Having worked in the ski industry for a number years, Chic-Chac was a name I’d heard thrown around in the instructors locker room back when I used to teach snowboarding at Lake Louise. I had never really looked in to it too much until I discovered my addiction to cat-skiing last year and since then it’s a name thats been stuck in my head ever since.
It’s a place that’s well known in Quebéc, Chic-Chac guide Frank Robicheau referred to it as ‘powder centre of the east’. Beyond Quebec, it attracts frequent guests from Ontario, New York, Vermont and Massachusetts and with a season beginning in December running through until the end of March, receiving an average of seven meters of annual snowfall, it’s easy to see why.
Coming from the Canadian Rockies I’m always skeptical coming east, and for good reason. Our seasons are seven months in length, the runs are long and the snow is deep. Most importantly, the snow is soft. Having skied in eastern Canada before, my expectations were kept on the fence. Little did I know that the Chic-Choc mountains were hiding deep soft champagne powder.
We had a house rented for two nights and two days with Chic-Chac in the town of Murdochville. Don’t let this aged town deter you from this area, it might be a little run down and remote but the magic is in the skiing and the people. We arrived late in the afternoon on the tail end of a three day storm, the worst I’d ever been in. The storm had dropped over forty centimetres of snow on the Chic-Choc mountains with winds up to 150km/hr in places. Fortunately for us, we woke up on the first day of our skiing to a bluebird day and believe me, it was welcomed by everyone.
Our time at Chic-Chac consisted of two days of cat-skiing. Day one on Porphyre mountain, crown land, and gladed faces. Day two on York mountain, private Chic-Chac tenure, full of man made features and gladed tree runs. Guides; Charles Wild and Frank Robicheau led our small group making sure we had fresh tracks on each run. Averaging around thirteen runs each day between the two mountains, I was left feeling tired at the end of each day with a huge grin on my face to go along with it.
Fed throughout the day by chef and guide Simon Dubois who left us with food comas at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meal time was special at Chic-Chac, 54 people eating in one room, laughing, sharing stories. The atmosphere was incredible and the vibe was contagious. When I asked guide Frank Robicheau at dinner why people come to Chic-Chac, his response was ‘Look around you, this is why people come here. It’s for the people, the ambience, the skiing in the day and the people at night’. It was obvious to see what he was talking about just by taking a glance around the room.
Chic-Chac operates three Cats during their season with the new addition of a helicopter for heli-skiing. The nearby Mont-Miller ski area caters for anyone looking to do some resort skiing or have a rest day between cat-ski days. They’ve been in operation for 9 years now and it looks set to be a strong future for them. From my personal experience with Chic-Chac, you would be crazy not to come here!