A Snow Thrill on the Downhill
in Charlevois, Quebec:
Rodelling at Le Massif
I stood at the top of the hill, shivering in my helmet and new Ugg boots. Ahead of me was the first leg of a colossal snow slide.
“Don’t worry,” laughed Giles, a twenty something kid I’d met in the snow tractor on the way along the top of the mountain, and who obviously couldn’t wait to attack the hill. “Your fear will keep you warm.”
In a way he was right. While the fear dissipated quickly, the adrenalin kept me warm.
If as a child you experienced a Canadian winter, you will share the collective memories of sliding down icy hills on toboggans, sleds, flying saucers or even pieces of cardboard.
That childhood descent was intoxicating, but would only last ten seconds, if that, and then you would have to drag your sled back up the hill to do it again. I remember wishing that the downhill thrill could go on for ever.
If you shared that feeling, rodelling is for you. It’s a ‘piste de luge’ experience featured at Le Massif in the Charlevois, the only place in North America that offers this winter adventure. It’s a sledding dream come true, providing a professional hand-crafted sled, a long uninterrupted and challenging groomed track, and at the end, a gondola to take you back to the top. The 7.5 kilometre track winds through natural forest, twisting its way down the mountainside to end at the edge of the frozen St. Lawrence River. In total, the rodelling experience takes about two hours, and it is a cool winter thrill, an exhilarating alternative when skiing becomes old hat. Or old tuque.
So, now I have snow down my neck, leaking into my gloves and glued to my cheek. My tuque is ascue and the fir trim on my new boots is heavy with ice pellets.
So why am I smiling? Because, even though I was going too fast, missed the turn and ended up inbedded in a snowbank, this is the most winter fun I've had in years.
The attraction has proven so popular for the resort that it has expanded its hours and is often fully booked. Any winter sports' lover, especially one who is finding skiing and boarding a bit ho-hum, will want to try rodelling.
At the end of the hill, you can glide up to the top to the ski resort in the gondola and enjoy white linen dining in Mer et Mont at the chalet.
Afterwards, you can take the train back to Baie Saint Paul, and warm up with a night in Hotel La Ferme, or return to Quebec City.
Rodelling - my idea of a cool winter sport!
Le Massif de Charlevoix Ski Resort
Phone : 1-877-Le-Massif (536-2774)
To the Summit (+/- 75 km from Québec City):
- Follow signs for Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
- From Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, continue along Route 138 for about 45 km
- Turn right at the sign for Le Massif, located on the right-hand side of Route 138, 15 km BEFORE the town of Petite- Rivière-Saint-François
- Drive 6 km… You’ve arrived!
- Follow directions for Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
- From Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, continue along Route 138 until you see the sign for Petite Rivière St François, located about 15 km past the sign for the summit of Le Massif
- Turn right, drive to Petite-Rivière-St-François
- Continue along Principale St. for about 15 km
- Turn right at the sign marking the entrance to Le Massif, onto the access road
- Proceed to the parking area… You’ve arrived!