By David Schissler
(February 2015) While staying in Quebec City for Winter Carnival I skied its three most popular mountains: Stoneham, Le Massif and Mont Sainte-Anne. I was pleased to add two of these mountains to my “been there, skied that” list. Stoneham, and a place I’d been hoping to ski for a long time, Le Massif.
Stoneham is a 20 minute scenic ride from Quebec City. Given the tight schedule I was on I opted for night skiing. I must say I hadn’t skied at night in many years but was pleased to see the lighting at Stoneham was excellent, as was the snow. With lights on nearly 10 miles of terrain on 19 trails, a half-pipe, and 3 terrain parks, there’s plenty to ski and ride for an evening. Boarders take note, Stoneham is a frequent stop on the FIS World Cup Snowboard Tour.
The mountain is really three peaks across a ridgeline. I began my evening warming up on La Laurentienne (pictured right), one of the longest on the mountain. It’s a green circle that skis way more like a blue square. It was such fun and the snow was so good I and my friends decided to ski it a couple of times. Admittedly, with 1,132 of vertical, it’s not as large as its two neighbors but with 333 acres of skiable terrain and its proximity to Quebec City, Stoneham’s the perfect destination for a half-day or evening. For more info: www.ski-stoneham.com or [email protected]
One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Quebec was to ski Le Massif. At a little over an hour from the city it’s the furthest out of the resorts. The place is well named. It’s a monster. Top to bottom runs provide 2,526 vertical feet. That’s the largest east of the Rockies and more than enough to burn your legs. Even the way you approach the mountain is different. The parking lot is on the top. From there you ski down to the gondola or a couple of high-speed quads. I can personally recommend anything on skier’s left from the summit. Trails like La Petite-Riviere, La Prairie and La Batture are long, long blue cruisers groomed from side to side. These trails allow you to load the gondola at mid station or at its base. About a quarter of the way down from the summit on skier’s right try one of my favorite aspects of Le Massif. Groomed black diamonds! Picture long, steep and buffed. From here you have easy access to the Grande Pointe high-speed quad. You can yo-yo all day.
Another distinctive aspect of skiing Le Massif is the proximity of Baie St. Paul, the widest point of the St. Lawrence. In spite of the mountain’s size it’s the St. Lawrence that dominates the landscape. It can actually create different snow zones on the mountain. Moisture from the river can seep along the lower mountain changing the surface from dry snow on top, down to slightly wetter snow at the base. www.lemassif.com
I had been to a World Cup race at Mont Sainte-Anne some years ago and was glad to be returning at last. This is another massive mountain with 2,050 feet of vertical ending on the banks of the St. Lawrence (well, almost). The mountain, which is only 30 minutes or so from Quebec City, has a front and back side but no matter where you go you’ll find high-speed lifts, great cruising terrain and side-to-side groomed powder. Nearly every turn was like carving butter.
On the front or south side try the Express du Sud high-speed quad. Most of the terrain here is blue. Skier’s left takes you back to the quad. Head right and you’re on your way to La Tourmente, Le Court Vallon and the gondola. From the summit, Le Gross Vallon is a must ski, winding, steady pitched trail that runs top to bottom for the full 2,050 of vertical. Expert skiers may want to ski the upper part of Le Gross Vallon to La Traverse. This will take you to the Panorama Express high-speed quad. The lift was new last season so I was glad to ride it. Nearly everything up here is black or double black diamond, and they mean it, but one or two of the trails are groomed for some really fast cruising.
I was told the majority of visitors never even make it to the north side of the mountain. Don’t make that mistake. Some of the best skiing to be had is there under and around the Express du Nord high-speed quad. Everything on skier’s right of the lift is exquisite blue terrain. My favorite run on the mountain may be La Paradeuse (pictured left). It’s the trail under the lift and it follows the fall line its entire length with a pitch that doesn’t relent.