Off-piste skiing

By Dominic Boucher, director of the Avalanche Centre of Haute-Gaspésie

Off-piste skiing is emerging in Québec, including in the Chic-Chocs and also in some ski resorts developping “wild” areas. During winter 2012-13, Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), a leading retailer of outdoor equipement, has recorded a 40% increase in sales of products related to off-piste skiing. In fact, it is estimated that this activity shows about 20% growth per year!

Off-piste skiing refers to skiing, snowboarding and telemark, practiced outside of groomed and patrolled ski areas. Sectors sought can be near lifts, which facilitate the access (out of bound, sidecountry, slackcountry) or in the heart of the remote backcountry (backcountry skiing). However, no matter the location, skiing off-piste presents a higher risk of avalanches as well as other opportunities to get hurt, get lost and have to wait a long time for help to arrive. For the mountain to remain a safe playground, the Avalanche Centre recommends being prepared, having the necessary equipment and knowing how to use it before you go.

The introductory course on avalanche safety (CSA 1) is an essential starting point for improving safety in the backcountry during winter time. This course will teach you the basics of nature and avalanche formation, recognizing risky slopes, how to use available tools, moving safely in the mountains and how to perform a safe rescue.

More information available on the CSA 1 course on the Avalanche centre website:


So close, and yet so far away

By Roger Laroche, Ski Columnist for

Mention a trip to the Chic-Choc Mountains ll certainly generate a lot of enthusiasm s very own this enthusiasm will begin to wane as they start talking about how far away they are. Funny thing is, this magnificent Québec winter gem is no farther than many of the more traditional alpine destinations.

In fact, the trip takes no longer by car or Gendron shuttle than it would to get elsewhere by plane. The Chic-Choc Mountains have all the trappings of any other great ski resort: off-piste skiing, snowshoeing and meta-skiing can all be part of a unique vacation that will get you off the literally, and figuratively.

Whether you choose the Auberge de montagne, four-star luxury accommodations in the heart of the wild, or the renowned Gîte du Mont-Albert, you’ll get to experience the know-how of Québec’s hotel industry and enjoy the best and most welcoming it has to offer.

As the old saying goes: Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. But, if you look right in your own backyard, you’ll discover that Québec offers unique winter escapes that are the envy of many.


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