Fun Adventures Await at Mont Tremblant
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Warmly tucked inside our heated high-speed gondola, my son and I take in the spectacular scenery as we soar up Mont Tremblant (www.monttremblant.ca), the highest peak in Quebec, Canada. The resort’s European-style village appears underneath. Looking as if they have been airlifted straight from the French Alps, the buildings are painted brilliant shades of pastel, cream or orange, and capped by red and silver roofs.
At the 2,871-foot-high summit, towering trees pierce the bright blue sky like a skier’s stairway to heaven. A crisp cold wall of fresh air, scented with pine, greets us as the doors swing open. Clicking into our skis, we make our first run down P’tit Bonheur, a carved green (beginner) run through fresh snow. Schussing on a perfectly groomed white carpet, we are flanked by snow-laden trees on either side.
At the first lift, a regular lets us in on the local secret to avoiding long lines: Ski the more remote North Side and Edge area in the morning, and in the afternoon, when the uninitiated discover that the easier runs are on the North, head to the sunny South Side and Versant Soleil. With 49 miles of trails cutting through 654 acres of varied terrain, there are plenty of options here for skiers of all levels. I surprise my son—and myself—with a daredevil routine on the six-meter-high half-pipe in Tremblant’s snow park, rated one of the best snow parks in North America by Ski Magazine (www.skinet.com).
We venture to Versant Soleil in the afternoon. The rugged landscape is heart stopping. Contoured trails hug the natural terrain with undulating troughs and sharp rising mounds. I careen down the roller-coaster-like slope. Total freedom! Later, drawn by the smell of burning wood and maple syrup, we stumble on a voyager’s log cabin, where a roaring fire and hot refreshments beckon us inside. Weathered wooden snowshoes hanging on a wall remind me it’s time for the “walk on the wild side” part of our winter adventure.
We head up the mountain again, this time on the back of a snowmobile and outfitted with rented high-tech snowshoes—only our tracks mark the pristine snow. Early dusk is the ideal time to observe area wildlife. Barely 25 yards along the trail, a mother doe keeps three young fawns in tow. Feeding on a thicket of trees and shrubs, they pay no attention to us. After a perfect winter day, I have a translation for the resort’s slogan, “joie de vivre”: Anyone coming to Tremblant had better be prepared to have a good time.
John W. Yan is the founding publisher of the Canadian Tourism Commission’s TOURISM magazine. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.