Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada
Mont-Sainte-Anne is Québec City’s playground.
Drive east along the St. Lawrence from Québec City, and you’ll soon reach Mont-Sainte-Anne. With 2,050 feet of vertical, it’s impressive, big-mountain skiing with a lift system to match. Trails drop from summit to base at a near-constant pitch, with only a short runout to the lift. Trail ratings aren’t inflated here, and experts won’t get bored; eight of the mountain’s trails are true double diamonds, some with challenging bumps and/or glades, and 10 are F.I.S.-approved race trails. But this isn’t to say beginners and intermediates will be intimidated. There are plenty of wide cruising runs and gentle beginner trails spread across the mountain’s three faces. All that and an excellent terrain park make it a good choice for all ability levels. In general, the slopes increase in difficulty as you move from east to west.
The South Side faces the St. Lawrence River, where all base facilities are located. It also bakes under the sun, so the snow is often heavier here. The resort recently cut a large gladed area, The Black Forest, on the South Side between La Crete and the Bellevue curve. The Black Forest consists of three glades: the double-diamond Triumph and the single-black Munster and Schnell. The North Side, or the backside, has a high-speed quad and a small lodge. The West Side is dedicated to backcountry skiing and riding on natural snow.
Mont-Sainte-Anne’s riverside location delivers plenty of snow, an average of 160 inches a year. When the wind whips up the river, though, it’s a bone-chilling and damp cold, so go prepared.
This resort lets you get a good taste of winter Québecois-style. Don’t miss the sugarhouse on the La Pichard trail, where you can taste such treats as maple sugar on snow. You can try paragliding, ice skating, snowshoeing or dogsledding, all served with a French accent. Mont-Sainte-Anne’s cross-country center is the largest in Canada and second largest in North America.