What a difference a couple of weeks make. The week before, warm and rainy, enough to make everything in town brown again, icy and sloppy in the mountains, then a dump the weekend after of some 40+ cm of snow to cover up the mess left behind. Has Mother Nature been off her meds again? Well being that it was a sunny day, travels took me all the way to Mont Sutton. This mountain is well known for being the place to go after a dump of snow for the best glade and powder skiing around. The weather today was much better than the last time I had been there at the end of last March. The drive was smooth, and I arrived at the mountain at 9:00 with a very fresh -20 degrees. Parking was decent, and no long hike to the chalet. There was a bit of a breeze that made it a touch colder, but being dressed for it, that didn't matter........just the constant fog up of my glasses under my ski goggles. Nothing some Kleenex couldn't fix. I was more concerned about my phone freezing up, and having to thaw it out, however she didn't fail today.
Today 50/60 trails were open with 5/9 chairlifts spinning. It wasn't crowded at the ticket desk, and ticket purchase was nice and easy. The mountain ops team was making snow on the Youppe-Youppe which is usually the more direct route to Chair 4, the fixed grip Quad Chair. At the desk it was advised that it was best to take the Mohawk down to the entrance of the ABC and head up Chair 3, a double, and cut over to Chair 4 to avoid the crew. My first warm up run was up the Main Quad, Chair 2 and down the Sutton Ik.
The conditions on the Sutton Ik were great. Groomed packed powder over a firm base with no ice or scratching anywhere. Then back up the Quad and over to Chair 4 via the suggested route to Chair 3. The Mohawk was also great with groomed packed powder, and made for a smooth ride down to the ABC where I cut over a bit early and found my self in unfamiliar territory. Ungroomed packed snow with great coverage, and nothing surprising poking through. Then into the Barricole Glade Trail, a nice and easy section and then back to the bottom of the ABC to hitch a ride up Chair 3.
The Middle Section of the ABC under Chair 3, and the Barricole Glade:
Once at the top of Chair 3 it was a quick left on to some ungroomed tracked out powder for the last small stretch to chair 4. The Dynamic had some snow blown on it from the snow guns and whales pretty much everywhere but no one skiing down it. It looked pretty wild and too much for me. If I were a few years younger........maybe, but not today. At the top of Chair 4 is the Chalet 840m that was open, and being that it was chilly, a warm up break was in order. Inside is a nice open fire place with hood where you can warm up or dry out your gloves, scarves or what have you on the wires strung around the hood. One thing I noticed about Chalet 840m is the view out the back windows. The view is the back side of Mont Sutton. A view you don't always see very often.
Once I was warmed up it was down the Allegheny, to the Alouette, the Sousbois II, and back on to the Sutton Ik. With Mont Sutton if you don't make a lot of runs, you sure have a serious variety combinations to choose from to make those runs. You will feel that you have made more than just a few with all the different routes to take.
The Allegheny - Alouette - Sous Bois II Combo:
Not all glades were open, and the ones that were, had good coverage, but you still needed to pay attention as there were some thin spots to be had. Another warm up, and drink at the base chalet, and then the last rides were up Chair 2 for a couple of runs on the Sutton Ik and the full length of the Mohawk. At noon it was time to pack it in and make the trek home in time to run a few errands, pick up the kids from school. The parking lots were getting more full by this time but absolutely no line ups at any of the lifts. As always I had a great morning at Sutton. It never disappoints. The big difference this year for me is that my buddy JF is not here, and I missed seeing him. He had left the mountain last year, and has moved on. Had he been there today, I am pretty sure he would have put me through my paces, and had my legs in agony at the end. Not sure if I would have been able to do a JF training sprint today. It probably would have been a day of "hey buddy you need to try these!" Nothing wrong with a few demos underfoot!
With the day off work today, and taking advantage of that, Mont Sutton was the choice of destination. I left Sherbrooke at a little after 7 under partly cloudy skies. When I arrived at Sutton for 8:30, it was cloudy and about 2 degrees above zero.
The conditions were a bit more tricky that I was anticipating, as the mild temperatures from yesterday and the freeze from last night made for some hard surfaces. 57/60 trails were announced as open with 2 lifts, Chair 2 the main Quad and Chair 4, the fixed grip Quad were spinning today. The wait in line for either lift was non-existent. The day began on the Sutton iK and the Mohawk to warm up. The Sutton iK was groomed granular on a hard base. The Mohawk, was not groomed but was well covered with some loose granular with the temps being mild at the lower altitude.
The Sutton iK:
After a few runs I moved over to Chair 4 and the Dynamique via the Youppi Youppi trail. Coverage here was decent but some places were starting to show some wear. It was icy in places and you had to be aware of that and choose your lines accoringly to avoid them. The Youppi Youppi and Dynamique was not groomed as well and made for some fast skiing. A couple of rides up Chair 4 and then it was Alleghany's for the route back to Chair 2.
The Youppi Youppi:
The glades were open and skiable but they were starting to get thin. Pretty much all the snow we received from the last dump we got has pretty much either melted and has been skied off. The last run down was on the Alouette which is a natural snow trail and was thin and bare patches were visible.
Glade to the right on the way up Chair 2:
With the conditions as they were, pretty good but tougher that I am used to, my legs were screaming and I "tapped out" by noon. Overall a decent day but I missed the boat after the big dump to ski Sutton the way you should ski it! Knee deep in white gold.
Here are a few more scenes of day: