Depressing December in the days before Christmas Holidays. Everyone connected from close and far to skiing would have been concerned: ski shops trying to sell gear, ski areas and skiers. Green December in the Not so Great White North capital; not a regular thing and pretty depressing. Odds for a White Christmas was bleak, the forecast wasn’t promising, however it was about to change.
The warm weather moved away and Winter officially started on the “Solstice”. One month after the first snow official snow fall came and melted away within 48 hours, the white was back in the morning on my late mother’s birthday, December 22. Rain turned into snow and it stuck. A cold day on that Friday when I had to pick up my mother-in-law at the Montreal Airport (she doesn’t like Canadian Winter, however felt oblige to pay us a visit when my daughters asked her this Summer in France). Reminded me of her first Christmas with us; the warmest day of her 1993 stay was -19c.
Saturday December 24
First day for my oldest daughter since her knee injury last March. She was somewhat concerned. The Edelweiss Ski Team had already skied a few times, but I was swamped plus my daughter needed new boots.
What a day to start the season after a warm fall, it was -20c when we rolled in a pretty empty parking lot. Edelweiss only had Chemin des Bois open with a variation around the bottom island with the last stretch of Easy Street. Conditions on the run were nice and enjoyable to ski. The rest of the hill looked pretty pathetic with only 2-3 snow guns running to cover the rest of the runs; Zoomer only had the small layer of natural snow. Being Christmas Eve, training lasted only a half day and got 9 runs in. Temps went up to warm -15c when he left.
Tuesday December 27
Hoping that Edelweiss would get some extra runs open as the cold weather continued. There was a new layer of snow that had fallen on Christmas Day. I would have liked to go out of Boxing Day, but Morgane had some shopping plans.
Snow report was talking about 5 runs… but it was about more about creative marketing. The average skier would still call it one. I also never realized that those bottom rails at the bottom of Easy Street was official one run then you add the Magic Carpet slope. Temps were hovering around the freezing mark and was too warm to run guns.
Great conditions on the open run in the morning. Surface iced up and tourist traffic made it less enjoyable; that is when I decided to go in.
It snowed pretty much all day and forecast is calling for a 15-20cm.
Wednesday December 28
The snowcast turned out to be a disappointment, there was maybe 10-12cm of new plus a slight coat of freezing drizzle in town and possibly at the hill. The surfaces were better the previous day as they were somewhat iced up as there was a strong wind blowing straight uphill on the bottom half of the hill and probably blew the loose stuff as well as the lighter skiers off the trail. It could have been worst, the initial forecast was calling for mixed bag or simply rain.
With a -12c, the guns were slowly turned back on.
Thursday December 29
A freezing deep bluebird day with clouds covered the mountain. The ski operation decided to take advantage of the low temps and make a serious run into to opening up some more terrain by the weekend.
Coldest day of the year with a warm -25c. Best conditions and most enjoyable day at Edelweiss on this Holidays season, I guess the talk of sub -30c windchill on the radio this morning scared a few people away. The wind was pretty calm, but you couldn’t see much at the top part of the run; felt like those whiteout days at the top of Tremblant. Truly enjoying my turns and got 3 extra runs then the previous 2 days. 13 isn’t much, but considering that I’m skiing the same trail everyday…it ain’t bad. If it wasn’t for the extremities and odd frostbite pinches it would be great* (considering the terrain that was open of course).
I’m hoping for more runs maybe as soon as tomorrow. The snowmaking focus was on Easy Street and Yodeler…a few whales on that last one. Those are the next to open, hoping Yodeler isn’t limited to the snowpark at least until they get another blue open. The kids from the race program including my daughter were scattered due to the cold, however they got to ski around the brushes and stubbies today on the lower end of Chemin des bois. Ah the cold temps, if it wasn’t for the extremities. *sigh*
Friday December 30
Still cold, -20c to start off the morning on the slopes. Again, a cloud of snowmaking covered the top of the left side of ski area. The first thing you noticed going up the lift is that there are mountains of snow on Yodeler. I’ve never been so happy to have a green trail open; Easy Street was now open from top to bottom, stopping the monotony of one single runs days. Conditions were not as great as the previous day, Chemin des Bois was scrap down to the ice in the one high traffic corner from the previous week and it was hard to get a clean edge on the first turns down Easy Street, as it was like skiing on marbles from the first groom. It got better as the day went and it help dealing with the traffic issues. At one point, no one was skiing Chemin des Bois in the afternoon. Started snowing as the area was supposed to receive an extra 2-4cm during the day as temperatures climbed. Finished the day at 2pm with the balmy -12c. No skiing for us on the 31st, we are heading for Montreal for a day trip to meet an old ski from France now leaving in Washington DC visiting some in-laws. On the Edelweiss front, Yodeler and the tiny Chute should be open pretty close to open; serious amount of snow was accumulating in those trails.
Summary of the Holiday week was 55 runs in 5 days mostly on one green run for approximately 10900 meters vertical in temps ranging from +2c to -25c. There was somewhat more variety last year with Yodeler being open and the race team got better training, but everyone is hurting more this year.
From the Edelweiss website:
THE LARGEST AMOUNT OF TRAILS OPEN IN THE REGION
Thanks to our high-performance snowmaking system, we can offer you the largest skiing ground in the region!
That quote is seeing thing with rose-coloured glasses. If you read above, things aren’t so great at Edelweiss. What are the conditions elsewhere?
Mont Cascades had a greater variety of runs open with an official count of 6 out of 20 trails open, however it was 3 separate runs from Exhibition on the World Cup side to Promenade on the main side.
Fortune count was 8 spread out on Skyline and the Valley. Vorlage had at least one top to bottom.
In Eastern Ontario Calabogie has half their runs open and flat Pakenham has most of them open.
Why do I choose Edelweiss, especially went it would seem that they are slower than other to offer more terrain early in the season? There are many pros and cons in the equation which includes price, distance and connection with the ski club. Edelweiss also compensates with an access to Mt St-Sauveur when the area is closed.
Edelweiss isn’t the only one hurting, opening across the East and Quebec is particular is somewhat depressing. I’m thinking of friends that spend their Holidays in the Townships are spend money to ski the few open crowded slopes like Sutton and Owl’s Head which have respectively at 13% and 22% of their trails opens. Things aren’t that much better considering that this was the ‘cash’ time of the season for ski areas. Yes, everyone is hurting in the main ski regions of the East.