Ascent of Mont Belle Fontaine on 2008-01-19

Climber: Gabriel C

Date:Saturday, January 19, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mont Belle Fontaine
    Elevation:3780 ft / 1152 m

Ascent Trip Report

Again, this was a last minute decision. At 8pm friday, I went to buy some energy gels at MEC (and ultimately new Gore-tex pants, they had some of my size for once) and the plan was set. I was going to go either for an unnamed peak I put on the 3500' threshold list that I've built during my free time this fall, or for mont Belle Fontaine, which is the second highest summit in all of the Laurentians, that's second highest for hundreds of kilometers around.

I went to bed but had trouble finding sleep. I finally was able to get to bed for real around half past midnight, setting my alarm clock for 5:00am. When it rang, I must have snoozed a couple times, because next thing I knew, it was 5:54. So I got up, gathered my stuff, got dressed, and threw everything in the car. The drive up in the réserve faunique des Laurentides was tricky. It started snowing heavily the day before, and it was still going strong. Roads were very snowy, and it was dark. Visibility was null. I finally made it to the Forêt Montmorency, Université Laval's Forestry department test grounds. They have a nice road network and it is plowed up for a couple kilometers in the mountains. This makes for a very good trailhead. I parked the car as far as I could up the road, and put on my snowshoes.

They were needed, as even on the plowed road, there was at least 10cm of fresh powdery snow. When I got offroad, it looked more like over half a foot though. I was striding pretty deep, but it wasn't too demanding. Most of the distance to cover was on roads anyway, and part of it is used for the official snowmobile trails network. I then decided to go for Belle Fontaine. It is the furthest of the two, and I was feeling great, except for my left hip, which started to ache right as I got on the trail. On my way in, I saw ski-doos twice. I was breaking trail for the first 5km or so when a couple reached me at an intersection, coming from the same direction, but taking theother road branch. After another kilometer or so, I crossed another one, going opposite my direction. I had now a firmer base on which to thread.

I kept going, taking numerous pauses to check my map and compare the landmarks. It was hard to refer to anything because of the poor visibility, but I was able to localize myself pretty accurately. In my mind, I was going to start bushwhacking up to a col between the main summit and a subpeak, but when I got to the spot where I had to leave the road, I found, to my surprise, that a new logging field had been started on that col. There was a gentle logging road going up directly where I wanted to go. So I started gaining altitude along this route until I reached two branches going in opposite directions from the main logging road. I saw that the slopes of Belle Fontaine had been partially logged, so I would have an easy time getting the early altitude. The wide open slopes were easy to climb, but when I got to the tree line, it got more complicated. I was reminded of my december attempt and how hard it had been, but this time, the snow base was firmer and I wasn't postholing at all. It was just a matter of route finding among the trees, trying not to end up in extremely dense and hard to navigate areas. After a while, the pitch was getting gentler, and finally, I stumbled upon the summital rocks. I could also see the remains of the abandoned fire tower.

There was no view whatsoever, it was still snowing pretty heavily, but I took some pictures. I found the NRCAN benchmark on the rock, but the camera was dead before I could take the picture. I didn't want to stay here too long as it was 11:15am, so I started packing my things up. While doing that, I noticed some bright blue flags going in the general direction of the unmaintained trail that went up the mountain from the north when the fire tower was active. I decided to try and follow it down instead of bushwhacking. At first it was easy to follow, but I lost trace of the trail after 15 minutes or so. I angled left and started towards where I came from. 20 minutes or so later, I arrived to that same logged slope I had come up. I actually saw my footsteps, around 50 meters to my left. Now it was only a matter of retracing my footsteps. Surprisingly, they were almost all erased, and completely gone in windy spots. Since it was later in the day, I started seeing far more snowmobiles. Some were courteous and nodded back when I waved, but one particular group was pretty funny. It was 3 extremely obese men carving very deep tracks in the snow. They never even shifted their heads to look at me, even though they clearly must have seen me wave at them. Must have something to do with that newsline these days about some nature association trying to get snowmobiles banned from certain national parks.

The way back was uneventful, made my way to the car unharmed, and my hip wasn't hurting as much as in the early morning.

I was starving, so I stopped at Pierrot when I was back in Quebec City, and ate the biggest, fattest, most unhealthy poutine available on their menu.

All in all, it was a dull day, but the hike was surprisingly easy. Second highest summit in the area bagged. next time, I'll try that unnamed summit.


Mont Belle Fontaine as seen from Montagne du Pavillon.

The first major intersection.

Another important intersection, I was going left.

This is a picture of the unnamed peak I wanted to climb. The actual summit is somewhere beyond that first bump, hidden in the snow and clouds.

This is the summit rock. The tower was standing over it in the past. We can see a steel post and some cables lying around. Somewhere in the middle of the picture is the benchmark.

Me before the tower's ruins. Pretty good for a self-pic.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1540 ft / 469 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1540 ft / 469 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.2 mi / 18 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Windy, Whiteout/Fog
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1540 ft / 469 m
    Distance:5.6 mi / 8.9 km
    Route:closed road + bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Junction, ch. du lac Laflamme  2240 ft / 682 m
    Time:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1540 ft / 469 m
    Distance:5.7 mi / 9.1 km
    Route:bushwhack + closed road
    End Trailhead:Junction, ch. du lac Laflamme  2240 ft / 682 m
    Time:2 Hours 45 Minutes

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