Snowmageddon hit Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula in January, dropping nearly 100 cm of snow at the Auberge de Montagne des Chic-Chocs in just 48hrs. My timing was impeccable. I’d missed my chance to ski the east last winter when I broke my arm, but I’d rebooked my trip to the lodge for this winter. I arrived just as the storm relented.
Over the next few days, I learned that the Chic-Chocs are unlike any other east coast backcountry skiing. The mountains average annual snowfall exceeds that in the Canadian Rockies; the terrain is serious, and the Quebec Avalanche creates a daily forecast; and although the skiing is mostly below treeline, it’s still steep and deep.
Although I visited just after the largest snowfall of the season, these were not rare conditions. These mountains receive plenty of snow and backcountry skiing is still a niche sport. There simply aren’t enough skiers for the terrain, so snow lasts weeks after a storm.
With that said, here are my 9 favourite images to inspire skiers to Visit the Auberge du Montagne des Chic-Chocs.
My 9 Favourite Images to Inspire Skiers to Visit the Auberge de Montagne des Chic-Chocs
There is no public access to the Auberge de Montagne des Chic-Chocs and it’s for good reason. From Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts, guests first take a shuttle along logging roads.
I’ve spent significant time in backcountry accommodations around the globe, but I’ve never stayed anywhere quite like the Auberge. In western Canada, most ski touring-focused lodges are rather rustic and dormitory-style rooms are the rule, not the exception. Luxury lodges with private rooms, gourmet food, and on-the-grid amenities are typically reserved for either heliskiing or cat-skiing operations.
At the Auberge, it’s truly the best of both worlds. The lodge itself is stunning. The rooms are comfortable and there’s no limit on hot water. There is even an inhouse massage therapist and an outdoor hot tub. The meals, which are served up family-style, are delicious.
The Guide Team
The Auberge de Montagne des Chic-Chocs isn’t a self-catered experience. A team of dedicated guides lead day trips into the nearby backcountry.
It’s a great system, too, as the guides break the clients up into groups based on ability levels and ambition. Beyond that, they’re pretty flexible, too, and allow small groups to ski on their own with certain restrictions.
During my stay, the guides put in a skin track that accessed a 350 m long gladed run. Avalanche concerns were low, given the conditions and terrain, so faster skiers were able to yo-yo the terrain as much as they wanted. The only restriction was skiing with a buddy and maintaining radio communication with the guides.
Earning Our Turns
I’ve been lucky. Over the years, I have gone heliskiing, cat-skiing and sled-skiing, not to mention skiing endlessly at resorts.
In the backcountry, my unquestioned favorite remains alpine touring. I love earning my turns.
At the Auberge, there is plenty of terrain near the lodge; however, three is a little help when needed. When we skied Frere du Mont Nicol-Albert, we used the snowcat to quickly travel the 5km from the lodge, before climbing and skiing the mountain.
I made you wait for it, but the single biggest reason I want to return to the Chic-Chocs mountains is the skiing. I simply loved the snow and the terrain.
Comparisons are never easy and the Chic-Chocs make it even more difficult because of their location and size. It isn’t western Canada and the mountains don’t soar into the alpine.
But I can honestly say that the backcountry runs I enjoyed in the east were among the best tree-skiing runs I have ever experienced.
Crazy, Unpredictable Light
I only spent three days in the Chic Chocs, yet I experienced all types of weather and light. Storms moved in and out. We had clear skies, heavy snowfalls, wind and calm. At sunrise, we witnessed stunning alpenglow.
How to Make it Happen:
Book in Advance:
The season is short, as the Auberge de Montagne des Chic-Chocs is only open from December 27 until March 30th. It also sells out each winter, so its best to book months in advance. Although it brings colder temperatures and shorter days, January tends to be the easiest to book and, in my experience at least, the skiing is phenomenal.
How To Get There:
There are a few ways to get to Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts, where Auberge guests meet at the Hotel y Cie.
For anybody driving long distance, the town is located 500 km north of Quebec City along highway 132. It’s a beautiful drive, but guests must plan at least six hours for the journey.
If flying, the nearest airport is Mont-Joli, which has daily connections with Montreal. The airport is still a 2-hour drive from Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts, so visitors will either must rent a vehicle to complete the journey or take the Orleans Express bus.
My experience at the Auberge de Montagne des Chic-Chocs was part of a collaboration with Quebec Maritime. As the regional tourism organisation, their job is to promote tourism to this beautiful part of Quebec.
I visited in the winter and I’d recommend it to anybody, but I also know that backcountry skiing is still a niche sport. If you’re looking for inspiration for a winter or summer holiday in the area, the Quebec Maritime blog has plenty of great ideas.