Rather than stand idly by and let the snow outside keep you inside, the Ledger wants to help get you out of a snuggie and into a snow suit, just in time for the best part of the ski and snowboard season. Montréal happens to be smack dab in east coast ski country. So, whether you’re here for the studies or happen to be a local kid, make some time for some slope-time this semester. If you need it the SSMU Ski & Snowboard club can help make that happen.
THE LOCAL HILL: MONT ST SAUVEUR
Tremblant? Fuggedaboutit. Instead fill your pockets with enough sandwiches and Snickers bars to last you twelve hours, hop into your buddies car, and drive just 50 minutes north of Montreal to the birthplace of Quebéc skiing. What Saint Sauveur lacks in elevation is made up in efficient lift infrastructure, a variety of peaks to disperse the crowds, and an atmosphere far less snotty than its nothern sisters (Tremblant). Prices also happen to be pretty alright. $54 will let you go from 8:30 am to 6 pm on the weekend and if you just want to blow off steam after class $40 will let you ski from 3 to 10:30 pm.
Pro tip: Late in the day keep an eye out for trail grooming to prepare the mountain for night skiing. If you play your cards right you can ski some fresh corduroy at 4:30 in the afternoon.
BEST MOUNTAIN FOR A DATE*: LE MASSIF DE CHARLEVOIX
Le Massif is home to some of the best scenic views in North American skiing. As you make your way down this advanced/intermediate mountain you can’t help but get a facefull of the Saint Laurent river every time you lift your head. A substantial off piste area can be explored on the north eastern part of the mountain when the conditions and your skills are up for it. Also, there’s a parking lot at the summit which is weirdly cool. Ticket prices are reasonable; for those of university age (18-25) you can ski on $54 from 8:30 am to 3:15 pm. Other prices take after the mountain and tend to be steep, so break out that Christmas money.
*Assuming your date is an intermediate skier/snowboarder, and is up for the 3.5 hour drive. But, hey, you could always get a hotel and make a weekend out of it; there’s nothing to do in hotel rooms but watch tv and…
THE PLACE TO BE WHEN IT DUMPS: JAY PEAK
When we’re blessed with good snow, Jay Peak, in northern Vermont, is the place to be. With an out-of-bound policy as liberal as Vermont’s politics, fresh tracks can be found all day after a storm…if you know where to go. It definitely pays to hook up with someone who knows the mountain on your first few trips to Jay Peak. Tickets will set you back $69 for the day. But, with the relatively short drive (2 hours) and the low cost of American beer, you’re basically saving money everytime you go here. To the chagrin of many locals the mountain just put in a big ass hotel and waterslide at the base, but don’t let that nonsense deter you from visiting at least one.
Should further convincing be required check out some of the videos produced by the ladies and gents at Meathead films; every year they deliver some excellent clips filmed at Jay Peak.
THE BEAST IN THE EAST: SUGARLOAF
Sugarloaf has the vertical to host World Cup ski events and the local olympians to back it up. It is also one of the few places you can still ride the lift with a local who’s worried about getting his ‘94 F-150 started at the end of a cold day on the hill one run, and a Mass-hole who’s staying in his “mountain home” to escape Boston on the weekend the next.
Honestly: Sugarloaf isn’t cheap, all that close to Montréal, or constantly blessed by nice weather. A full price day ticket is all of $83 and it’ll be close to four hours of drive time from Montréal before you have the privilege of paying for one. It gets breezy too; in 2010 a chairlift derailed due to what was probably equal parts wind and old age.
But but but, Sugarloaf is the second tallest mountain in Maine, the largest ski resort this side of the Rockies, and home to the steepest trail in the east: White Nitro. A few years ago, a push to develop 655 acres of off-piste terrain elevated this ski resort large to plain ol’ big. And the terrain really does cater to all skill levels. Thanks to Timberline, a “green dot” trail, beginners can safely ski or ride down from the top of the mountain while experts can head off the backside to get at the only above tree-line serviced skiing in over 1,000 miles. It’s a blast.