Quebec ski hill operators are rejoicing after a snow-filled start to the season, only a year after one of the worst in decades.
Mont Orford ski hill in the Eastern Townships has sold two to three times more tickets than even its best years, said president and general director Jacques Demers.
"It's incredible," Demers said.
The strong showing so far this season represents a sudden turn of fortunes for ski hill operators, after one of the warmest winters on record.
But this year's blast of snow has left them raving about the "amazing" conditions.
"People love that," said Louis Gagnon, manager of the Mont-Édouard hill in L'Anse-Saint-Jean.
"We are very lucky this year. We have a lot, a lot, a lot of snow."
Gagnon's Saguenay-region ski hill has two cabins where backcountry skiers can sleep overnight. They are booked up through to the end of March.
Struggles with climate change
For several years, ski hill operators have been trying to offset a drastically different situation, investing in order to battle against the onslaught of climate change.
"We had to buy new snow guns, trying to make sure that at the beginning of the season we are able to make more snow more efficiently," said Chloé Chagnon, the communications coordinator for Mont Sutton in the Eastern Townships.
That's because the Christmas season is key.
Mont Orford, for example, does a third of its business over the holiday season.
Enthusiastic operators are now looking forward to March break.
The Sommets Saint-Sauveur collection of hills in the Laurentians is still seeing strong sales of its season passes, and its ski school is booking up, all of which add up to a promising spring.
"We have great momentum," said Simon Pagé, the customer experience manager. "Everybody is talking about skiing."