When General James Wolfe of the British Army prepared to take the city of Quebec in 1759 his troops camped on the Ile d'Orleans which sits in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. No doubt they looked north and gazed upon what is Mont-Sainte-Anne today. In fact, the mountain probably did not have a name at that time. They did not see the long treeless trails on the east face that currently exist nor would they probably have a clue to what they were if they in fact saw them.
Named for Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, Mont-Sainte-Anne, the ski resort as it is today, opened a little over two hundred years after Wolfe's Army was defeated. It officially opened in 1966 as a ski resort with four lifts and the only gondola in Eastern Canada, and ten trails for ski lovers.
Mont-Sainte-Anne has a rich history of skiing dating back to 1943 when a group of skiers set out to find a slope for a large alpline ski competition. Four years later the Canadian Championships were hosted at the mountain.
Today, Mont-Sainte-Anne is a modern well run resort where one can get a the flavor of skiing in the French Alps without leaving North America. Make no doubt about it, French is the predominate language. But a language barrier does not exist. The cusine is French too offering a different tinge to the pallat.
The average snowfall of Mont-Sainte-Anne is about 200 inches a year. This is augemented but modern green and efficient snow making systems which make for abundant and quality snow. When I first told a ski friend that I was going to Mont-Sainte-Anne, he recalled the quality of the snow and the grooming provided. I was not dissapointed.
Three sides to the mountain.
Unlike most ski area Mont-Sainte-Anne has skiing and riding on three faces. All sides offer challenging terrain. Althought the vertical is modest, 2,050 feet, the layout and the amenities make for a good experience.
The south side of the mountain is where the main base area and gondola are. There are more challenging trails such as "La Crete" and "La S" on the western end of the south side. These are real thigh burners which are steep, long and wide. A skier or rider can really crank out the verticals running laps on these. There are also several beginer and intermediate trails which wind around the eastern edge of the south face.
The south face has six lifts including the high speed gondola. One of the detachable quad chairs has a bubble giving the passengers a break from the wind if needed.
It is an difference experience in the Northeast to head up one side of a mountain and right off the back (north) side. The north faces also offers challenging trains. We liked bombing down the Black La Melanie Turgeon and doing laps on the detachable L'Express Du Nord quad taking in La Soumande and La Printaniere.
The west face, which is only serviced by a T bar, does not get used as much since most skiers and riders don't like them, sometimes offers some condidtions due to lack of use. It is said that many of the locals shead to the west side to get the best snow.
For those who not not get enough vertical duirng the day Mont-Sainte-Anne offers the 19 lighted trails for night skiing and the highest vertical drop in Canada. Night skiing is offer four or seven nights a week depending on the season.
Plenty of places to stay.
For those wishing to "Ski in/Ski out" Mont-Sainte-Anne has two very good options, the Chateau Mont Sainte Anne (http://www.chateaumontsainteanne.com) and Chalets Mont Sainte Anne (http://www.chMont-Sainte-Anne.com). There are serveral other accomodations for lodging throughtout the area. This is due in part to the annual pilgrimage to the St. Anne de Beaupre Basilica (http://www.ssadb.qc.ca/) in July of each year. Regardless of the time of year, the Basilica is a worthwhile stop to view the architecture and artwork contained therein.
One need not nessacarily go to Europe and the French Alps to be surrounded by skiers and riders speaking French and enjoying the same sport you do. You will find those who enjoy our sport and season friendly and accomodating.
Mont-Sainte-Anne, La Magnifique!!!