A couple of inches of new snow in town on Friday. 🙂
There were a few skiing options for me this weekend (list of the East openings) and I didn’t feel like driving far after another crazy week. Looking at the radar, it would seem that the safest precipitation was north of the border with the possible exception in the higher elevation. I thought that Maine would have been good for new snow, but I heard otherwise.
I looked for an easy day drive Tremblant or St-Sauveur. I settled for the easier drive: Camp Fortune, a short 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa. The area was the only local still in operation after Calabogie and Cascades decided not to open this weekend due to the weather. Its true, that gray skies and possible rain showers isn’t going to attract many Spring skiers in April.
I slept in this morning and slowly looked at the forecast to see if the rain was still in the air before committing. My motto is I would be crazy not to buy a lift ticket to encourage a local ski area with great spring terrain as good as MSS only miles from my house. Although my Edelweiss pass is good in late season at MSS, the difference in gas would nullify that advantage over Camp Fortune. Tremblant’s only advantage is the terrain vs these small two hill, but the place is about as long of a drive than MSS plus it ain’t free.
Only the Skyline side of Fortune was open which was fine with me as it the area’s best terrain. The Valley and Meech sides had snow, but it makes more financial sense to run one lift plus the side is serviced by the small Skyline Lodge. The drive is also shorter by 5 minutes from town. If it would be the opposite, I might have driven to MSS or Tremblant instead.
Arrived at the Skyline lodge and half-day was only 40 minutes away, but decided that I was late enough as it is. I was somewhat concern with the dark clouds that were moving in as I drove to Chelsea. There was a 25% Spring discount on tickets which turned out to be approximately $32 for a few hours of skiing.
Everything was nice carveable corn: the steep Heggtveit to the mellower Sparks. The only parts that were rope off were Lower Canadian and Swan Dive, however both were skiable and skied. Turning on Lower Canadian was like skiing on cream cheese… so smooth.
The person behind the counter in the lodge was surprised at the amount of passes that had been sold. The Ottawa diehard ski community was out. I recognized a few faces as I started accumulating the run, moving from one run to the next. The first familiar face mentioned that some people in Invermere and Nelson BC had heard about some guy in Ottawa skiing every month. I was asked where the count was on MadPat’s streak: April was the 91-month in a row.
Not surprise to see Manuel again, a regular Fortune skier for years which I’ve seen at Tremblant or MSS in late season like last May. A few runs later, I meet up with one, two, three then four Masters or former Masters ski racers. Then I really started accumulating runs.
There was a bit of a light sprinkle towards the end of the day, but not enough to slow us down. Did every runs a number of times, plus first time ever down Swan Dive. Extremely variable terrain with a few twigs, but no time to slowdown as I didn’t necessarily want to people notice me. The definition for closing terrain isn’t the same, this run was much nicer than Contour at Orford on Easter Sunday. The Lower Canadian was rope off for large bare patch after the intersection, but was easily manageable. Skied much more than I had initially anticipated; managed 20 runs wall-to-wall until last chair. It helps when the Spring skiing is good and you have great company. The chat continued in the parking and reminded me of the last time I saw former Masters skier Trevor, I had just finished skiing Fortune in April under similar weather: it was on April 10, 2011.
Camp Fortune was hoping to make it another weekend and there was certainly enough snow. The problem might be the financial commitment. All the skiers I skied had season passes are returned the following day. Unfortunately a bearing broke on the chair at 12:30pm to definitely end the season. After that point, Camp Fortune was “Earn your turns” only terrain.