Winter is hard. Cold weather breeds antisocial behavior. The lack of daylight drives down energy levels. And the snow and ice further hamper any activity that requires even a minimal effort. This year, with its record-breaking lows, has been particularly difficult, even in a Winter-friendly city like Montreal.
In an attempt t to stave off the S.A.D.s (ie., seasonal affective disorder), this year I decided to join the SSMU Ski and Snowboard Club.
With over 600 members, SSMU Ski Club is one of the largest (if not the largest) club on campus. You don’t have to be an undergrad to join. Heck, you don’t even have to be a McGill student! Sign up for the club this year was 90 dollars before the season (November deadline), and 100 dollars any time thereafter.
The Club organizes trips every weekend to local slopes, including Bromont, Owl’s Head, Mont St. Anne, and Mont Tremblant. Jay peak, in Vermont, is also on the list (though you will need to stop at the border for customs). Costs include round-trip bus transportation and lift tickets. With so many members, total costs are heavily discounted, ranging from 24 to 55 dollars for the more distant trips. I heard somewhere that going on two or three trips would already make up for the initial club registration. In an effort to further defer costs, my friends and I have been packing snacks and lunches (from what I’ve seen, eating at these ski lodges is decidedly expense, even for the most well-funded of grad students).
While some Sunday and under-the-lights night skis are organized, most trips are scheduled for Saturdays. Buses depart from Roddick Gates, from 5.45 to 7AM, depending on the trip. It can be a bit of a difficult wake-up, but at least the bus transport means no one has to stay up driving. The latest we’ve gotten back to Montreal has been 7.30PM, so there’s still room to schedule a weekend night time rendezvous, if energies permit.
As for equipment, I went the rental route. Poubelle du Ski, on St. Laurent just north of Parc Jarry, has all the necessary accoutrements, with season rentals at around 160 dollars. This includes: skis, poles, and boots. A ski helmet will set you back another 60 dollars. Adjustments are made on the spot, and rental comes with the assurance that the equipment can be replaced if any damage occurs. Finally, if you REALLY take to the sport, the price of rental can be used to purchase the equipment at the end of the season (a total of around 350 dollars).
Ski lessons from the resorts can be expensive, and fortunately, the Ski Club has a couple of members that offer reasonable rates, if needed. As a first time skier, I was really appreciative to my friends’ patience and encouragement in helping me get down the slopes.
So far I’ve gone on four trips. Each has had its own complications and near-disasters. But each has been overwhelmingly good. The views. The snow. The excitement of not crashing into a tree. And the new memories with friends. I have especially appreciated a distraction from dissertation writing that has not included looking at yet another digital screen.