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Mont Vallières-de-Saint-Réal. Photo : Phil Émond

Self-Guided Backcountry Skiing in the Chic-Chocs

Enjoy unforgettable self-guided backcountry skiing experiences on six of the impressive Chic-Choc Mountains.

Parc national de la Gaspésie

The park’s ski areas offer both glades and snowfields where you can enjoy backcountry skiing, telemarking and snowboarding. Accessible via Route 299, they are located 8 km to 12 km south of the park’s Discovery and Visitors Centre.

Access to these ski areas requires travel by car and an approach varying from 30 minutes to 3 hours. On average, it takes just under an hour for each of these climbs (depending on your destination and your level of physical fitness). Remember that caution should be exercised due to the risk of avalanches! It is recommended to venture into the mountains with at least two other skiers. Avalanche transceivers, shovels and probes are available for rent at the Discovery and Visitors Centre.

Parc national de la Gaspésie. Photo: Roger St-Laurent, photographe

Mount Albert: Mur de Patrouilleurs and Grande Cuve, expert level

Shaped like large bowls, the ski areas on Mount Albert are worthy of Western Canada! Good physical fitness and backcountry experience are required to enjoy these slopes. Since the Mur des Patrouilleurs (literally “Patrollers’ Wall”) is at high risk of avalanches for several months in the winter, be sure to check the avalanche risk level before you set off. If you are at risk, choose another ski area and postpone this experience until spring.

To get to the Mur des Patrouilleurs, park at the Ruisseau-Isabelle parking lot and then head to the Serpentine shelter about 5 km away. (This should take you about 1.5 hours.) You will still need to travel an additional 1 km to reach the Mur des Patrouilleurs, which offers a vertical drop of 725 metres.

At Grande Cuve (literally “Large Vat”), the risk of avalanche is lower because the slope is not as steep. However, it will take you longer to get to this area: you will need to travel 8.5 km (which will take at least 2.5 hours) from the Ruisseau-Isabelle parking lot. Grande Cuve offers a vertical drop of 695 metres.

Mount Logan. Photo: Steve Deschênes

Mount Logan, intermediate level

One of the highest peaks in Québec with an altitude of 1150 metres, Mount Logan requires over 30 km of ski touring to access it. As a result, although this mountain is classified as intermediate for backcountry skiing, it is relatively difficult to get to (and the trip requires several days). You can depart from the Village Grande Nature Chic-Chocs resort (Saint-Octave-de-l’Avenir) to get to the Le Huard hut, which is 13 km away, on your first day. This is a difficult trail with an elevation gain of 170 metres. The next day, you will need to cover 18 km (difficult level, with an elevation gain of 495 metres) from Le Huard to the La Nyctale hut. You will then be 3.3 km (intermediate level, with an elevation gain of 125 metres) from the summit of Mount Logan. The following day, you can enjoy an extraordinary backcountry skiing experience in pristine snow! From the top of Mount Logan, be sure to admire the St. Lawrence River and the wind turbines in Cap-Chat to the north, as well as a series of magnificent mountains to the east. On the way back, you will spend a night at the Le Carouge hut, 10 km away (intermediate level, with an elevation loss of 280 metres) and then ski 19 km (intermediate level, with an elevation loss of 385 metres) from Le Carouge to the starting point, the Village Grande Nature Chic-Chocs resort.

Champ de Mars. Photo: Phil Émond

Réserve faunique des Chic-Chocs

You can also enjoy backcountry skiing in four other exceptional sites. Note that although they are found on the territory of the Réserve faunique des Chic-Chocs, please contact the Discovery and Visitors Centre in Parc national de la Gaspésie for more information.

Champs de Mars, intermediate level

A real treat for backcountry skiers and snowboarders, the Champs de Mars feature several snowfields and open glades with vertical drops ranging from 250 metres to 350 metres. From the top, you can admire the magnificent view and choose from the following descents: Champ de Bataille, Champ de la Paix or Descente du Gladiateur. To access the Champs de Mars, head to the end of the parking lot located 9.5 km from the Gîte du Mont-Albert hotel (south on Route 299). On the main marked trail, you will cross the Sainte-Anne River before starting your ascent.

Mount Vallières-de-Saint-Réal. Photo: Phil Emond

Vallières-de-Saint-Réal, intermediate to advanced levels

Featuring a long bare (and therefore windy!) ridge with extraordinary views from various small peaks, Vallières-de-Saint-Réal offers an elevation gain of 940 metres to Sterling Peak and vertical drops of 200 metres to 250 metres (intermediate to advanced). To access the mountain, park on the shoulder of Route du Lac-Sainte-Anne near one of the following trails: Cotayage Nord (which will take you to Sterling Peak), La P’tite Vite (which will take you to Platine Peak) or the trail to the Ruisseau du Bois. The remote peaks also give you access to La Crème de la Crème and Bandido, which features open slopes.

Mount Hog’s Back. Photo: Steve Deschênes

Hog’s Back, intermediate to advanced levels

Easy to access, this mountain in the Réserve faunique des Chic-Chocs is a classic for backcountry skiers! To get there, head to the parking lot located 12.8 km south of the Gîte du Mont-Albert hotel, on the west side of Route 299. The climb to the summit is short (about 3 km), but challenging: it will take you about 1.5 hours. If you are experienced, you will want to opt for the Grand Couloir, from the north summit. Otherwise, you may want to try out the “secret field,” with descents varying from 170 metres to 450 metres.

Mines Madeleine. Photo: Ski Chic-Chocs

Mines Madeleines, expert level

An integral part of the McGerrigle Mountains, Mines Madeleine is in the northern part of the Réserve faunique des Chic-Chocs. This area offers six sectors classified from demanding to complex by Avalanche Québec, with vertical drops ranging from 150 metres to 500 metres and 35- to 55-degree slopes. Despite its multi-level appearance, this area is isolated and has many distinctive characteristics. It is therefore recommended for experts only. There is a 12-km approach to reach the Mines Madeleine hut, which will take you 6 to 8 hours on snowshoes or using climbing skins. Given the risks inherent to this area, you may want to opt to ski there with a Ski Chic-Chocs guide.

Important Note

Before setting off on your backcountry skiing adventure, make sure you are aware of avalanche conditions. (Scroll down the page and click on “English version.”) It is recommended to enjoy this high-adrenaline activity in a group with the proper gear and safety knowledge.

Would you like to enjoy an unforgettable self-guided backcountry skiing experience in the Chic-Chocs in Gaspésie? Be in the loop! Plan your winter gateway at tourisme-gaspesie.com today. #gaspesiewinter

This blog post was inspired by the Zone.Ski website (in French only), which provides information about the mountains mentioned above.

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