Over The Border and Through the Blizzard to the Chic Chocs We Go

We all have that one friend who shoots out a random text about some crazy trip to a far away place with mystical blower powder.  Well...that's Ryan Gibbs to me!  His Instagram name is @powdergibbs for god's sake! 

Right after Christmas he texted me about this crazy idea to ski some amazing Canadian powder in the Chic Chocs.  The drive he said is only eight hours...from Orono, ME.  I don't live in Orono though, so tack on another 2.5 for me!  Great!!!  10.5 hours of driving with only a guide book, some random online searching and words from friends and friends of friends! This is a stupid idea I thought.  I even told Ryan, "Ryan, I don't know man, my wife will kill me, I've got a dog and a 7 month old at home. Its a lot of driving and we don't even know if the snow is gonna be good." 

Literally as I shot that text to Ryan, my wife asked me who I was talking to and I said, "oh just a buddy about some stupid ski trip that will never happen."  She asked, "when and where?"  I replied, "In a couple of days, in Canada (laughing)." 

"Oh, you should go", she said.  You have the week off, and I'll be at work all week.  "Huh!?!?!", I said? 

Quickly, I texted Ryan back and said, "I'M IN"!

The plan was to leave later in the day on Monday, like around 2 or 3...ish.  I could pick Ryan up in Orono, ME around 6:30 and we would arrive at the trail head around 3am.  We could sleep for a few hours in the car and ski all day.  What could possibly go wrong, I thought?

Shortly after picking up Ryan in Orono the rain began.  The rain quickly turned to freezing rain, then to sleet, then to snow.  About an hour from the border the roads had about 8-10 inches on them and were completely un-plowed.  If I told you I DIDN'T think of turning around I would be lying.  I thought about it the whole way, as we drove 30MPH (that's like 50kph for those of you who like the metric system)!!!!  Add in my car getting searched for 45 minutes as we crossed the border and Ryan getting questioned for 25 minutes and we arrived at the trail head at exactly 8:00am!  For those of you who don't like math, that's 18 hours in a car driving through a blizzard!

-----   Sorry.  Quick paragraph about how my wife came down with the flu the day I left.  She told me she didn't want me going anymore.  I told her it was too late.  So yeah, I left her alone, with the flu, a 7 month old and a dog.  Sorry, honey!   Editors Note: Her parents were at our house for the holidays...so she had some help! ------

Anyway, here we were at a trail head at the base of a mountain near the Le Gite Du Mont-Albert,  just outside Parc national de la Gaspésie. (That's all the beta your gonna get)  Ryan and I looked at each other looked at the fresh foot of snow in the parking lot and got this jolt of stoke!  With in 20 minutes we were skinning up the trail.  The place we skied on day one is just outside of the Parc national de la Gaspésie, and because of that locals have created a beautiful skin track through the woods to the summit. 

Minutes from the car we are breaking trail in the coldest, lightest POW my skis have been on in a while!  Gibbs cannot stop grinning.

After about 15 minutes the skin track gets steep, we throw up the heel risers and ascend.  The snow gets deeper, and deeper.  Eventually we pop out onto the ridge line. 

No rain crust and from what we were seeing on the way up...fairly stable snow pack!

Traversing the ridge line and picking our ski line! 

A shot of myself skiing what Gibbs and I both believed to be the best line of Day 1.

We called it a day after three laps on three different lines.  We had driven 18 hours in a snow storm, had been awake for 36 hours and were exhausted.  After a quick dinner and celebratory beer at the Le Gite Du Mont (our hotel) we called it a night.....at 6:30pm!  

We woke about 12 hours later to start day two!  After a great night of sleep and a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we didn't exactly know what to do.  We did know that we had to leave around 3pm that day and any big objective was off the table.  The goal, like day one,  was untracked pow! 

After several minutes of driving down the road we spotted what looked like some nice snow fields and thought that it could make for some good skiing.  Not a minute later we ran into a trail head.  We parked, geared up, and were off and skinning up hill in no time.  Not long after we parked other skiers began to show up as well. 

After several minutes we found ourselves breaking trail AGAIN!  It took us about 75 minutes to reach the summit and another 20 or so looking for something ski-able.  Several minutes of back tracking led us to a gorgeous, untracked, snow field.   

Day 2 of our smash and grab of Canadian Pow!

After four laps our legs were shot and our hearts were full!  We had a nice and easy ski out to our car where we met Hugo, a French guy, who was in Quebec for school.  He lives near Chamonix, France and happened to have a cutting board with him and real French cheese that his parents had mailed him.  He offered us some of his cheese and we offered him a beer and sausage in exchange.  He gladly accepted.  It was the end to a great trip and the start to a LONG car ride home...this time though, no snow!

The skin track taking us back up.  We broke trail for everybody that day...but also had the first tracks!