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Report from December 28, 2020
No matter where you are skiing in Quebec right now, this year has gotten off to a rough start. Promising early-season temperature drops turned out to be just an oddity, and temperatures have consistently fluctuated above and below freezing level, bringing snow and often rain into the mix. This has led to troubling openings for many ski resorts, and new COVID-19 guidelines have not made that any easier. On Christmas Day, most of Quebec was hit with large amounts of rainfall, with Mont Orford receiving 15mm and temperatures spiking to 55ºF (13ºC).
Luckily with temperatures dropping again, Orford and others have been able to make some more snow, and mother nature helped by dropping an extra inch as a bonus. Today, Mont Orford was finally able to open their hybrid gondola to the top of Orford mountain, expanding their terrain and lift capacity. Although this was a good sign, Christmas Day’s rain made the only run down, Maxi, a nightmare. A blank sheet of ice plus large crowds made it prime for crashes. Throughout the day, I saw three people with my own eyes being taken down in ski patrol toboggans, with multiple incidents involving more than one person.
Over on Mont Giroux, the easier slopes made the ice easier to handle, but the lifts lines we difficult to cope with. During the morning’s peak activity, I found that I was waiting for an average of 20 – 25 minutes in line for a lift that serves only 700’ (213m) of vertical. It surprised me how busy it was because Mont Orford is currently only selling around 100 lift tickets a day to the public. This meant that the bulk of the skiers were season pass holders, trying to get out and enjoy the holiday break.
Overall, COVID-19 guidelines were followed pretty well. The majority of people were wearing masks properly, and staff members were enforcing proper safety measures. The only thing I was a little confused about was the lack of outdoor dining spaces for guests. As you can see in the photo below, there was lots of room for tables and seats to be set up, but none of this area was in use.
Although it was a rough day overall, it is still amazing to be out on the slopes. We have to be thankful for what we have and that the ski hills are even open during COVID in the first place. With continuing cooling temperatures and a little help from mother nature, Mont Orford should be up and running like usual in no time!