Hiking at Tremblant offers an almost infinite number of possibilities for involvement and intensity from the perspective of either challenge or time, but one thing’s for sure, when you start out with this “Big Picture”, you know “Challenge” can be on the top of the list if you choose to make your objective the Summit.
(We encourage you to click on all the pic’s in this post on a full size monitor to get as much of a fullscreen view as possible. Not withstanding amateur photography, it’s the best way to get a sense of the scope of Tremblant’s magnificent natural terrain.)
Experienced Alpine hikers will know exactly how to prepare for time spent ascending any significant vertical rise, but for those less familiar with the sport, we think it’s appropriate to include some key planning elements that will maximize both enjoyment and utility.
Firstly, we use the reference term “Sport” in the paragraph above because hiking to Tremblant’s summit requires physical fitness equal to or greater than the performance of many other forms of activity labeled as “Sports”, particularly where endurance, muscle power and conditioning are involved. (This is one area where our opening statement about “infinite possibilities” is directly applicable though, as your time or fitness may not permit the all-out summit objective. Enjoyment from hiking at Tremblant can be had no matter how far you can go or how much time you have, the main point is to safely do as much as you can.)
So then, for the purpose of this article we are going to consider Tremblant’s summit as our destination, as well as the basis for additional exploration on Tremblant’s Versant Nord, the North Side. In many ways, you will be able to simply scale these ideas down if you’re planning anything less.
There are also gorgeous hiking trails off the summit that make a beautiful addition to any Tremblant Spring, Summer, Fall day with the quick access afforded by the 8 minute Gondola ride up.
It’s important to talk about time at this point too. If you have lots of time, as in all day, your hike up the Mountain can be done in stages, allowing for frequent breaks for rest, hydration re-fueling, photography or nature study. Unrestricted time with frequent breaks will allow those with less developed fitness to reach the summit with relative ease compared to those with any kind of time constraints.
We know people that have made it to the summit in under a half hour and those that have taken three hours or more. As a general frame of reference though, if you are a solid performer at any sport requiring leg and lung power/endurance, 45 to 90 minutes should put you on top depending on what route you take.
Selecting a route, or knowing what type of terrain you prefer will help determine how you dress for the occasion. If you like to stay on well identified trails or tracks, you can dress for complete comfort as far as shorts are concerned for warm days, but if you like to get off the beaten path, then we recommend long pants for all weather, with drawstring lower cuffs so they can be tied down/overlapped to prevent grass-cuts to lower legs or loose debris from getting into your footwear. Cargo pockets or cargo belts are definitely useful as well and may save the necessity of a backpack if you have few items to carry.
Footwear is the most critical component as even on the best of trails you will encounter loose and mixed size pre-cambrian stones and rocks in addition to uneven surface contours that can be the result of water run-off due to rain or spring snow-melt. You can get away with lug soled runners/trainers in open and/or even steep terrain, but we highly recommend good old fashioned high, above the ankle, rigid soled, deep lugged Mountain Hiking boots for both open and off-trail.
The advantages of rigid soles as toe or heel grips with good ankle support cannot be understated for sure-footed safety and end-of-day comfort. Also, it is unwise to break in new footwear on the Mountain, if you can, use shoes/boots that are well adapted to your feet by previous use. Blisters from abrasion points of new gear are nasty if you’ve still got 2 hours to hike.
Hiking Tremblant is going to warm you up as you burn calories along the way, so depending on the ambient temp’s you may want to have a light layer or two that are highly foldable for adjusting to comfort. If you need a backpack, necessity being defined as being able to have both hands free for climbing and without cameras or any other items hanging around your neck, choose one that has a spacer to allow airflow between it and your back if you can.
Having 2 hands free for climbing, without any dangling accessories is an important concept for any accent, especially if you choose a route with a higher difficulty. This adjacent picture is an excellent illustration of a number of points we’ve talked about so far.
The route up shown here is up Versant Sud, the South Side, via Alpine Ski Trail #13, Vertige, to the summit. This is a higher level of difficulty route and in the assessment of our very experienced Tremblant360 team members that did this hike, it is quite close to rock wall climbing. Looking at the upper right hand corner of this pic. you can see the summit observation tower and the Tremblant flag flying there. If you scroll back up to the top right hand side pic. in the post and click on it, you can see the same point almost dead centre, top of screen.
Some of us might get winded just looking at this climb, but actually doing it will surely mean tons of energy and the consequent need for re-hydration and re-fueling. Electrolyte based beverages like Gator-Aid and Protein bars are the kind of compact sources of replenishment that will help facilitate endurance and recovery, so think about including them before you head out.
You’ve made it to the top… Here’s your reward, one of the most spectacular views in Eastern North America!
You’ve earned a well deserved break and with the typical breeze at the summit, a chance to cool off a bit while you re-fuel, then, it’s off to explore the North Side!
We’ve chosen this picture of the mid-point, North Side Alpine Ski trails #65, Banzai, left, and #64, Marie-Claude Asselin to illustrate a point we raised earlier about “Off The Beaten Path”. The double track you see here is #65 and it’s obvious that hiking here is going to be quite easy. Lots of room, nicely cleared and very easy to navigate.
To the immediate right of this picture, #64 is “au naturel”, and if you are 5’10″ tall, standing in it looking up, this is what you see at eye level, right hand, trail side. The point is, without long pants that have a secure ankle closure/boot overlap, this trail would be extremely uncomfortable as lower legs exposed by shorts would suffer a high amount of brush scrubbing and footwear would fill up with trail debris very quickly requiring frequent stops to empty. For those who like this style of bushwhacking, an absolute blast to climb!
This is the same trail, #64, camera held over-head, arm extended. All the natural growth is at chest height. Absolutely awesome to think we ski this all winter, but for now, it’s in its wild state and if you want to hike in these zones, regardless of where they are on the Mountain, you need to be properly covered.
A quick word about descending… There will be many who think going down will be easier than going up and in a way it is, but in another way, it is not. The constant loading of your descending weight to hips, knees, ankles and feet as gravity amplifies the force of each step, is not something most are used to. Be sure to take your time going down and allow for stress reduction by “tacking” as sailors might say, or adding a zig-zag pattern to the steeper portions in order to reduce foot strain. When you feel it, you’ll know exactly what we mean. Keep this in mind if you are working in reverse, going Summit to base off the Gondola.
Flora and Fona… In addition to all the exercise benefits of Hiking at Tremblant, you get to see not only the long views, but the fascinating close-ups too.
If you’re really lucky, you might even be able to spot “Bambi”! Evidently, Versant Nord, North Side Ski Trail # 82, “Expo” is no problem for sure-footed deer.
As usual, no matter how you look at Tremblant, near or far, it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and hiking is one of the best ways that you can experience this superb Mountain for yourself.