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QC - Stoneham, Le Massif and MSA?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I'm planning a late Feb trip with family to stay in Quebec City, with 5 days of skiing. We'll be driving from the city out to the local ski mountains. Based solely on vertical and acreage stats, as well as the novelty factor for Le Massif, my instinct is to simply ignore Stoneham and split the 5 days between Le Massif and Mont St. Anne.

Questions -- if anyone's skied these three, what am I missing? What are the reasons, if any, to spend a day (or more) at Stoneham?

In general, are there conditions that favor one mountain over the other two? I think I read somewhere that Stoneham offers more shelter in cold and windy conditions. True?

What about scheduling issues -- are there days to avoid or to hit at any of these three? If it makes any difference, I think we'll be skiing weekdays only, the week of 2/20 -- AFTER the carnival.

Anything else to consider?

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 26
Did the trip 3 years ago during the March school break and skied all three. Our experience was that although Stoneham was the smallest of the three, it had by far the best snow and was the least crowded. I should note that coming from Ontario anything over 1000 feet of vertical is cause for a chubby.
Both Massif and Mont Sainte-Anne were very icy and I lacked the skis and/or the technique to master the conditions. As a result I found myself skiing defensively and unable to really let the skis go as I was at Stoneham.
Stayed in Quebec City at the Victoria Hotel(?) which was within the old part of the city. Very picturesque with everything within easy walking distance. As an added bonus it was very easy to get on and off the freeways going to and from the hills. Talking to the hotel staff they said that most of the locals preferred Stoneham to the other two. I suspect in large part because there were less tourists there. Additionally it has much better snowboard facilities and a lots of pretty girls.
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks. What do you think factored into the snow quality at Stoneham? Was it just lower traffic, better snowmaking, or wind scouring at Le Massif or MSA? Something else entirely? How long had it been since fresh snow fell?

Another question on these 3 -- obviously there's more vertical at Le Massif or MSA than at Stoneham, but how would you compare the "sustained vertical" at each. I ski a lot in NY and southern New England, where a lot of hills hover around the 1000' range. (Sounds like Ontario.) But some of the hills have only 300 or 400' at the top steep pitch, and then a long flat runout. Others are steep top to bottom. How do the 3 QC areas compare on that? (I'm betting nothing beats La Charlevoix at Le Massif, but wonder about the others.)
post #4 of 26
They are not like that. The lift layout at MSA has minimal run-out. It's very good. On the other hand, Le Massif has truly sustained pitches that will last over a 1000 meters before run-out. Here, the run-out lets you rest a bit.
post #5 of 26
Stoneham's worth a day, or an evening. Nice local hill flava.

While you're in the area, head a little further north past Le Massif and try Mont Grands Fonds. Very fun place and rarely anyone there.
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
Merci James. How much longer in drive time to Mont Grand Fonds from QC? I see from their web site it's 150 km (93 miles) but don't know road quality and traffic would impact drive time estimate. Some of the family's just staying in QC each day (non-skiing spouse) so I'd like to keep down the drive time.

Gotta love a web site that warns "Walking peoples are not allowed on the chairlift."
post #7 of 26
Mont Grand Fonds is another 45 miles past Le Massif (at least an hour past Le Massif). The road is winding, hilly and not always well maintained. If fog socks it in, you can't see a darn thing and have to slow down to about 30 mph so you don't go off the road. Personally, while I think MGF is a neat little hill, that's what it is, a little local hill. Worth a visit if you are staying north of Le Massif, but not worth the extra drive from Quebec.

Part of what made E-Cram's experience at Stoneham better than at the other resorts is they are more of a family resort and are known for grooming and snowmaking, plus as you said, it is well protected from the wind.

I am assuming you bought the interchangeable lift ticket that's good at all the resorts. If I were you, I'd just wait to see how the weather is before deciding where to go. If it's a powder day, go to Le Massif. If it's a blue sky day, go to either Le Massif or Mont Sainte Anne. If it's windy, go to Stoneham.

You don't mention what kind of terrain you like. If you are an advanced skier, Stoneham is only worth one day. Or, you might consider going there for night skiing.

post #8 of 26
depending on road conditions and travelling speed it is anywhere from 1/2 hour to 1 hour. i was there last sunday and it was amazing..parking lot is at the top of the mountain which switches things up a little...the view is amazing, plenty of diversity with respect to trails. when i went they had received 30cm's of snow and of course conditions were perfect. if you like bumped up trails hit the 42 and artimon in the morning before they get played out....the restaurant serves caribou and rabbit among other local favourites...:
post #9 of 26
Just so you know, Uniontire is talking about Le Massif, not Mont Grand Fonds.

post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thatsagirl / UT - thanks. The family includes one cautious (smart?) kid and a two faster and more aggressive skiers who are comfortable on steeps, bumps, ungroomed, etc.

It sounds like any of the 3 would be good in appropriate conditions, though MSA and Le Massif will deliver the biggest range. Since we have only 5 days probably we'll just stick with these 3, heading for Stoneham if it's nasty out.

We'll get the tri-ticket so we can try to match the hill to the conditions and family members on any given day. The website specifies one area per day -- is that strictly enforced?
post #11 of 26
Originally Posted by ts01
We'll get the tri-ticket so we can try to match the hill to the conditions and family members on any given day. The website specifies one area per day -- is that strictly enforced?
Yes, it's strictly enforced.

MSA and Le Massif definitely offer the most variety and should keep everyone happy. If you have a powder day at Le Massif, hopefully your cautious kid will be adventurous enough to leave the groomers and try some of the ungroomed intermediate terrain. It's perfect for those first powder turns.

post #12 of 26

Mont Grand Fonds

Sorry, I forgot that you're staying in Quebec City When I was there, I stayed at a beautiful inn just north of Baie Saint Paul, so the 40-minute drive to Grand Fonds wasn't much of a problem... btw, if it's clear, the scenery along the river is stunning.

Here's a gaper article with pix about my weekend there last year:
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks again James. I think your postings on this area years ago are what led to the current plans.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Another question which you folks might know -- drive time and suggested routes from NYC area. At one point I compared the mileage on mapquest going I-87 up to Montreal and then over, versus going up I-91 through VT, and it seemed close enough. Any thoughts on the faster drive?
post #15 of 26
Straight up 87 through Montreal is quicker if you're not planning on skiing somewhere along 91 on the way.

Watch your speed going through the Adirondacks though.
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by jamesdeluxe
Watch your speed going through the Adirondacks though.
I try to keep it at 75, definitely under 80 b/c my snow tires are not rated for high speed. Watch my speed even more than that? Tough to do on I-87, people FLY on that road ....
post #17 of 26
In my experience MSA knocks the ass off both le massif and stoneham. MSA has some really challenging double blacks on the top left front side.. And then there are slower areas to get away from the people on the backside. Stoneham to me seemed to have less windshear and softer snow. Quebec is an awesome city to go out in.. especially if you don't speak french.. makes it seem like you're in the alps or something...

1. MSA
2. Stoneham
3. Massif
post #18 of 26
My girlfriend and I will be in the area the following week.

Something to keep in mind is that MSA will be hosting the world jr. alpine championships from Feb 28-Mar 5. Might contribute to bigger crowds, although it's hard to know whether it'll affect you the week of the 20th.

We've skiied MSA a few times (long time ago, don't remember much), but we'll probably spend more time at le Massif because of the greater proportion of expert terrain and (hopefully smaller crowds).
post #19 of 26
MSA is definitely the most impressive of the three resorts. It's the largest and has the most variety of terrain--in my opinion, everyone in your group will find plenty of terrain to keep them happy for multiple days. The easier terrain is fun enough for you to enjoy skiing on the lower-level trails with your kid. It also has some pretty gnarly stuff. It is a true "destination resort" for the East Coast.

I did not think Stoneham or Le Massif were as memorable when it comes to terrain. Le Massif has awesome views, food is out of this world, and it was a fun mountain. But I didn't ski anything that I thought was super challenging. So, I am questioning gorilla's assumption that he's going to want to spend most of his time there. What Le Massif calls advanced and expert doesn't even touch what MSA calls advanced and expert. A comparison comes to mind: Grand Targhee is pretty much an intermediate mountain with a nice selection of advanced and expert, but nothing to really challenge you or scare the pants off of you. But on a powder day, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Powder days there are sublime. The rest of the time, I'd rather be at Jackson Hole. Le Massif is like Targhee: on a powder day, awesome! Any other day, rather ho-hum to me. I'd rather be at MSA.

I don't think the world jr ski championships are going to make MSA too crowded. That level of competition doesn't draw the crowds. And any crowd is watching the competition, not skiing the mountain.

As for Stoneham, as I said, worth a day. Their expert and advanced terrain is not challenging at all and there is a very tiny amount. However, it's fun for cruising and kids love it.

post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quick trip report, but first a big thanks for all the good advice above.

This was a terrific family ski trip and I cannot recommend it highly enough for east coasters -- in the time it takes to fly west, and just a few hours drive beyond the usual suspects in upstate NY / NE, you can hit great skiing, great variety, great cultural experience. We stayed in Quebec City and skied two days at Le Massif and two days at Mt Ste Anne. Missed Stoneham entirely because there was no day it made sense to go - one day off from skiing my non-skiing spouse took the kids to the Ice Hotel (http://www.icehotel-canada.com/en/index.en.php) and to do QC tourist and shopping stuff. Kids loved the Ice Hotel, I'm sorry I missed it. Fantastic restaurants in QC and the easiest drive you can imagine from the old city to Mt Ste Anne (30 minutes) and Le Massif (60 min but well worth it. And having visited smaller towns in English speaking Canada I was surprised (and quite pleased) with the cultural contrast. My high school french got a real workout.

Skiing was great. We got lucky on both conditoins and crowds. One windy day in the low teens at MSA but not much ice at all. Rest of the time it seemed to drop a few inches fresh overnight or as we were skiing and there was one day with about 3" powder at Le Massif. Thatsagirl and Srozing each made valid points on the two hills. I suppose MSA offers a larger quantity of challenging runs but at Le Massif the runs near Le Charlevoix (and I suppose Le Charlevoix itself, but it was closed) were plenty steep and the natural beauty and interesting layout of the mountain more than made up for the generally more moderate terrain. Moderate but fun, not too much flat runout overall, and they let a good number of trails bump up to keep things interesting. MSA on the other hand had a lot of good old fashioned steep gut wrenching drops and fast cruisers as well as long steep bump runs (too much for me) and excellent tree skiing. The steeps reminded me of Whiteface. Kids and I loved both places but for different reasons -- Le Massif was the big unspoiled gem (think Snowbasin, Plattekill, Whiteface (views not terrain), Gore)); MSA was more of a traditional developed place with the infrastructure of Stratton / Okemo / Mt Snow but none of the crowds and much more challenging terrain. No lift lines to speak of at either location, and good fast lifts everywhere.

The food at Le Massif was as good as everyone says. Nuff said. My next overpriced cold cheeseburger is going to hurt.

BTW I read somewhere they're planning a train link from Quebec City to Le Massif. That would be a tremendous option, if and when it hapens.

James was right about the driive -- we drove up I-87 and back on I-91. It was a bit longer down 91, but not by a hwole lot.

That's about it. Now back to earth.
post #21 of 26
Excellent. I guess you missed the Quebec midwinter school break (began yesterday).
post #22 of 26
I did the MSA, Le Massif run earlier this year, and I fully agree that with the time, money, and hassle it takes to go west, hitting these two resorts is an excellent 2nd option. A clear step above the other eastern resorts I've been to... Whiteface, Mont Tremblant, Jay Peak.

In fact, one of the guys on the trip is on contract here in Ontario, and is originally from Alberta. He's hit everything in the Canadian Rockies, but thinks that these two hills are about "90%" as fun as Alberta / BC.
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 
Also, for what it's worth - I can't imagine a better trip if you've got non-skiers in the group. For non-skiers Quebec City had the charm of Edinburgh or Venice (OK maybe that's a bit of a stretch ...). A first-rate experience in itself for the non-skiers, with no exposure to crowded overpriced ski resorts, and then it's real easy to regroup late afternoon for a nice evening together. And because the city is a walking city (and looks like it had good bus lines if needed), no problem stranding the non-skier without a car.
post #24 of 26
Le Massif happens to be my favourite Eastern hill. It was MSA, but I've grown to really enjoy the wide sustained pitches and the views can't be beat.

Maybe that's age talking.
post #25 of 26

You've all got me excited

We leave friday 17th for MSA (wife, me, two kids 3 & 4 and aunt to watch kids in afternnon so we can ski alone) Kids are really excited to ski someplace new and so am I. We are staying in the condo's near the Gondola which should make it easy to drop the kids off at lunch and keep skiing. Is there much near the Gondola that a non skier (aunt) can walk to? Just wondering. Any ideas for good dinners near MSA? Can't wait!
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by spikepch
We leave friday 17th for MSA (wife, me, two kids 3 & 4 and aunt to watch kids in afternnon so we can ski alone) Kids are really excited to ski someplace new and so am I. We are staying in the condo's near the Gondola which should make it easy to drop the kids off at lunch and keep skiing. Is there much near the Gondola that a non skier (aunt) can walk to? Just wondering. Any ideas for good dinners near MSA? Can't wait!
You SHOULD be excited, you're in for some great skiing.

Unfortunately I'm not going to be a great source for info you need but I did notice a few things that might help with the non-skiing aunt and 3-4 y/o kids.

1 - At MSA there was a horse-drawn carriage that seemed to be for ferrying skiers along the flats at the bottom of the hill. Should be tons of fun for the junior set.

2 - At MSA there might be a little ice rink set up at the base area. If the aunt and kids are skaters, worth calling ahead to confirm or bringing skates just to have along, I bet there's other options even if nothing right on the hill. We saw lots of people carrying skates around Quebec City. (But if non-skiing aunt can skate, she should try skiing!)

3 - Icehotel if it's still open: http://www.icehotel-canada.com/en/index.en.php.

4 - Send aunt and kids into Quebec City -- great tobaggon (?) runs and other adventures.

5 - Get yourselves up to Le Massif!

6 - No clues on restaurants near MSA - we stayed and ate in Quebec City. Gret restaurants but a pretty long haul from MSA just for dinner.
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