First trip out of the US since covid! Isaac and I made it up to Montréal during vacation week to visit Benoît and he took us skiing. For all that New Hampshire has been having a terrible snow year, the Laurentides had tons. Isaac’s front country ski poles weren’t suitable at all. They kept plunging down to the handles. Even my powder baskets submerged once. There was at least 1.5m of snow.
Earlier that week, Montréal had an ice storm. It barely left a hint of crust in the mountains. Then, yesterday everywhere got another few inches. Unfortunately for us, Benoît’s new Tesla had sunk ruts into the ice. Despite having snow tires, it could only spin its tires. I had been hoping to get a ride in a Tesla, so that was a disappointment. We shuffled all our gear over to my all-wheel drive Subaru with studded snow tires and headed out.
Montagne Gris is one mountain on the Inter-Centre trail. It connects a series of backcountry cabins. The trails are designated for either snowshoe or ski trails. Having dedicated ski trails is a real luxury. Snowshoes make a meandering trench that never quite works for skis. Given our late start, we did a short out and back to refuge Le Nordet. Another day we will do the full loop up and over Montagne Gris. We saw AT skiers in the parking lot. They were headed straight up the hill, never mind the trail, to find glades on the side of the mountain. We took the gradual zigzagging trail.
The one problem with our late start is we didn’t get enough food into Isaac before heading up the hill. That turned the trip up into a slog with a lot of snack stops. Benoît had slightly stickier wax than Isaac or I, so he could climb better. I could have put stickier wax on our skis, but I knew I would be in trouble on the downhill if I over waxed Isaac’s skis. So Benoît waited patiently for us at the top of rises.
We had a very peasant lunch in the cabin. There was a hint of warmth left from an earlier fire in the stove. Regardless we were out of the weather. Given the level of civilization, I felt a little over prepared with my full backcountry pack. The cabin had bunks for overnight, reservations required. The front section had two tables open to day visitors. And it had a mouse that Isaac liked watching. Except for the mouse, it looked like a great place to stay.
As we were packing to go, Benoît counseled Isaac to remember to dress warmer for the descent. Isaac ignored him and headed out the door wearing the same layers as he had up the hill. Benoît shook his head as if to say “kids these days.”
“Isaac is actually right,” I said, “we will use as much energy going down as we did coming up.”
“How is that possible?”
“You’ll see,” I finished, grinning. And then we scrambled to catch up with Isaac who was already out the door, skis on.
On the way back down, Isaac and I were the fast ones. Some of that might have been the faster wax. But more, I suspect, was because Isaac got a running start to every drop and skated around every turn. And thus also the explanation for why we didn’t need more jackets for the descent.
Next year I would like to come back and do the whole loop over Montagne Gris, or a multi-day through ski.