Well my 2020-21 ski season has begun....finally! The weather recently in the Townships has not been the best, and upcoming weather reports aren't any better. So off to Mont Orford this morning for a few early season laps. I arrived at the mountain at 8:15, and it was already getting mild with a temperature of +2 degrees, and skies were partly cloudy to start. With the new Covid protocols in place, we are required to dress, and boot up at the car. Access to the chalet is limited for 15 minute breaks. Masks to be worn in the lift line, chalet, and on the lifts. Outside on the terrace there were a few spots where there are fireplaces set up with a couple of places to sit and relax. What was pretty cool was that they had was a shipping container converted into a serving area for drinks and other items you could purchase without having to enter the chalet. The terrace was set up nicely to have a break. Now onto the skiing.
There were 5 trails available with The Giroux North Quad, The Hybride, and the Rapido Triple, along with the Double Magic Carpet in operation. The first runs of the morning were on the Giroux North Quad and the Familiale trail, a nice and easy route down. On the Quad you were loading two per chair, one person at either end, of four with the same household. The conditions were really nice with groomed man made snow along with a nice blanket of snow we received the night before. The coverage here was really nice. It was noticeable as it was getting milder that the snow was starting to transform into some nice snowball making snow. Nothing slushy or granular like you'd find normally during spring skiing. It was actually quite forgiving, and made for some nice turns.
The Bottom of the Familiale:
Now it was time to head over to the Hybride for a few laps. The line ups weren't that long in wait time. It looked long because of the 2 meter distancing, that everyone was respecting. It was all marked out for spacing so everyone knew where to stand. I spent maybe 2-5 minutes at most waiting. The lines were moving smoothly with the line attendants directing traffic efficiently. At the Hybride they were loading 3 per chair, one person on each end and one in the middle. The gondola cars were loaded with 2 people properly spaced. The first lap down was the top of the Trois Ruisseaux and on to the Maxi. There were more skiers up here, and plenty of terrain to be well spaced out. The coverage on both trails were pretty good as well. By this time it was really mild, and the snow was starting to bump up a bit. Here the snow was getting softer, and you could tell you were getting into early spring type skiing. The Rapido Triple was spinning and no wait time. They were loading it one skier per chair, or more if you were in the same household.
The Bottom of the Maxi With the Rapido Loading Area:
By 10:30 it was time for a break so I headed to the terrace to have a seat. After a about 20 minutes, I headed to the Giroux North Quad for one more run, and to see what I had left in the legs for the first day. By this time the line up for the Quad was longer but still moving smoothly. At a little after 11:00 it was time to call it as the legs were starting to get sore.
The Giroux Quad at Last Run:
This has been the latest start to the season for me in quite some time. Not the very latest though. The overall experience today with all the new Covid protocols set in place was quite pleasant today. The mountain ops team did a great job of keeping the trails in great shape and covered considering what the weather has been like so far this season. The lift attendants, and lift line crews did a great job managing the flow of traffic. It will be a different ski season for sure, and if everyone does their part, it will keep it going.
A Few More Scenes of the Day:
Day 2 of the season brought me to Mont Orford today. I had heard of the major construction project on the chalet, snowmaking system, and the new domed double magic carpet for the beginner's area that was installed, and has some finishing touches to go before it is up an running. I needed a sneak peek at what was done. I arrived at the mountain just after 8:30 with sunny skies and a crisp -11 degrees at the base. Once out of the car I noticed there was a bit of a breeze which made it colder than what it really was. With the rain and the warm weather this past week, and a wet weekend, I knew today was going to be a day where the snow was going to be hard and fast. Good thing I had a tune up on the boards a couple of weeks ago! My buddy Christian contacted me to say that he would be there, and we met up to ski the morning.
The Giroux North Quad was open serving the Magnum, Familliale, Magog, and the Jean-Daviginon trails today. At the base of the mountain it was breezy, but as you rode further up the lift, there was a steady wind. Being dressed for the occasion made it more bearable. The conditions were hard and fast with the rain and warm temperatures from the weekend. Machine groomed granular with some windswept areas that were a bit hard, but with a tuned pair of skis, you were fine. You definitely needed sharp edges today. The first warm up runs were on the Familliale a nice easy trail. There was complete coverage on all 4 trails, however with the wind, some sections got a bit scrapey, but nothing that I couldn't handle. It actually made for a good test of skills. Further down near the bottom stretch, on the skiers left, there was some skied out loose powder from the night before, so you had quite a variety of conditions.
The Upper/Middle Section of the Familliale:
The Lower Section of the Familliale where the tracked out powder was:
Then it was on to the Intermediate trails, the Magog and the Jean Davignon. Here the conditions were of groomed and windswept granular. Sharp edges were an asset.
The Jean Davignon:
It was then time for a warm up in the chalet. After about a 20 minute break it was back out for a couple of more runs. There was no line up, and you could pretty much ski down the hill and right onto the lift. By noon we were done. I stayed away from the Magnum today as I didn't want to push myself being that it's still early season. Today was a well needed outing with my legs being put to the test. Even though my legs were getting sore, it actually felt pretty good.
The chalet is coming along nicely, as is the new domed double Magic Carpet. On the Familliale, the snowmaking line was changed over from one side to the other as the prevailing winds are now behind the line so that more snow can be blown over the trail, and not blown back into the woods should there be any wind. Also new hydrants were installed along with the new line. The edges of the trails were cleaned up from trees leaning over, and some lines of sight at a few of the junctions were improved as well. Some other sections had new snowmaking hydrants put in to replace some older ones. This is only the beginning of some of the improvements on the mountain. On my next visit later in the season, we will take a look at some of the other work done on the off season.
Here are a few more scenes from the day:
A shot of the Hybride with the Moon:
The Work on the Chalet Extension:
A shot of the new domed double Magic Carpet lift: