Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge

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Chic-Chocs

First things first: If you want to sound like a local, it's "shick-shock." And Chic-Choc means "a wall that can't be crossed" in Micmac, the language of the local Indian tribe. At Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge you'll plunder deep valleys full of shady gullies and 40-degree glades—all located 3,000 feet above the sea on Quebec's remote Gaspé Peninsula.

The lodge opened in 2005 and is the only full-service backcountry ski operation in Quebec. It sits in the middle of a 27-square-mile zone in the Matane Wildlife Reserve. A rumbling, two-hour ride in a chenillette—a modified snowcat—brings you from the nearest road to the center of the reserve, where guides stage daily ski tours to the surrounding ridgelines while the chef prepares roast duck and morel sauce back at the lodge. If you're a skilled backcountry skier and like long approaches, ask for a couple of maps and take your day into your own hands. Hike four hours to the summit of Mont Matawees, the highest mountain in Eastern Canada, and drop into a 30-degree bowl with views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Slogging: It's a Quebec thing, oui?

WEATHER AND SNOW: Though it's just 18 miles south of the St. Lawrence River, the snow here is closer to Utah powder than Quebec's typical scratch—and it sometimes comes in three-foot single-day dumps. Still, some fronts can bring 65-mile-per-hour winds and temps of minus 60. Try booking a trip around St. Patrick's Day, when the base is well established and storms roll in regularly.

TERRAIN HIGHLIGHTS: A long ridgeline that Chic-Chocs Lodge staffers glade and trim each summer, Mont Frere du Nicol-Albert features several northeast-facing shots that drop a thousand vert at 40 degrees through birches and firs. In spring, hit the 1,600-vertical-foot line on the sunny south side of Frere.

GUIDES: Lead guide Jean-Francois Dubé has 21 years of experience and Canadian Avalanche Centre certification; his four minions have wilderness - medicine certs from Sirius Wilderness Medicine, Canada's equivalent of Wilderness First Responder training.

LODGE: Perched on a shoulder at 2,000 feet, the lodge has huge picture windows and Adirondack chairs on the front porch. All 18 rooms feature oiled-wood floors, exposed beams, and bowl sinks—and the sauna and outdoor Jacuzzi are open 24/7. The common area—with an honor bar, fireplace, and espresso machine—is lined with deep couches and has a telescope pointed toward Mount Colman.

CHOW: Take a celebrated Quebec chef, Alain Laflamme, drop him into the backcountry, and what do you get? Smoked trout served with a ginger granita. Roast duck. Scallops topped with orange-saffron vinaigrette. And local specialties like maple taffy—warm maple syrup spread on snow, then eaten off a fork. Everything is served at communal tables.

MUST KNOW: Brush up on your high-school French—though the guides speak fluent English, many guests don't. Key words: croà»te (crust), peaux (skins), pudding chômeur (an off-the-charts-sweet breadpudding).

Max Elevation:

4,166 feet


Max Vertical Drop:

1,600 feet


Average Daily Vertical:

4,000-5,000 feet


Price:

C$295 a day for three, four, and seven-day all-inclusive packages

Info:

sepaq.com/chc/en/auberge.html

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