Writing Challenges

Hold on

Day 2 of 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing and I have no one to blame for this but myself. And Nicky.


Jan 21st 2013 was one of the coldest days in the history of my ears, so it made perfect sense that I’d be springing out of bed at 4am to make the 5:30am bus to Quebec City. 3 weeks prior I’d agreed to go skiing with colleagues and although I knew that I’d have to wake up early to do so, I didn’t know that locally it would be -25C, without the wind. The top of a mountain 4 hours to the north wouldn’t be any warmer.

Most of the drive along A40 was in darkness. There was a faint glow in the Eastern sky for what seemed like hours and then 30 minutes before the Old City, the sun suddenly popped up over the horizon like a flickering golden dime. It always amazes me how slowly the sun rises when you watch it and then how quickly it does, when it finally gets going.

The St-Lawrence was frozen solid, its shoreline littered with the jagged, frozen debris of ice floe causalities from the recent thaw and sudden refreezing of the river. The bus continued north, leaving the historic city and its outskirts behind, making its way deeper into the Charlevoix region and up into the mountains.

Now we were on narrow, snow choked secondary roads leading to the summit. Minutes later, we’d arrived, and although I was warm in my 4 layers of clothing I was itching to get off the bus.  I don’t know about you, but after 4 hours on a packed tour bus, claustrophobia begins to set in.

I put on the rest of the essential layers: balaclava, hat, gloves and goggles. Stepping off the bus, I grabbed my gear and walked over to meet my team, the snow squeaking beneath my boots.  .

Saying it was cold would be an understatement, but as long as you were dressed warm, skiing in extreme cold was entirely possible (and enjoyable!). One word of advice though:

Don’t hold on to the chairlift with bare hands or else you’ll never be able to let go.
le massif summit riviere st laurent coldest day

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  • Spectacular photo. Your hands must have frozen while you took that shot.

  • You’re a brave soul Mike; a cold, brave soul.

  • What a fantastically stunning photograph! Did you take that with your new camera?

  • Really beautiful photo. Hope the trip was worth getting up early for and fighting the cold. From the looks of the photo, surely it was.

  • I stink at skiing, but admire those who can. I was complaining because it was 17 F here last night. Guess I’ll rethink that.

  • I’m not a skier, but I love beautiful scenery. That shot is gorgeous. In temps like that (which are unheard of here), there would be no bare skin whatsoever exposed, which means I would have missed the view. I’d like to know more about what is off in the distance.

  • Hey Mike, I think you’re holding back… You didn’t hold the pole on the chairlift, you licked it, didn’t you? =D Indigo

  • What a gorgeous photo, however you could never tempt me to participate in such an exercise. However, I will meet you at the ski lodge for a hot toddy.

  • MikeWJ

    -25c is really cold, but I love your description of the sunrise! It is exactly like that on cold days. I hate it.

  • I take it you’re still up there on that mountain, holding on to the chairlift, not able to let go, writing your posts one-handed on a phone with a dying battery?

    I love the photo. 🙂

  • Ah… lessons learned the hard way. You obviously thawed out enough to get off the chair lift… or at least I assume you did. You’re not still up there, writing this on a laptop and grabbing at a hunk of cheese every time the chairlift circles the snack chalet, are you?

  • I am pretty tough…. but when it gets to MINUS numbers, I’m OUT! You are pretty amazing in my book!

  • Cadeaux

    You know you are insane, right? I freeze in my house and the thermostat is set to 76. Okay, well, maybe I’m the insane one…but I doubt it! 😉

  • Was it a dark and stormy morning? No beer and wifi?

    As for skiing in that weather — you are insane. Though the photo is really nice. Love the blue sky. Don’t stick your tongue to the chair lift, either. Even if somebody says it tastes like cheese.

  • Nope, with the phone. -30 would probably be too cold for anything with moving parts. Like humans, for example.

  • It was fine, but then again, I couldn’t feel anything.

  • And I’m still thawing out.

  • It really was. Not something I’d make a habit of doing though 😉

  • I’m not a great skier either, but I’ll try any hill once. Not sure I’ll try skiing in those temps again though.

  • That’s the frozen St Laurent river. Beyond that are farms and small towns. It’s actually not all that far from Northern Maine:


  • I did not. I never make the same mistake twice 😉

  • The lodge was actually very tempting, and it was on the summit. Same view but warmer.

  • It’s one of those things of horrible beauty.

  • Yep, I’m just that dedicated. And thanks 🙂

  • I made it back alright, except I’m not sure if this challenge is worse than being frozen to a chairlift or not.

  • Thanks, Katherine 🙂

  • I know I know, not my smartest move, but it builds character, right?

  • It was very very blue. Really stunning, but again, not making a habit if skiing in those temps 🙂

  • You woke up at 4am? That’s just cruel. And I cannot even begin to imagine THAT kind of scary cold. Good lawd.

    However, that picture is totally amazing.

  • KZ

    I’m not down for extremely cold temperatures, but I do have an appreciation for waking up at obscenely early hours in order to do something you love. For you, it’s skiing. For me, it’s paintball.

    By the way, if I were to ever find myself in temperatures that cold, you’d better believe I’d be covering up my hands with a pair of gloves.


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