Mont Grand Fonds (www.montgrandfonds.com) in La Malbaie, Quebec is a long drive from Cornwall so many people from Ontario and western Quebec may have not visited this gem yet. I’ve been hearing about it from friends so we decided to make the trek and see it for ourselves.

When we arrived after 5.5 hrs in the car from Valleyfield, it was a cool -14 but very sunny. Right away in the parking lot I was struck by four things: 1. There’s only one chair lift and two T-Bars; 2. Almost every run has bumps (moguls) from top to bottom; 3. Many of the slopes were very steep; and 4. I could only see one skier on the whole mountain actually skiing down! (Insert grin here.)

We excitedly changed, got our passes and jumped onto the first chair lift ride. This is an old school non-detachable quad chair but perfect for this hill. There were no line ups all day and the T-bar that runs parallel to the chair lift was slightly faster plus it felt warmer. When accessing the left side of the mountain where the steeper non-groomed and gladed runs are, the T-Bar is the best option. When exploring some of the gentler groomed slopes on the right, the chair lift is the best.

We chose an open groomed run to start and get our legs warmed up. While the corduroy was crisp and fun, we learned that skiing fast without much effort was quickly chilling us to the bone. For the next run, we chose to head left at the top towards some of the glades and hopefully warm back up.

Without knowing where to start we chose the farthest run (L’ Emerentienne) and headed down. This run was quite wide open and had very large and hard moguls which, for only the second run of the day, was a little outside of our comfort zone. However, we definitely warmed up after working our way back to the T-Bar.

On the way down, we noticed some smaller side trails that promised more glades so we went back up and chose Nagano for the next run. In here, you really get to know why Mont Grand Fonds is so special. You have spectacular views of the distant mountains but viewed through a green frame of pine trees, carefully spaced to allow skiers room to navigate the natural bumps on the way down. The morning light was filtering through the trees and enhancing the colours of the trees against the bright snow. It’s easy to picture how eight inches of fresh powder would make this run into something even more special. Still, the changing pitch of the slope allowed us to find bumps that suited our abilities and we returned to do this run many more times during the day.

As we explored more of the mountain, we discovered that the bumps were available on almost every run. It’s easy to see why people in this area (and all of Quebec) become such good skiers. Some of our favorite moguls were found on the easy and intermediate runs. The gentler slopes allowed us to work on our technique and develop confidence to go back and tackle the bigger bumps. So much fun!

After a full day of skiing bumps, it was time to warm up and enjoy a beer in the lodge. Mont Grand Fonds is renowned for the Après Ski party and we knew there was live music coming so we worked our way through the busy “Pub Le Sommet” to find a spot. We were lucky to arrive just as a group was leaving a table right in front of the stage.

Two IPAs from the microbrewery de Charlevoix in Baie St-Paul were quickly in our hands and the music started. The band (Troublemakers) was fantastic and my friend explained that the lead singers (Genevieve Jodoin and special guest singer Stephanie Bedard) were both very well known in Quebec and had been on TV in music competitions. Both girls could really rock, using powerful songs such as Barracuda, Back in Black and Paradise City to showcase their vocals. The crowded bar was raucous, singing and dancing along from the first song. The timing of the party is perfect for skiers, with music starting at 4:00 and after three encores, finishing at 5:30.

With the end of the music, people started heading out and we loaded up our car and headed back to the village of La Malbaie and our hotel, Auberge des Peupliers (www.aubergedespeupliers.com). After a wonderful meal in the small riverside hotel, we were grateful for the soft bed and rest for the next day’s adventure in neighbouring Le Massif.