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Another May weekend, what else to do, but enjoy the cool snow and warm breeze while skiing in a t-shirt?

After last weekend double destination at the last two ski resorts open in the East, it was time to focus on the more local area for me.

Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca
Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca

Saturday May 14:

Definitely less driving this weekend: Mont St-Sauveur is under 50 miles from Montréal and 100 miles from Ottawa. MSS was having an end-of-the-year party with a band, the popular exterior bar, BBQ, $1 hot-dogs, inflatable jumping structures for the kids and it was also the last weekend to take advantage of the Waterpark season pass special of $59 for the season-pass. This would explain why there were 25 people in line in front of me at the Customer Service desk.


Mogulskier hitting the bumps on the final West Hill 70 pitch


Planetskier carving outside the bumps lines


Mogulskier on Hill 70

It was also “May repeat” from the previous weekend, everyone was out for what was initially the last weekend (which was changed the previous day) of skiing. A repeat in the warm t-shirt weather, the Ottawa crew was here, the two Dan, Danmelon and MTL_Ripper, Mogulskier, a few people from Zoneski and a few bloggers like Tom from Estski and Jari the Planetskier. The previous Friday I meet Jari at Killington, this time he made the trip from Boston (not Finland) to ski at MSS and Québec which he had never skied. His other option for weekend turns was Iceland, but MSS wasn’t as an expensive option.


Nordique was official closed, but that didn’t really stop anyone


The entrance of Nordique wouldn’t last the day, but coverage was 100% on everything about the finally pitch which was roped off.

I don’t recall the last time I saw so much coverage in mid-May at MSS? Snow was pushed all the way to the lodge’s patio. The official trail count was one, Hill 70 West, but part of 70 East was covered and skied. The main difference in one week was the official closing of the Nordique trail, however it didn’t stop anyone from skiing it. The coverage was thin and became non-existent at the entrance of the trail plus the final pitch was roped off with undermined snow at bottom and ended on pavement with two parked groomers. A few bump lines were seeded, a box and rail setup on Hill 70: Fun for all. The surface was pretty firm due to the salting of the Hill 70, Nordique was soft while the finally roped pitch was nice and firm, you really had to work your skis.

Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca
MadPat and Mogulskier at the top of a closed Nordique trail
Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca


Clouds moving in above Nordique


Planetskier on Nordique


Bottom pitch on Nordique which skied really nicely, thank you very much.

Besides Jari from Finland, MSS had a 3-time gold medalist at Olympic and World Championships in Moguls. There were also a few plates from New England and New York. So MSS didn’t just drag out the nuts; although a few of them continued to ski when the rain came. The rain stopped just in time for last chair.


Mini-bar crowded, patio empty during pouring rain

MSS is very steep … in history. Dartmouth College raced here for the 1st or 2nd intercollegiate race against McGill in the 1930s. After the day of skiing, I showed the Laurentian Ski Museum in town where we got totally drenched … again.

Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca
The crew enjoying Après-ski beer
Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca


Hardcore bumpers hiking for turns after 5pm


St-Sauveur church in the village

Sunday May 15:

The forecast for Sunday was may rain or may snow. Snow flakes failing from the sky, it is somewhat ironic considering that it was a sub par winter. Killington received 6% of the yearly snowfall on this “event”. Part of the Ottawa crew were considering a May repeat on Sunday, but as the weather was less than favourable. But like the weather was less favorable for Sunny Spring skiing, MSS didn’t open due to the risk of rain…again. As for Jari, we returned to ski Killington on this wintery day.

Saturday May 21:

Three-day ski weekend on both side of the border, Killington was going Friday-Sunday as always this May, while St-Sauveur were opening an extra day on Victoria Day Monday (Saturday-Monday). My plan was skiing Sunday and Monday and may again at Killington the following Monday May 30.


Waterpark is going to be open soon, but we’re still skiing


Like skiing in Summer

Sunday May 22:

Mogulskier was already skiing when I showed up, his kids and wife were at the MSS’s F.U.N park. Another week of temperature hovering around the 30c did a dent on the snowpack, especially the closed Nordique which was official closed the weekend before with excellent coverage on 3/4 of the trail. The trail was reduced a series on disconnected patches, however the snow was Hill 70 tight. But the coverage was showing a side of weakness in the middle of the Hill 70 pitch; as the day passed, water puddles and bare spots in the moguls field started growing. I don’t recall seeing this on Hill 70 in May in previous year. It’s a sign that the end is near. There was definitely not the number of skiers of the previous weekends, maybe they were spread out over last 3 opening days? Part of the Ottawa crew were there and other regular. It was getting really hot at noon with made it really difficult. As Mogulskier left for Dad duties in the park, the clouds started to move in and we even got a small drizzle for 15 minutes to cool us off. The pitch of Hill 70 was ugly, tomorrow is definitely the last day of the season for St-Sauveur.


There is still a few lines for Mogulskier.


Middle of Hill 70 pitch was getting uglier as the weekend passed. This section of the trail was bare on the last day.


Still enough snow for June on the middle of 70?


Wayne on the final pitch


The last hour crew

Monday May 23: May repeat, Maybe not, May June?

Alex sent me an email Sunday night and asked me if I was going back, was I going to repeat or not? After some consideration, I decided to spend Holiday Monday at home with the family. That being said, I hope that K makes it to June. In fact I hope MSS and K … and a bunch of others make it as long as possible. The more the merrier. I may go to Killington if they are open on Memorial day, meanwhile for MSS, today was definitely the last day of ski operation, even if the snowdepth at some places on Hill 70 will may survive into June. June turns at MSS, I may go for that.


The end


Bye Bye

MadPat’s Galleries:
Mont St-Sauveur QC – 14 mai 2016
Mont St-Sauveur QC – 22 mai 2016

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Two left!!! One in Québec and the other in Vermont.

The same two that started the (and my) 2015-16 season over 6 months ago. My last visit at Killington was in early December, prior to that were my last two days at Mont St-Sauveur in October and November.


Killington like a beacon on the horizon

There was also at long last the meeting of two geography based ski bloggers, Ski Mad World and PlanetSkier…or should we say Ski Mad Planet and World Mad Skier?

Jari from Finland was in Eastern North America for a business meeting and for anyone that has followed his blog, it was pretty clear that he would have been eager to get some turns no matter how far or complicated it was.  As mentioned on the Dual May Days for Mothers’ Day – Eastern Closing Thread 2016 – Week 6 post, Killington and Mont St-Sauveur were the only two ski areas in the East still spinning lifts, actually no one was spinning midweek.


Getting closer: Skyelark, Superstar and Cascades (closed) under Killington Peak


Two open trails: Thin Skyelark and Fat Superstar


Bottom of Superstar


Wall-to-wall bumps


Superstar Glacier


Deep Superstar Headwall

Friday morning: Killington

The only ski area open today was Killington and that’s where I was going. Two runs on the menu for this warm +18c temperature and a sunny blue bird sky. A tale of two runs, Skyelark and Superstar. One was thin and levelled to a thin layer and the other was fat and bumpy. They groomed the middle of Superstar and everything to the sides was bumped up. I had time to test out the two runs before Jari arrived.


Jari on Skyelark


MadPat at one of the Skyelark chokes
Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca


Jari taking an alternative route to another choke on the trail


Skyelark


The final pitch on Skyelark at the end of the day…now it’s really Thin

Skyelark was on its last miles with a thin base which would become none existing as the day went on. What was left of the snow was a firm thin layer and bare spots are a few chokes on the coverage. If you didn’t want to risk damaging your skis, it might be better to stay on Superstar. Some walking was required if you wanted to access the trail from the top, but most people reached the trail at the cutoff below the Superstar headwall. As the day went on, the trail sketchy areas before even more troublesome for nice ski bases.


Superstar

Superstar was everything that Skyelark wasn’t; it was deep, bumpy and corny. Based on the height of snow, they still had a few weekend of skiing planned. You never know with Mother Nature, but the cold Spring helped preserved the stockpiling of snow. Incredible, but this season is probably one of the worst on snow accumulation in this millenium. 75″ inches of snowfall (they would an extra 5% of their annual snowfall on May 15) and the base depth on Superstar was double that number on most of the trail. The mount above the headwall was huge and the middle of the trail snow level was close to lift height. There was some good coverage left on the Canyon area, Cascades looked particularly inviting.


Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca


Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca

It was top to bottom coverage on Superstar and as the day went by, there were the groomed centre made way to top to bottom, wall to wall moguls. Once at the bottom, there was side of snow and parking tailgating, but we continued riding the Superstar Express Quad which zoomed us up 1199′ (365m) vertical. Jari and I were hurting, broken rids ridding a horse to go skiing a few months ago in Morocco and myself the broken ankle in early season that didn’t like the moguls. Or maybe it was just me, I recall that skiing the bumps was easier in the 1990s. 🙂 I might be skiing like 20 years, but the tailgating in the parking lot and on the side of the lift was serious.


Lower Superstar


Canadian and Finnish skibloggers in Vermont
Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca


Driving towards next destination

Saturday: Mont St-Sauveur


Snow on the two open run: Hill 70, Nordique as well as other runs


Open terrain

St-Sauveur was opening for the public on Saturday. For the last few late season, they’ve have hosted “Summer” race camps midweek and early morning weekend on Hill 70 and Nordique. Like Killington, MSS had two runs going, however coverage were groomed and equally deep on both runs. The only terrain that was bumped was on the East Hill 70 pitch which was an added bonus on the terrain. The MSS crew build a few bump lines plus the usual box and rail on the flatter part of 70. As I skied, I ran into the Ottawa crew having fun in the bumps as well as the regardless late season suspects. The usual early and late season closing lift was running on approximately 607′ (185m) vertical and everyone was having a great day skiing in t-shirt or shorts.


Wall to wall Hill 70, East and West


Deep base on Nordique


Nordique


Nordique’s bottom pitch

A good part of Hill 70 and Nordique had be salted for the race camps, so most of the base was firm and consistent. Sharp edges were definitely a plus, but there was also softer corn snow accumulated outside the race area. The finally pitch of Nordique was as fun as always to ski even if it was firm. The +21c didn’t really soften it up.

The base depth on Hill 70 and Nordique were a few meters deep. Mont St-Sauveur was getting ready for to open their summer park schedule to open on May 21, ski season was suppose to end on May 15, but with the important depth of snow left, MSS decided to give skiers an extra weekend closing on May 23. Interesting enough, MSS received more snow than Killington which isn’t common: 103″ (262cm) versus 75″(190cm) (81″ currently, 206cm). Even it was also a very warm winter north of the border, the few degrees difference was often the difference between snow and rain. Not to be outdone and new this season, Mont St-Sauveur converted a shipping container into a bar next to the snow. Ingenious!!! Snow + Sun + Warm + May + Beer = What Spring Skiing is about.


Bottom pitch of West and East Hill 70


East Hill 70 bump field


Ottawa Crew

Sunday: Sun only in name.

Friday and Saturday were the real Sundays, this day was more a wet day. Mont St-Sauveur didn’t bother to open due to the weather and skiers at Killington in the cold and wet conditions. As common this time of the season, MSS didn’t bother spinning when few would bother buying lift tickets in the wet & cold May day. Some flurries even fell over the Great White North. Meanwhile south of the border, Killington spun for a few diehards “wet” skiers. Snow isn’t going to melt much in the first few days this week, as freezing (or close to freezing temps) are forecasted overnight.

However it was a beautiful first half of the weekend, hopefully it wasn’t the last Spring skiing of the season. Nothing can be taken for granted this time of the season: despite deep snow at the last two ski resorts still running lifts in the East, the end is near. Amazing May skiing was had by all you did, like the sun and the warm weather, showed up on the first part of the weekend.

As it stands now, MSS & Killington last days so far is respectively May 7 & 8. This is pretty respectable on a terrible snow year.


Growing lake


Snow + Sun + Bar


Heading home

MadPat’s Galleries:
Killington VT, May 6, 2016
Mont St-Sauveur QC – 7 mai 2016

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Sun
Hot
Sunglasses
Beer & BBQ
A band playing
Shorts, Bikinis, underwear and topless skiing
Corn
…and some bumps

This is what Spring skiing is about. Mother Nature gave us warm weather, sunshine and corn weekend. While some people were enjoying their Summer activities in the cities which includes patio drinking, cycling and try to forget about snow, for others it was just another really to go skiing and soak in the rays.


Skyline Parking


View from Skyline Deck with band, BBQ and beer on the left side next to chair

Here is a report of CTV News in Ottawa : Temperatures soar in the capital
http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/temperatures-soar-in-the-capital-1.2862873#_gus&_gucid=&_gup=Facebook&_gsc=yJMiHId

My teenaged daughter questioned my sanity. “It’s going to be 21c today, why would you want to be skiing? My reply was, “Exactly, it going to 21c, why not go skiing?” It’s on days like these that you see who the real skiers are.

Slow Sunday morning, it was 11:30, it was SUN and +17c. Barely twenty minutes later, I arrived at a packed Skyline parking. Camp Fortune was the closest skiing from home, the next closest options were Tremblant, St-Sauveur and Whiteface between 2 and 3 hours away.

The Valley was closed, Skyline was where it was happening, amongst the best concentration of Spring skiing on a 590’ vertical around, similar to the old lost Gray Rocks used to offer.

Today was a day where all the hardcore weren’t going to miss. If the locals weren’t at Tremblant, they were here. As the afternoon went on, I started to meet more and more people I knew.

The mountain had been groomed, but it was definitely corning up when I started skiing. Skiing from from left to right.


Chute, Middle Canadian and Bud Clark from Lower Canadian


Lower Canadian


Camille on the edge on Chute


Aaron’s Cornapolooza

Sparks : the longest and easier trail offered. It was a great place to get started. Corn was already deep.

Bud Clark : close to wall-to-wall coverage, but a few thin spot poking out. Deep corn lower down.

Canadian : Steeper than Bud, a fun steep pitch and some slightly firm snow on the side. Bumps were popping out as the afternoon progressed. Middle Canadian had a few large patches, but it was roped off. It still made for some beautiful nice turns on some of the firmer undisturbed corn snow.

Chute : The steep drop which can be terrifying for some racing kids when it’s solid ice at -21c. Today was +21c and keep you on the edge. The more on the edge, there was a nice small drop to jump off from.

Lower Canadian : the wide part concluding the 3 runs above. There was a few rocks poking through and you had to negotiate a puddle that became biggest has the snow melted.


Heggtveit

Heggtveit : The long steep bumped run that was used for the Canadian Moguls Championships for a few weeks ago. It started off fairly smooth after this was groomed, but like the other steep runs, it bumped up in a few places. The edge of the built up snow was particular a lot of fun. The run needed probably another few hours to become a real mogul field par excellence. Still tons of snow left on Heggtveit, probably a few weeks left for those that want to earn their turns.


Swan Dive with Chute, Canadian, Bud Clark and Sparks in the distance

Swan Dive : Officially closed, but that didn’t stop some brave skiers to try to hope from snowpatch to snowpatch on this steep natural run. It might be the last day of the season.

The tiny Skyline lodge was empty expect for those wanting to buy the $20 lift tickets and using the washroom. People taking a break were sitting outside on the bench and picnic tables setup at the bottom. People smiling in the lift line. The band was playing that you could hear from the top of the lift, burgers were flipping and the beer was flowing. People stayed outside until long after the lift stopped turning, the last beer was served and the last burger was flipped. This is what Spring skiing is really all about.

There was a glimmer of hope for a repeat weekend, but Camp Fortune decided to call it a season after the rain on Monday. Now it’s earned your turns season locally or head to closer open ski hill 2 hours away at Mont St-Sauveur which will continue spinning on weekends until May 14.


Ottawa hardcore (Carmen, Rog, Ben, Aaron) from Japan, Dubai, Europe, South America to Camp Fortune


End of season

MadPat’s Gallery:
Camp Fortune QC – April 17, 2016

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Saturday May 10
Month 104
Day 78

On this weekend only three ski areas remained open in the East and MSS was again the last in Quebec and amongst the last three open in the East. Jay and MSS had announced that Sunday May 11 was their last day of the season; a season started on October 30 for Mont St-Sauveur. All three ski areas were now on limited operations with Killington open Friday to Sunday while Jay and MSS were only open for the weekend. Actually that isn’t entirely true, MSS had been spinning midweek everyday from 7am to 11am rain and shine for ski race camp on the “MSSI Glacier”. That is the main reason why public skiing in May at MSS only started at 11am the last two weekends.


Part of Mont St-Sauveur with an open Hill 70 and Nordique. There is still a good amount of snow on Hill 71 on the right.

Contrary to the previous weekends, the weather was clear and sunny. I couldn’t ski last weekend, but the plan for this beautiful weekend was to hit MSS and Jay for their last hurrah. The drive from Ottawa to Montreal via MSS is only an extra 30 minutes. The hill was charging $20, but my Edelweiss pass is valid when Edelweiss isn’t open. Mont St-Sauveur’s traditional both late/early season runs were still open. Hill 70 West and the steeper Nordique trail serviced by l’Étoile quad.

I started skiing at 1:30pm and squeezed in 26 runs until last chair alternately between the steeper Nordique and the more popular Hill 70. The Nordique bottom pitch managed to get the legs warmed up before a shape turn and skip over a puddle. The surface wasn’t your typical May surface, especially when the temperature was closer to the July average. It was so hot that even if I was skiing in a short sleeve t-shirt; I was sweating. I believe the temperature hit 28c in the sun and made it warmer with the snow reflection. It was like a day at the beach with some skiing in shorts, bikinis tops or even shirtless. Not a good day to forget to bring water. 😦


Closer look at the two open runs : West Hill 70 and Nordique

Most of the hill had been salted to harden the snow for the race camps, so it wasn’t really the peel away corn or only loose granular. Impressive conditions for the racers…not so impressive for those looking for soft edging, loose snow and bumps.

The coverage was still great on both runs and the snow depth was generally close to 5-8′ on most of Hill 70 and a bit less on both of Nordique’s pitches. The middle flat on Nordique was thinner and won’t necessarily survive to another weekend, but Hill 70 shouldn’t have an issue making it for a while, unfortunately the word was out: “Sunday May 11 is our last day”. Some people were hoping that MSS would change their minds as there haven’t been many good Spring weekends for skiing. Maybe the steady turnout, a good forecast and leftover snow is going to motivate to open next weekend? I recognized a few people I had seen before including Frankontour with his young son.

20140510_mss

Monday May 19
Day 80
Last day of liftserved in the East.


Lunch on the patio for the Final day


Leftover snow on Nordique’s pitch

I returned for the “Last weekend of the 2013-14 ski season again”. The news came Friday morning that there was too much and the weather was perfect again for an extra weekend; which happened to be a Victoria Day Holiday weekend in Canada. I was happy as I couldn’t get away from Ottawa on this weekend, but I was free to go skiing on Monday. I had hope to make a return trip to Killington this season if they went further into May, but it wasn’t meant to be and I ended up, somewhat surprisingly, returning to MSS for one more time to close out Eastern liftserved ski season.


Middle Nordique


Iop of Nordique


Father and daughter

Today I managed to get my teen Morgane to come along for the drive and the skiing. I had promise her a late wake-up call and a warm bluebird t-shirt day. It wasn’t as hot as the previous Saturday, but it was still over 20c. As expected, the skiing was down to Hill 70 West. The snow on the Nordique trail was all gone, minus a few patches on both pitches. The temperatures across the East from Vermont to Quebec had been warm and above seasonal averages. So much so, that Killington announced that this was also their last weekend. Their last day of the season was May 18; one day earlier than MSS. Was this a surprise? Not really as MSS had added an extra weekend last season also closing on the Sunday May 19 and didn’t open for the Holiday Monday due to the uncertain forecast.

We stopped get some food at the grocery store in Morin Heights as my daughter wanted to eat as it was noon already; she was hungry and wanted to eat. No rush as a few hours on Hill 70 would definitely be enough. The snow was still a few feet depth in some places, the surface was corn and the final pitch was bumping up nicely (although bumps on Superstar are better), but was somewhat thin on skiers’ left.

Similar to last week, some familiar faces showed for another “last weekend”. Wake was hitting the rare bumps on the final pitch without counting on Maximini that seems to follow me this May. There was even Powdermonsieur and Bellezébuttes from Zoneski that showed up with telemark gear that the couple rented that morning in Laval, just North off the Island of Montreal. The people at the store looked at him strange; “late May and returning a telemark rental the same day? WTF?” This was only their second time on teleskis, as he mentioned, they needed some challenge; “it is after all only MSS”.


Morgane at the top of the final pitch


The middle flats

We started at 2pm and skied just short of 20 runs until last chair at 4:55pm. As I loaded on the chair, I said to lift operator…”see you next weekend”. He was hoping so, but not all the MSS employees shared his enthusiasm for skiing…they wanted to move to other things like getting ready for the opening of the waterpark on June 9. On the drive back, we stopped at Lowe’s Dairy for an ice cream and frozen yogourt in Lachute; a business connected to Hockey All-Star and six-time winner of the Stanley Cup Kevin Lowe’s family. There is also a ski connection with Lowe as he is married to Canadian Skiing Hall of Fame, Olympics and World Champion medalist Karen Percy.


Final pitch

20140519_mss

MadPat’s Gallery:
Mont St-Sauveur QC – 10 & 19 mai 2014

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