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Chic Choc Mountains = Best Kept Secret of East Coast Skiing

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

     I'm new to this whole skiing forum thing and while scrolling through and reading all of the great information and stories I felt compelled to share some information and stories myself about one of my most recent ski trips. I am an east coast skier, a Nova Scotian east coast skier at that, where the tallest peak in the province is called White Hill (yes a "HILL") at a measly 1700ish feet. So in the search of some real powder and some real skiing I decided to take the back country route. I decided on the Chic Chocs in Quebec because of its relative proximity and because the many different articles, videos, reviews, and talk that I had seen and heard about the area. We decided on the Mont Blanc region of the Chic Choc mountains near Matane, Quebec.


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     Being relatively new to true back country skiing we decided to hire a guide for safety (avalanches do happen in the Chic-Chocs) and to use his mountain man knowledge in order to get us the best snow and best slopes. When we were booking with the guide he asked us some thing to the effect of "are you guys any good at skiing?". We have all skied for most of our lives, I myself was on skis at the age of 2 at Kingpine riding the "Magic Carpet". We had mostly done resort skiing but had also skied places like Tuckerman's Ravine on New Hampshire. So in order to give him a picture of our abilities we threw out the Tuckerman's Ravine card... He had never heard of it. So we further explained that we were regular resort skiers and could ski pretty well any pitch that the area could offer us (minus the 40 foot cliffs etc). We were booked for 2 nights in the back country Yurt and 2 days of back country skiing. We knew fairly little about what we were in for, the information we were given was: Where and when to meet Francois (Our Guide), There would be a "Short Snowmobile Ride" to the yurt, that the Yurt was "Fully Equiped", and that we would be in for two days of skiing. So we set off from Halifax, Nova Scotia. We made a pit stop on our way to the Chocs (as I will call them henceforth) at Amqui to ski Val D'Irene, one of our groups favorite ski hills; they make no snow and still manage to come up with an awsome base and its never failed us to produce some serious powder (at least to my standards at the time, but that would all soon change). After our pit stop we continued to our meeting place in Saint-Jean-de-Cherbourg, at a old church that had been converted to a community center/restaurant we had a massive bowl of soup, huge plate of spaghetti, and beer all of 8 bones. After we ate we signed the waivers, the standard if you get hurt doing something stupid or otherwise then don't sue me; after that we headed out on the snow mobile.


      One two people sat on the snow mobile and the other two sat on the trailer for the snow mobile with the gear. It was a 25km, hour and a half, pitch black, bloody frigid, drive through the back woods of Quebec; We tipped the snow mobile twice and only had to get out and push three times, and somehow managed to not lose any of our gear. Aside from thinking my fingers were going to fall off the snow mobile ride was a success and we arrived at the yurt alive.


     When we arrived all limbs intact we found our yurt which was quite warm once the wood stove was fired up. Francois showed us the outhouse which he called the "Hot-House" which we at first thought he was talking about a sauna which we immediately got very excited for only to be brought to the outhouse to our disappointment (it wasn't that hot). We had a quick game of Rummy and then crawled into our -18C sleeping bags dreaming of powder.


Me in the Yurt


     The next day we woke up, surprisingly late and ate a breakfast of beaver tails and oatmeal then we slapped the skins on and started trekking. We had some unreal tree runs and I found myself in the deepest most fluffy white stuff I'd ever seen. We found some nice little natural jumps where we caught a little air and Luke tried a Heli and bit it hard. His ski managed to switch from ski mode to walk mode mid-air which threw off his trajectory and brought him back to earth on his face. After he laughed that off and we all got enough pictures of his face full of snow we stared back up the hill. I had skied what I had considered powder before but this was a whole new level, and I had some trouble figuring out how to make those smooth powder turns you see in all the big ski films. Ian who had done some heli back country skiing and had a lot of powder experience gave me the simpleist, yet greatest powder skiing tip; He said "You just need to find the bounce", shortly after I found it! and was making turns that felt as smooth as butter. We did mostly tree skiing on Mount Crabby, and I gained a new definition of powder.


      At the end of the day I was as happy as a giddy little child. That night we got into some rum in the form of hot toddys and changed up the game to Asshole, during our game where I found myself "President of the Assholes" we learned of a run that Francois called "Orgazmitron". Intreaged, we asked why it was called that, and Francois said "We'll cause its exactly like an orgasm... but longer!" It was located on the south-west slope of Mont-Blanc and we decided that if the weather was good that was a definite required destination for the next day.


     The next day we decided to hit some more open runs with fewer trees to get in the way of our buttery smooth powder turns. we trekked up to do a quick run on Mont Crabby's north-east slope which turned out to be one of our best runs, had some of the best pow and an awsome pitch (about 30-35 degrees). We continued after that quick run to Mont Blanc's south-west slope, we made it to the top of the south ridge and found ourselves in a winter wonderland, we felt like we were on the moon. We stopped for a lunch of trail mix, banana peanut-butter nuttela wraps, and snickers bars. Then we hit the now legendary "ORGAZMITRON!!!" It was everything I had expected and more. I was addicted to the feeling of those smooth powder turns where the snow rushes by your knees and you bounce up and down like your on a trampoline. It was exactly like how Francois described it, and it was a perfect final run to such an amazing ski trip.


     At the end of day 2, we pack up our bags for the snowmobile ride home (sadly), we drove the snowmobile off into the sunset with moose all along the trail the entire way home with no incidents.


     Sunset snowmobiloe ride


In conclusion in the Chocs I found what I now realize is real, serious powder; in fact this picture was taken by Fancois who was about up to his chest in snow. We all had an amazing back country skiing experience with Vertigo-Adventures (Highly recommended by the way vertigo-aventures.com) and I can't wait to go back again. I think the Chocs are one bright light for back country skiing in the Canadian east (maybe the only light??). I made a very amateurish video of the trip for my own entertainment, if you want to see it here it is:



post #2 of 11

Thanks for the trip report.  Very interesting as I have never been to East Canada.


(sorry your post sat in the spam filter for so long.  I was out and wasn't aware of it)

post #3 of 11



Thanks for the report.  Didn't realize this was available on the east coast.  Looks like you guys had a blast.


post #4 of 11

Nice TR. My brother has been there and had a similar (if self guided) experience. Shhhhhh!

post #5 of 11

Great report, love that last picture! It's interesting to see a TR from one of the lesser discussed ranges back east. I read about the availability of these hut trips in a magazine or website a year or so ago, so it was cool to get a first-hand report back. Legit pow!

post #6 of 11

Great TR


post #7 of 11

Thanks for the trip report.  I have been skiing near Quebec the past few seasons and want to head east for the Chic Chocs.  Anyone speak English that far east?

post #8 of 11

Great stuff, thanks!

post #9 of 11
I met a couple down here who had great things to say as well. Its on the list

post #10 of 11

WDAN, I see that a dude in one of the pics in the Youtube is rocking a WVU beanie. Is he from WV? Go to WVU? Or just a fan???  I'm curious.....



BTW, I loved the report and video. Looks like an awesome trip!!

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by crank View Post

Thanks for the trip report.  I have been skiing near Quebec the past few seasons and want to head east for the Chic Chocs.  Anyone speak English that far east?

In the bigger towns its not so bad and most people are bilingual or someone will usually offer to translate for you. But in the more rural areas youll find fewer and fewer english speakers, but you always find a way to get your message across, whether its by chirades or hand signals. Most guides speak english I think. The language barrier actually worked out for me once, after we got off the mountain we went to McDonalds to get our intake of grease and i paid for one big mac and got two free ones??

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