Tremblant Trail Review: Banzaï, North Side

Thu, Dec 25, 2008

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Tremblant Trail Review: Banzaï, North Side

Today’s featured trail review is a North side run called Banzaï, which has become an interesting run through history.

From the very beginning, in 1938, Joe Ryan the visionary founder of Tremblant, knew that the North side of the mountain had special characteristics. He knew that the snow came earlier there, layed deeper, and stayed much later into spring. These are all factors that would become a great asset to Tremblant. However, it wasn’t until 10 years later, in 1948, that he was able to finally open the North side of the mountain. 

Both financial and logistical hurdles had to be overcome, the largest being the construction of the road around the South perimeter of the mountain. But finally, in March of ’48, the North side was officially opened. 

The run we see today, Banzaï, was one of the original upper North side lift lines that Joe Ryan built to service his new terrain. Of course the “T” bar has since been long replaced by high speed detachable quad chairs, so this gem was wisely reconfigured and opened as an official run. 

Banzaï runs roughly parallel to the Duncan high-speed quad chairlift. As you’re standing at the top of Duncan’s unloading area facing down the Mountain, you can access Banzaï by proceeding to the left of the chair between the unloading zone and the Ski Patrol’s HQ. 

As a former lift line, Banzaï is a perfect “Fall Line” run. Its fairly narrow by modern trail standards, but still wide enough to run a packer through it, which makes it perfect for an accomplished intermediate or expert skier who can make turns on a 3 to 4 meter wide space. 

Banzaï also has the natural advantage of having very tall trees sheltering it on both sides, which often act as “Scoops” for the snow laden wind passing overhead. Consequently, Banzaï can have greater accumulations of snow on it in comparison to many of Tremblant’s wider runs, because not only do the trees act as scoops, but they prevent the wind from blowing any of the precious white stuff away. Frequently, you’ll find Banzaï filled with powder snow, long after the rest of the mountain has been well skied. 

Banzaï has 3 distinct pitches along its length, which follows the contours of the Mountains flowing geography. 

First, it starts out with a medium steep, steady pitch that’s like skiing the concave interior of a bowl. You can see this shape as you’re going down, which gives the skier a good view forward toward the turns that need to be made in order to keep speed under control. 

Secondly, Banzaï has a very nice, relatively flat portion, just below the mid-way point where one of the old Mountain access roads cuts across it. This is a beautiful carving area that goes on for about 15 to 20 turns or so until it comes to a brow in the hill. 

Thirdly, it once again returns to a steeper pitch, slightly different from the top in that it’s more convex in character, until it reaches the end, in a hollow at the bottom. You then find yourself with two options; heading left towards the lower part of Lowell Thomas, or turning right to go back to Duncan. 

The most challenging portion is the lower third, which can have moguls on it from time to time, but you can usually find out by looking at the grooming report on the internet or at the top of the mountain. You can also usually find out from the mountain’s friendly Patrollers and Info Personnel. 

Any intermediate ski or snowboarder can do this run, and would enjoy exploring one of the mountain’s historic little “time capsules”. Quaintly tucked away, Banzai showcases some magnificent scenery in a wonderful quiet ambiance that takes you back 60 years with its charming layout.

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