Ski season begins at resorts in eastern Ontario and western Quebec

Ski season begins at resorts in eastern Ontario and western Quebec

Every pre-Christmas opening of ski areas counts as a victory. Thanks to a slow-moving snowstorm over Eastern Ontario, the ski slopes in the state capital area are ready for a big weekend.

Camp Fortune in Chelsea, Que. open for the season on Friday as a winter storm brought 20 to 30 inches of snow to the region.

“It’s been a pretty busy month with variable weather,” said Erin Boucher, director of Camp Fortune.

“But winter finally came, everything is white. The cold weather came, we had to make snow. We are so happy to finally be open.”

Boucher said around 300 skiers had already ventured up the hill by Friday noon, despite the treacherous roads.

“So that’s a really strong opening for us,” she said. “We usually open with one run. Today we opened with two runs and a magic carpet.”

Camp Fortune said they would open a third run and second chairlift for Saturday.

In the Ottawa Valley, Calabogie Peaks has 30 percent of its runs open and would like to take advantage of a second open weekend thanks to Mother Nature.

“I think we can expect 1,000 to 1,500 skier visits during the day,” said Sean Ireland, ski school manager at Calabogie Peaks.

“But when our elevators are operational, it will be good enough so you don’t have to wait in line for too long.”

Ireland say if the snow from this storm stays it will set the stage for a successful season into 2023.

“Having that wet snow as a base is really good for getting things going and then we can get lighter, fluffier stuff on top,” Ireland said on Friday. “This heavier snow will eventually freeze as it gets colder. So this layer of ice isolates the ground from the rest of the snow.”

Mount Pakenham is also heading into its second weekend of the season, with four of its 10 rounds open this weekend and officials looking more optimistic than a week ago.

“This weekend to last weekend is a completely different thing,” notes Andrew Burns, operations manager at Mount Pakenham.

“The only snow we had on the ground was the stuff we made. So you drove next to grass.”

Burns is hoping he can give an extra gift to those who wake up under the tree with ski passes this Christmas.

“We will turn on the snow cannons again on Monday. Hopefully we’ll have the whole hill open by Boxing Day.”

Winter trails in Gatineau Park also open this Sunday for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow biking.

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