A mere 130 kilometres north of Montréal lies Mont Tremblant, "Eastern North America's Premier Ski Resort" and a destination Johnny had been drooling over ever since landing in gorgeously snow-covered Canada. The Twixmas-New Year period is Mont Tremblant's most popular time, and it had been tricky and expensive to book a couple of nights over the 2008-09 join, so we had very high expectations.
The drive up from Montréal was both ridiculously easy and gorgeous, with stunning wood cabins sitting in picture-perfect glades of snow-frosted pine and fir trees:
Driver Johnny had expected some twisting mountain roads but they never eventuated - we were now so far north that no altitude is necessary to guarantee good snow. We drove past several other resorts where slopes were so close to the road that the skiers actually passed under the highway in a tunnel!
After only a couple of gentle hours we had arrived in a wonderland. The entire resort village has been constructed to look like the perfect European alpine township, and the effect is very convincing. Yes it's fake, and most of the buildings were all built by the same company at exactly the same time (about 5 years ago), but it sure is perdy:
A major advantage of staying at a resort where the one company owns almost everything, is the level of connectedness everything has. When we checked in, we were handed our lift tickets, and later that evening, a lovely guy from the ski rental shop called in to fit us for our gear. The next morning, our equipment was magically waiting for us in our locker in the changing rooms. Slick.
Of course all of it would come to nothing if the skiing was rubbish, and Johnny was nervous that the slopes would be choked with most of Eastern North America. The reality was, this puny 850m pimple-on-the-base-of-an-Alp had so many trails that for long periods we felt like the only people on the mountain. We never waited more than 30 seconds for a lift, and the snow was deep. And crisp. And eeeeven. Check it out for yourself:
John apologises to the snowboard police for having arms flailing everywhere - this was a very icy black diamond! (Bec would like it noted that she completed said run several times with some aplomb, albeit at a slightly lower speed).
We love Mont Tremblant and would recommend it to any snow-fans out there, with one proviso. It is cold. Colder than we had ever experienced before. -25° Celsius-plus-significant-windchill cold. Some examples:
- It took 5 minutes to regain any feeling in John's hand after filming the video on the left barehanded.
- Bec was wearing two pairs of gloves and still had painfully cold hands at the summit.
- Johnny had a sliver of earlobe peeking out from under his hat for a couple of hours. Frostnip caused it to swell up to twice its normal size and it hurt for the next week.
What a perfect place to ski in the new year.