Damé au Massif de Charlevoix

Behind the Scenes of our Winter Operations

You have been skiing the mountains for many years, often since you were very young. Ski resort operations seem almost natural and are not something you give much thought to. Certainly when everything runs smoothly. But what really goes on behind the scenes? What are the issues and the responsibilities of the departments that oversee ski operations? Our ultimate goal as a ski destination is to provide you with a memorable experience on the mountain. Take a look behind the scenes of all the operations required to create a unique winter experience at Le Massif de Charlevoix.

Did You Know?

  • Snowmaking operations run for about 45 days, around the clock, for a total of about 1080 hours, with 2 teams of 5 people dedicated solely to this task. 
  • We spend nearly 240 hours clearing the mountain, in a span of 6 weeks between summer and fall.
  • The mountain requires nearly 10 hours of grooming per day, at a rate of 4 groomers simultaneously dedicated to this task. 
  • Grooming is an art that, much like snowmaking, requires certain conditions. 
  • Before you even get up, our operations and communication teams are on duty to evaluate the snow conditions and ensure you have the best mountain experience.
  • Beyond the operations you may see at a ski resort, we also have land development experts who monitor water runoff and much more.
La patrouille au Massif de Charlevoix

Mountain Operations

The lift crew, patrollers, ski instructors, mountain guides, sledding guides, guest services team, events, catering, customer services, electricians, building attendants, communications team, administration, all work very early in the morning to ensure that the mountain’s operations run smootly. Everything is set up so that the guests can have the most incredible experience, both on the mountain and at our various service points.

Facing the freezing temperatures of winter nights, working before dawn to prepare the magnificent corduroy carpet, creating the perfect white gold, moving heaven and earth even in the most extreme conditions to ensure that the mountain is at its best: this is what our operations team does day after day, night after night, so that our guests arrive to find a beautiful and rejuvenating playground. This is why we like to call them the mountain warriors.

Enneigement au Massif de Charlevoix

Making White Gold

Snowmaking has been more difficult in recent years. Climate change is making our winters fickle, unpredictable and, above all, less snowy. So, what are the impacts on the production of white gold? Several factors come into play in the making of snow. Considering Le Massif de Charlevoix’s geographical location and proximity to the River, the sun, the wind and the degree of humidity are all part of the equation.

The process of water turning into snow through pressurized air is called nucleation. The droplets created immediately transform into flakes. The longer the flake remains suspended in the air, the drier it becomes, forming high-quality snow.

Cold Streak

A cold streak of several days is necessary. Why? Because the first snowmaking stage alone can take up to 6 hours to start production. The same is true for the closing stage. Good energy and water management are therefore key.

Making snow in marginal conditions, like in warm temperatures, doesn't give the desired results. A volume of snow at -2 degrees will be twice as small as one made at -10 degrees. This is what happens when the snow mounds turn yellow.

The Sun

The sun plays a big role in the nucleation process. When you see a rainbow in the droplets, it is never a good sign. The sun heats up the droplets, slowing down the snowmaking process.


Due to the proximity of the river, the prevailing winds on the mountain add complexity to the task of our teams, who must control everything to ensure that the manufactured snow falls in the right place

The work of the snowmaking operator

This work is done in extreme conditions and on rough terrain. Snowmaking operators, also known as the ’’flakes”, work long hours, day and night. They are often required to manage water damage in the cold. In the event of a breakdown or electrical failure, a race against time begins to empty the system of its water before it freezes

Dameuse au Massif de Charlevoix

The Art of the Corduroy

Who doesn’t love the sound and feel of skis biting into the perfect corduroy? Snowmaking is an art that requires precision and expertise. Our snowmaking operators work in difficult and often risky conditions, certainly since we have the highest vertical drop east of the Canadian Rockies.

In darkness, storms or freezing temperatures, caution is required at all times. However, nothing is ever guaranteed as our microclimate and the rocky soil of the mountain create their fair share of challenges. Vehicles and machinery, as well as maneuvers, must therefore be adapted to our playground.

The Importance of Clearing Brush

Brush clearing begins in the summer. It helps clear the ground so that it can retain snow for a longer period, thereby providing exceptional skiing conditions. All the trails are pruned using a machine designed by Le Massif's teams, developed with the assistance of engineers. It is twice as efficient and saves a lot of time in the field. The off-piste sector, on the other hand, requires manual and strenuous work.

Working the Snow

It's not just about the amount of snowfall. First and foremost, it's crucial to create a solid base to avoid damaging the trails and machinery in the medium term by grooming too early at the start of the season. It's essential not to bring up the vegetation hidden beneath the snow or apply pressure on the ground too quickly.

When the base is favorable, our groomers make an initial pass on the trails without grooming to compact the snow and remove any underlying defects. Only during the next snowfall can light grooming be performed.

Did you know that some slopes can only be groomed every other day in order to keep them in the best possible condition for as long as possible? This is the case, among others, for the La Prairie and La Martine.

The grooming teams must constantly adapt to weather fluctuations that affect skiing conditions. It's especially impossible to groom sticky snow after a rain episode. They have to wait for a temperature drop that's not too cold to prevent the snow from freezing. Our operators have a narrow window of opportunity to get out on the slopes. Being experts in this art, they continuously assess the conditions to avoid damaging the trails and machinery.

Télécabine au Massif de Charlevoix

Safety Above All

The Lifts

Never take anything for granted; always have Plans A, B, C, and D, because even on a seemingly mild day, anything can happen. Inspections of the lifts and trails are conducted more than once a day to ensure the safety of guests and provide a worry-free skiing experience.

In total, 8 months of maintenance are required for the upkeep of the lifts. We perform constant and preventive monitoring, requiring multiple safety tests. Six mechanics work year-round to be fully prepared for the start of the season. We tally nearly 5,000 hours for the maintenance of all the ski lifts.

Why do the trails and lifts sometimes take a while to open or stop for a period? Our mechanics are on-site from 6 am each morning to inspect each of the ski lifts before the mountain opens. No lift operates until it's inspected by one of our mechanics.

There are many safety systems on a ski lift, including electronic ones. The more safety features, the more potential for stops to occur. When a stop is triggered by an electronic device, one of our mechanics must go to the location to inspect the problem before putting the lift back into operation. It's a race against time that is always carried out according to best practices to take all necessary precautions to avoid major issues.

The geographic location and climate characteristics of Ke Massif de Charlevoix result in conditions that vary in all areas of the mountain. Snowstorms, freezing rain, strong winds, and extreme temperature changes are all elements that can interfere with lift operations and are considered from a safety perspective.

La patrouille au Massif de Charlevoix

The Patrollers: The Firemen of the Mountain

They are the eyes and ears of everyone on the ground. Patrollers are responsible for the overall coordination with each department. From signage to evacuations, they must remain trained and ready to deal with anything. They are the last safety net before the mountain opens and closes.

Hand in hand with the operations team, the patrollers perform a tremendous amount of prevention work, ensuring favorable skiing conditions as they are responsible for analyzing and looking out for obstacles that could compromise the safety of our guests.

Working as a patroller requires a lot of coordination and concentration. Everything at the mountain is overseen by our knowledge guardian, the Grand Duke. He knows everything that is going on, at all times, and relays the information between the departments.

The mountain's geographical peculiarities pose one of several challenges. Many trails at Le Massif are interconnected, like a funnel. Skiers' and snowboarders' trajectories must be optimized and safe. Patrollers must always think in terms of evacuation and safety, in compliance with the regulations of Quebec ski resorts.

The top of a sector can offer fantastic conditions, but if the trails that follow are not in the same state or if the level of difficulty increases during the descent, the sector must remain closed. Everything is in the details and precision, on the large and distinctive scale of Le Massif.

Guide Bell au Massif de Charlevoix

Dedicated Staff and Guides

In the peak of the season, when the mountain is at its full capacity, in operation 7 days a week, there are 135 employees in place including 11 guides. The need for labor is a real challenge, considering the significant and widespread labor shortage in Quebec, not to mention the remote location of the mountain. Our partnership with Le Massif union contributes to our commitment to making our employees happy for the long term.

To address the labor shortage, volunteer Bell guides lend a helping hand to our teams to ensure the smooth running of our activities. On a voluntary basis, those with the appropriate training can be compensated for working in certain areas, depending on the needs. Their assistance is more than valuable and appreciated by all. The spirit of family and mutual support among employees is felt when challenges arise. The love of the mountain makes anything possible.

Yvon remontées mécaniques au Massif de Charlevoix

The True Artists of the Mountain

Le Massif de Charlevoix is a unique destination that requires continuous preparations all year round but is most importantly the result of all the hard work from our employees. Everyone’s goal is always to offer a memorable experience on the mountain.

The teams work hard to ensure that every problem that can be solved internally is solved without the guest being aware of it. However, anything can happen and the unexpected is part of the day-to-day life. Even challenges that seem impossible are overcome to ensure normal operations. Every employee is an expert in his or her field. We are all committed to continuous improvement, innovation and sustainable development to make Le Massif continue to shine as it is both our home and our pride.