Mont Édouard Feels Like Home

The longest undefended border in the world exemplifies the special nature of the relationship between the United States of America and Canada. Since I moved north of that line, I find myself constantly tallying up the ways that the countries mirror and differ from each other.

Living in Quebec provides yet another layer of circumstance as the natives decide that their province is a nation-state when it suits them, or when Canadians from other provinces point fingers about how Quebec is just… different.

Still, few things bring people of all nations together like skiing. On New Years Day I found myself enjoying 8 inches of new snow at Mont Édouard with a few hundred pickup driving revelers and hardy folk.

Hardy is synonymous with Quebecers, but even they have their limits, when the wind that comes barreling down the Saguenay River. The mountain is a infamous for wind-holds, but on New Years Day — if you could handle it — the lift ran all day.

Mont Édouard isn’t like other ski hills I have visited. It has a 1500′ vertical drop that is served primarily by one fixed grip chair that runs base to summit. It is also almost entirely covered with conifers. These trees, when properly thinned as they are here, make for some excellent glades. The mountain has these glades in quantity, including some long mellow jaunts that can ski almost the full vertical.

The calls of skiers and snowboarders cheering their way down powdery glades needed no translation. While I found the free refills on the trail to be quite entertaining, most of the riders preferred to spend their time enjoying the mountain out of sight.

After crushing a few top-to-bottoms, I decided to see what the fuss was about. Upon completion of the double black La Sauvage, I noticed that people were skating to the sector Nord-Est. Here begins some of the longest glades, accessed by a most unique pedestrian bridge that takes you over the La Vallée des Bouleaux.

There were so many trees and ‘sorties’ to pick your way through! One trick I’ve employed to find snowy descents at ski resorts is to take the first path you see in the forest, since most people are convinced that by pushing farther out they’ll find fresher snow.

On this day though, I was led astray. The interior tracks at the Nord-est led to cliffy descents back to the vallée I had just passed over that I did not want to ski. After a few schwacks I gave up and sent it back.

When you fight mountains, you often lose, but I was able to make it down the right way on my next attempt, and the new snow skied perfectly without hint of the crust that lay a couple storms below. The sun broke through the clouds as the mountain started to wind down at about 3:15.

I was pleased with how things had worked out. I’d made a tough drive to the middle of nowhere, and found snow where it’s been scarce. I headed back to the bar to enjoy an IPA and relive the day.

And there, free popcorn in hand, basking in country music, I realized that North America is indeed one continent united, under skiing, eternally.

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9 comments on “Mont Édouard Feels Like Home

  1. Mont Edouard is one of my favorites (sorry, it’s Canada: favourites). Glad you had good conditions. We loved the Nord-Est sector.

  2. Never heard of this mountain but looks truly amazing. I love Quebec, Mont Sainte Anne is a great mountain and it’s literally on the outskirts of Quebec City. Le Massif is truly stunning as well. I don’t speak French but have always wanted to move to at least Montreal.

    How did you make that move as a US Citizen? I’ve applied for a jobs up there but companies are loathe to sponsor you as it’s a difficult process to get approved. They have to prove that they can’t find a Canadian to do the job first. (Not to get political here but even as an urban liberal, it upsets me how easily we import foreign workers yet other 1st world nations don’t reciprocate) .

    Interested in your path to Canada.

  3. That seriously does look awesome and at first glance at the pic of the ski area I thought it was in the West.

  4. I am glad you have discovered our hidden jewel. I was there also on New Year day and I agree that conditions were beyond excellent. I must say that Mont Edouard has been the best ski mountain in Quebec for the last few years, since we have been spared a lot of rain or freezing rain that most other ski resort have received.

  5. Really great to read your adventure.
    This is my hometown and the place where I learned to ski.
    I went down those slopes countless times and I simply can’t get enough of it.
    Luckly the recently added sous-bois let us hide from the tough windy days.
    I haven’t tried it yet but the haute-route secteur is getting bigger every year and apparently a lot of fun.

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