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Snow Lover’s Trivia: Mont Sutton offers natural skiing experience

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Even if their lives depended on it, there are some die-hard skiers and snowboarders who would not be caught riding anywhere else other than Mont Sutton.

Why is that you ask? Well, there are a bunch of reasons for this obsession with the Eastern Townships ski area, just within the USA/Canadian border, an hour’s drive from Montreal, and a possible day drive for many in St. Lawrence County.

The first and most important reason is that Sutton has always stayed true to its core “raison d’être,” skiing and snowboarding. It is an authentic skier’s mountain opposed to say the big ski-industry, commercial ski resort. Do not expect any fluff other than the snowflake variety at Sutton.

The area offers some pretty awesome skiing and plenty of it too. Of the 53 runs and mind-boggling 194 junctions, more than 60 percent are aimed at beginners and intermediates. If you are looking for some gnarly black and double-black diamonds, you will find about 20 such runs below the Round Top, Sutton’s summit.

Sutton’s celebrated glade skiing, which accounts for an amazing 40 percent of its terrain is what makes Sutton such a unique place. To stay true to the vision of the late Réal Boulanger, the founder of the ski area in 1960, while other ski areas cut trees, widen runs and remove obstacles, Sutton’s crews plant trees to keep skiers away from towers, redirect traffic flow into the woods, and make the overall ski experience more interesting.

According to Christine Boulanger, one of Réal’s daughter, “skier au naturel” at Sutton means skiing the terrain the way nature shaped it and the way skiers transform it as the snow cover thickens. The key point that epitomizes Sutton’s skiing and snowboarding is: ride the terrain as it presents itself to you. Furthermore, even though Sutton features a good-sized terrain park with all the requisite toys, natural hits abound, and the whole ski area is really just one gigantic snow park.

Sutton’s management strongly believes in preventive maintenance, both on and off the slopes. Even though Sutton gets an average 473 cm of snowfall a year, the resort’s snowmaking capability has just been increased to close to 70 percent, with the addition of 45 new snow guns this year. It is also worth mentioning that the fleet of antiquated narrowgauge Tucker grooming machines, with their trademark four independent tracks (the secret weapon behind glade maintenance) has been updated too.

Speaking of secrets well kept, check out the resident black bear during your next visit. You will see it in a large tree on the lower slopes. And while we are talking about locals, on weekends, follow their example by arriving early to savor the goods and take a late lunch, preferably at one of the two chalets on the top ridge, then stay on the snow until closing time. That is what Sutton “vrais mordus” do. They ski and ride hard, the whole day.

Visit Sutton, brush up on your French and enjoy the skiing!

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