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!
I had based this trip on the long rage forecast about a week ago where it was supposed to be a mostly sunny day and mild, so I planned to have the day off. As the week progressed I watched the forecast deteriorate day by day to a mild day of mostly cloudy and rain. Well at least that part the forecasters got correct! I had gotten in touch with a friend of mine earlier in the week to tell him I was coming down, so this venture was not a solo one. Friday morning wake up, and true to the forecaster's word it was lightly sprinkling. Holding to my commitment to my buddy, I packed up the truck and headed off in the rain. I don't normally ski in the rain but if I didn't go, then the visit to Sutton would have been a write off, and I would have to wait until next season. Note to self: Plan the trip to Sutton earlier in the season next time!
I arrived at the mountain just before 9 to cloudy skies with a very light sprinkle and the temperature of around 4 degrees. I got all geared up and went to the ticket desk inside to pick up my pass, and ran into a school friend of mine who has been at the mountain for a number of years, Melanie. Always a pleasure to see her, and to catch up. After a quick chat I got the pass and headed for chair 2 the Main Quad for the first run down the Sutton Ik. Everyone I got the chance to chat with was pleasant, welcoming, and in a great mood considering the weather today. 57 trails were open along with 4 lifts spinning. The conditions were of a spring granular over a firm base. Coverage was still pretty decent with the amount snow received this season. There was still quite a bit of snow still left in the woods. The glades were still covered well enough to ski them with care. In some areas spring is slowly starting to show through with a few icy patches here and there. Still plenty of space to avoid them.
On the way down I got a message from my buddy to meet him over at the bottom of Chair 3. I made my way over, and he was there with some skis he brought with him that we were going to test out. It ended up being a group of 6 of us so basically from there the day turned into a testing day in the rain. We had a variety of different skis to try, and today was a good day to see how they would perform in the spring snow.
Testing the Blizzard SRC:
We spent the rest of the day on the Mohawk and the ABC under Chair 3 testing and trading thoughts about the skis we were on. The Mohawk had been groomed and there was some soft snow left untouched on the sides of the trail. A great trail to see what these skis could do. I had the Blizzard SRC, Volkl Race Tiger SC, Salomon Shot SL, & the Blizzard Wrangler 9, just to name a few of the half dozen skis or so I tried out. With the summit chalet open, there was a cat making the trip up with a load of wood for the fire place there, so we had a fresh groomer track every run we did to ski on.
The ABC under Chair 3:
We finished the day at around 1:30, pretty much soaked through. Even though I didn't get to other sections of the mountain this time, I had a great day trying out different skis, and getting my spring skiing legs back.
Like I had mentioned earlier, I need to better plan my visits here for next season to get the full effect of what this great mountain can offer. Until next season Mont Sutton, I'll be back!
A couple of experimental photos in B&W.