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Nothing Fun about Funerals!

I went to a co-worker’s funeral in the beautiful church of St-Sauveur-des-Monts. We joined the organization at the same time and we’re office neighbours in that first year. Three years ago he was diagnosed with inoperative cancer: he died this month at the young age of 42.

David was a guy with a big heart and one of the biggest practical jokers that I have ever meet.

Here are some of his classics:
– Writing bogus reference letters to people who ask him for a reference.
– Filling a cubical up to the top of the wall in paper when an employee came back from parental leave.
– Sending and growing grass on old keyboard at an employee’s desk which was gone for a long period and putting his face on milk cartons.
– Crisscrossing the computer to monitor cables of two neighbouring colleagues. Each person would see the other person screen and couldn’t figure out their computer was acting that way. Especially when one of them rebooted their machine and nothing happened on the screen in front of them while his neighbour’s computer kept rebooting for no apparent reason.

This fellow geographer also had the biggest music and movie collection of anyone I knew. He did some much overtime, he never said ‘no’. I joked that his house was his secondary address and that his main address was his cubical with the amount of overtime he did and little vacation he took. This is other sign for me that there is more to life than work. David will greatly be missed by friend and family.

+ + + Repose en paix David + + +

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L’Express HSQ, Laurentian Autoroute with a peek of Mont Gabriel’s summit


Village of St-Sauveur-des-Monts as seen from the Mont Avila-Mont St-Sauveur boundary.

After leaving the funeral, I decided to try to clear my head and go skiing. I’ve done this before, skiing to focus on more positive things or forget.

I exited the church at 3pm and was parked next to the Laurentian Ski Museum, but the door was close. I was in St-Sauveur-des-Monts, a place which is surrounding with skiing. Six ski areas in which to choose from, five of them belonging to MSSI which I had access with my super Edelweiss MSSI pass.

Mont St-Sauveur : many runs and although my MSS has been recently limited to May skiing, they were some runs in hills and runs in the valley that I haven’t skied in decades.

Morin Heights : A nice area, but I skied here with Morgane back in 2007. I wished to focus on places that I hadn’t skied in a long time.

Mont Olympia : I was never a big fan of Olympia back in the 1980s, however I wouldn’t mind a return visit. Unfortunately the MSSI ski area didn’t offer night skiing midweek and closed at 4pm.

Mont Gabriel : I skied Gabriel more often than many of the different areas, but I haven’t returned since we trained there when I was on the UdeM ski team back in 1991. Other than training, this was the ski area we always visited with our annual High school ski day over 30 years ago. Unfortunately, like Olympia, MSSI didn’t offer midweek night skiing. The corporate advantage of having many ski areas under one roof.

Mont Habitant : not part of MSSI, so they need to stay open to compete with the MSSI empire. I haven’t been in decades, but I wasn’t going to stay long enough to warrant buying a lift ticket.

Mont Avila : I did a few turns at AKAMP ski camp last July, but I didn’t get a good return visit. A dozen of ski trails: that would be enough for the amount of the time I had. I just want to spend some time on snow to clear my head.

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High ratio of boarders


Trail heading towards L’Express and Laurentians Autoroute heading to Montreal

Mont Avila is the first of a series of Laurentians ski areas when you head North from Montreal. If I exclude the few nights of training I did when I raced in university in 1992 or the cross-boundary dual ticket with St-Sauveur, this was my first real ski visit of Mont Avila since 1984. You can ski from Mont Avila to Mont St-Sauveur which is accessible on a dual-ticket (or my pass), but I wanted to stay on the Avila side as it was limited and wanted to get a feel of the place. There are similarities between Avila and Edelweiss; vertical drop, more than one lift on a relatively restrained size ski area, one being a HSQ, trail that was converted into a snowpark (which needs a parkpass to access) and the easiest trails on the left plus there is tubing not to far off.

I eat a lunch/supper in the cafeteria and headed out shortly before sunset. It was felt colder than -12c. After my first run on Express under the Quad, I skied left to right on trail map starting with mellower JackRabbit and La Laurentides trails. The next two trails were steeper or that is the way I remembered them. They are now exclusively park of a mega snowpark, so like Yodeler at Edelweiss, the Grande Ourse and Piedmont trails contain a number of park features. To access this terrain you need a parkpass and a helmet, I only had one of those.


Secteur Piedmont snowpark as seen from La Laurentide trail. The mound and park features are also used in the Summer ski AKAMP


Bottom of La Laurentide trail and Secteur Piedmont snowpark

The fact that MSSI has a number of ski areas in the valley, MSSI has focused on building a kick ass park for a hill which so little trails. For the last few seasons, they covered the snow from the big air at the bottom of Piedmont trail once the season was over and kept it for the AKAMP job camp at the end of June. Mont Avila definitely caters to the park jibbers.

The place was deserted as the sun was going down. The next trails were straight down the face of Avila. At the centre of Mont Avila is located the wide Express trails (East and West). I remember the steep pitch at the top of skier’s left which 30 years later is totally avoidable.


The steepest part of the pitch is the same as when I was a kid (Bourasque trail), but it is now totally avoidable of only part of a most larger Express trail


View from the top of Express. Top of Mont Olympia can be seen in the distance

Conditions were hard with recycled frozen granular with a hard icy surface and not as pleasant as Edelweiss. It helped to have good edges. To the right Pronto was groomed hard and the Hill 67 had sketchy conditions. I don’t think I went into the glades as I had my good slalom skis, but I did take a ride of the mini park features on Secteur Express.

After 11 runs in 90 minutes, I had enough. Even though skiing generally helps get my mind off unpleasant things, the skiing didn’t help much tonight. It was nice to revisit a place a few decades later, but my mind wasn’t into it.


Chalet and my skis that were stolen in March 😦


Mont Avila as seen from the Chalet


Mont Avila-Mont St-Sauveur Trail Map

I wrote this a few months ago, but never got around to complete it. David would have turned 43 this week, so I thought it would appropriate to post it now.

Sampling of song in my head : Des fois mais pas toujours from Urbain Desbois
http://bop.fm/s/urbain-desbois/des-fois-mais-pas-toujours

20140211_av

MadPat’s Gallery:
Mont Avila : 10 février 2014

Monday Mad Addict’s Attic:
Mont Avila, circa 1980
The trail named have changed (Piedmont on the old map isn’t the same).

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Mont Aviwhat??? Avila. Là! Over there, not far from my last turns in May and current popular Waterpark at Mont St-Sauveur.

When everybody thought that Eastern “commercial (not free)” skiing was done with the closing of Killington on May 26 and that no Eastern ski areas snowpatches had survived the month of June; Voilà Avila!!!

Over the 96 months ski-streak (I’m including my Summer 2005 non-snow experience on sand and grass), I’ve had a variety of experiences, but none in the same category as this last one.

Plan A : Avila wasn’t it for June or July. There were many left over snow options in early June. I was initially hoping to get to repeat June turns at Killington for a first time since 1997, but the weather killed that plan and Killington hopes to spin into June.

Plan B : I heard about Beartooth Basin on the Wyoming/Montana border. The only Summer-only (just a few weeks really) ski area that I know of in North America that look to be all about the vibe. It was only 3100km from Ottawa and the worst part of it, it wasn’t out of the question due to the novelty of it. Although I loved my Timberline-Bachelor-Crystal-Rainier experience in 2012 or Mammoth in 2006 and 2010 experiences and wouldn’t mind returning in similar conditions: Ullr wasn’t as kind in these areas in 2013.

Plan C : Consistency of Tuckerman Ravine is always an option. Numerous June and July visits in 2007, 08, 09 and 11 proved it then Health concerns raised its ugly head again. The Plan was set and made: leaving Ottawa and picking up MTLRipper in Montreal then join Riverc0il and Snowmonster for a day at Tuck then I was struck down. All of a sudden I was at home battling side-effects on newly prescribed medication. I wasn’t necessarily worried about Tuckerman Ravine’s snow conditions, but more about my physical or mental state to tackle the long drive and hike in my current state.

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So I was down to Plan D: Desperation.

The Akamp Camp had been a jibbing snowcamp that has been held on the lower slope of Mont Avila. This year was the 6th edition for the camp which was initially held in early July, but was moved to late June a couple of years ago.

The snow had been stockpiled in a huge mound in late April (when Avila closed) and covered with hay. I drove by Avila on one of my MayDay at MSS and witnessed the huge haystack.

Organized by Axis Boutique, this year’s camp was being extended to 5-days. They had 2x times more snow, some GoPro loaners and some real pros. They were hoping to get a lift tied in, but it wasn’t worth it financially. There had a few features, salt and a groomer smooth stuff up every morning.

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30 juin 2013
No snow at Mont St-Sauveur, only waterslides.

30 juin 2013
Snow

Sunday June 30:

I hadn’t skied Avila since my university team days back in 1992 and wandered over from MSS in 1995 when Caroline and I skied MSS-Avila on the joint pass. Let’s just say it was a long time ago. Avila and Mont St-Sauveur share the ownership and ridge. This week the Mont St-Sauveur’s park was in wet liquid form while Avila had the frozen type going.

The camp was supposed to end around 5pm on Sunday. I showed up at 4pm to explore the site. I walked up along the park and taking pictures of the boarders and skiers going their stuff. After talking to a few people, I was informed that the camp was being extended an extra day on Monday, which was also happens to be Canada Day, due to the amount of snow left. They were charging a one day only price of $100/day for this weekend (I have no issue with that – a lot of work is involved to make this possible) versus $500 for the 5 days. The camp attracted about 50-60 people every day.

I explained my dilemma and asked if they had any objections if I made a few turns? One requirement was that the Patrol, the girl who had a “Parc Aquatique MSS First Aid” t-shirt packing her car and about to leave had to be present. Once she was gone, they wouldn’t let anyone ski. 😦 I rushed to see her and she asked if it was okay with her. “Sure, go ahead. I can wait”. At that moment, I ran to the car and grabbed my gear. Hiking fast to the top in my saddles and switching fast into my ski boots.

Standing at the top of the snow, they were 3 main options : the big jump, the small jump next to the pipe and handrail down the staircase. I skied between the jump and the staircase. The slope mellowed out towards the boxes and rails and was pretty dirty. Dirt and mud from the torrential rain on Friday probably didn’t help. I quickly hiked up after my first run and did it one more time. I was sucking wind at the top and needed water which was in the car. I grabbed my stuff and sandals and ski down calling it a day and a month. Only 15 minutes, but I didn’t want to push my good fortune with the organizers and patrol plus I was starving and needed a drink. I probably just missed Bri7 from Zoneski which I meet at MSS in May : he was going after his own summer turns a short time after I left.

30 juin 2013

30 juin 2013

30 juin 2013

30 juin 2013

30 juin 2013

20130630_avila
June 30 Log

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Monday July 1:

After spending time with friends and dealing with mandatory stuff in Montreal, I was back in the Mont St-Sauveur Valley for 3pm. The camp was charging $60 for this unplanned extra day. There were a few more people riding as I wasn’t as late as the previous day. The weather was a gray 21c again today with a smog alert over a large part of the province due to the forest fires in the Northern Quebec.

Localized on the end of the slight pitch on the Piedmont trail, the vertical was 28-30 meters, not much less than Tuckerman in July and nowhere as steep. However the length of the “snowfield” was longer.

I got a green light from Max to make a some turns again today and park next to the few cars at the small plateau at the bottom of the park. I thanked him and made a financially contribution to the camp. I had water this time and less hurried. I enjoyed looking at the jibbers due their stuff. People generally did the jumps at the top and didn’t bother getting to the dirty snow and rails at the bottom unless they were heading for a break at the bottom. I did one last run after the last boarder left and skied off the snow all the way to the car 30 feet away. Max gave me a nice cold Molson Canadian!!! It was Canada Day after all.

1 juillet 2013
July View from the Avila parking lot

1 juillet 2013
Parking spot

1 juillet 2013

1 juillet 2013
Last run

1 juillet 2013
Happy Canada Day and July Turns Beer

20130701_avila
July 1 Log

2 runs in less than 15 minutes (including walk from the parking lot and putting my ski boots at the top) for a total combine vertical of 52 meters in June and 6 runs in under 1 hour with a whopping 159 meters in July. Some may ask if this was the craziest/pathetic month of my ski streak? Not sure? I’ve skied only one run on the ski trail has flat as a road in the pouring rain in Pucon, Chile in August 2008. I flew to ski WROD in Colorado in October back in 2007. Climbing to Tuckerman Ravine in the rain in July 2007. What do you call that crazy drive through Hurricane Sandy to ski powder in West Virginia last October? One thing for sure, it was the easiest accessible summer snow I’ve ever skied.

Now I need to book an appointment to get my brain examined. QUICK where are my meds???


Psycho Therapy – The Ramones
Posted by LiebermannRamone3

MadPat’s Gallery:
Mont Avila QC – 30 juin / 1 juillet 2013

Monday Mad Addict’s Attic:
Mont Avila, circa 1980
The trail named have changed (Piedmont on the old map isn’t the same). The park was next to chairlift A.

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