Wednesday evening, the day before the departure for Gaspésie. The luggage is completed, the last preparations are finished. The splitboards are ready, the touring skis too. As I finish filling my bag with my skins, my sleeping bag and way too many intermediate layers, Pascale calls on my cell phone. According to our guide and owner of Ski Chic-Chocs, Stéphane Gagnon, conditions are not optimal, but safe in the Chic-Chocs. We have the choice to postpone - again! - or go all in.
Composed of Pascale, Émilie, Maryse, Manue and me, our group of adventurers in search of challenges, decided to go to their destination and live the experience, for better or for worse. We leave for Sainte-Anne-des-Monts as planned, Thursday morning, March 25th. We are thirsty for knowledge, to learn on the field. To get out of our comfort zone (and out of our home too, but that's another story!). The spectacular sector of the Mines Madeleine in the Réserve Faunique des Chic-Chocs awaits us for three days of pure mountain skiing thrills.
The objective of our training is to give us the basic tools to navigate in the high mountains and techniques for descending in steep terrain. We will learn how to plan a route according to weather patterns, avalanche bulletins and learn about mountaineering equipment such as ice axes, harnesses, ropes, crampons and ski knives. All this guided by an incredible team of experts certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACGM: Philippe Gautier and Stéphane Gagnon, surrounded by their colleague to respect the ratios).
It's a challenge to get around and ski with full bags! Even more so when the conditions are difficult. We have had to adapt to changing weather conditions from a spring afternoon with clear blue skies to windy, colder days. These changes make us realize how much we are at the mercy of Mother Nature in the mountains. She always wins. Rarely the human being.
Our two nights of winter camping quickly turned into one. A magnificent one, under the full moon. But the storm was waiting for us the next day, the winds, the expected centimeters of snow and the return trip which was going to be quite stormy.
Thanks to this adaptation - and especially to our week of vacation - we were able to enjoy an amazing day of couloirs and bowls, under the sun, on the summit of Petit Mont Saint-Anne as well as the Cuve de l'Aigle. An excellent dose of adrenaline for all!
We come back from this training with a lot of ideas. Personal challenges to face. Goals to set for the next few years. The mountaineering camp is an introduction to a whole new world! This is why Les Chèvres de Montagne has decided to collaborate with Ski Chic-Chocs to offer training courses more focused on progression than an initiation to the high performance sports.
Progressing is a bit like learning: sometimes, you don't know where to start! Thanks to this collaboration, Les Chèvres continue its mission to provide unique experiences and knowledge in a festive (our trademark!) and safe environment.
We would like to thank our dedicated guides who endured all our laughter - and participated in it too! They gave us confidence and passed on their knowledge with such passion and truth. Our next goal? We are working for you, dear Chèvres, on the development of these new courses for the 2022 winter season.
Stay tuned! Memorable experiences await you, I promise.
Written by Elisabeth Beaudoin