lies Le Massif de Charlevoix towering over the St.Lawrence. In my opinion, Le Massif is the best ski hill in Eastern Canada by a long shot. Plenty of quality terrain, lots of snow, high vertical, great views and a modern infratructure (well layed out trails, auto-scan chip tickets to roll through the lift gates, new gondola & chairs, nice daylodge, modern signage and ample parking). If you were to relate the Quebec City hills to the ones near Calgary, Le Massif would be Kicking Horse - a bit further drive than the others but better terrain with less people and more snow. Le Massif has the most vertical, the most snowfall, and the most acreage of any hill in Eastern Canada!
Vertical Drop: 2,526 ft / 770 m (118ft/36m Base Elevation & 2645ft/806m Summit Elevation)
Skiable Terrain: 406.3 acres / 164.5 hectares
Trails: 53 Trails & Glades (15% Beginner / 30% Intermediate / 20% Advanced / 35% Expert) 78% of non-gladed trails groomed.
Annual Average Snowfall: 669 cm / 22 ft
Average Maximum Snow Depth: 160-240cm range
We waited anxiously above our first run for patrol to drop the rope (at the Massif you can park at either the bottom or the top) and I figured I would just get ahead of the opening crowd so I burned down the black/blue groomer as quick as possible. The groomers here really remind me of some of the ones in Revelstoke such as Critical Path or Snow Rodeo, very long and wide with rolls all the way. I decided to do a couple more quick burners while the corduroy was still good, and a random glade run.
Next I ventured off to explore le Massif's famous "Hors Piste" area - a section of tree skiing (called "Sous Bois" in Quebec) devoted entirely to off-trail sidecountry skiing. It is accessible by an easy 5-10 minute traverse/hike from the summit across the ridge of a large bowl. In the bowl below lie acres of the Sous Bois, with certain sections man-gladed. A few days ago the hill received a 60cm storm so I figured there would probably still be some pow left over in the trees, and there was! Those gladed sections were pretty much tracked out so I stuck to the dense trees where there was at least a foot of untouched powder everywhere. The riding was good though both the coniferous and then deciduous trees lower down, and even a few mini pillow lines to be had.
The Massifs snowfall is enhanced by lake-effect from the unfrozen St. Lawrence below and the Maritime snowpack was very evident, especially the lower you get. Reminded me a lot of Coastal BC snow. There is plenty of terrain and something for everyone almost. Most runs have a decent pitch, plenty of strong blues and comfortable blacks. There is a lot of great glades & terrific treed runs, both inbounds and in the Hors-Piste sector. Oh, I should mention that today I rode my first official triple-black-diamond! That's right TRIPLE!! I didn't test out the on-hill food, and they didn't have any stickers, but the lodge and atmosphere were both really nice.
To sum it up, the Massif is awesome! Not just for an Eastern hill but straight up. If you find yourself in Quebec one winter, do not miss a day at the Massif. I liked it so much I'll try to squeeze in another day there this spring. -- Video to come soon! Maybe in a day or two --