Summiting a 60-metre-tall ice cliff in Quebec’s La Mauricie National Park is not for the faint-of-heart, but reach the top, says climbing guide Benoit Chamberland, and you’re treated to some spectacular winter vistas. Chamberland guides for Maïkan Aventure, an outdoor activities operator based in Trois-Rivières (about 60 kilometres from the park) and the only company that leads ice climbs in the park. The ice cliffs, part of the Canadian Shield, are suited to all experience levels. One, a popular climb known locally as the Mollets route, is a mere one kilometre from the park’s visitor centre, while other frozen cliffs are found about an hour’s hike into the bush.
When to go
Depending on the weather, the ice-climbing season usually spans from late January to early April.
What to bring
Make sure to layer winter clothing and plan appropriately for the weather. The Maikan Adventure website has a list of recommended accessories and outerwear, including snowshoes. No need to worry about climbing equipment though, as rentals are included in the price of the activity.
Where to stay
For a rustic experience, stay in one of the park’s Otentik shelters, a cross between a tent and a cabin that can accommodate up to five people, at Rivière à la Pêche campground. Or head about 40 kilometres south of the park and treat aching muscles to a spa treatment and a gourmet meal at Le Baluchon Eco Resort in Saint Paulin, Que.
Where to eat and drink
Maikan Adventure and Le Baluchon Eco Resort teamed up to provide guests an authentic taste of the La Mauricie region at Éco-café Une Faim de Loup (Hungry as a Wolf eco café). Located in Trois-Rivieires, Que., the casual eatery offers stunning views of the Saint-Maurice River and simple dishes made with local ingredients.
Also in Trois-Rivieres is Cabane Chez Danny, a classic sugar shack renowned for its traditional spread, including meat pie, baked beans and, of course, pancakes with maple syrup.
La Mauricie National Park is home to the Laurentian Mountains, one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
Read or watch before you go
The Voyageur by Grace Lee Nute is account of the French Canadian guides who navigated the sometimes dangerous waterways of Quebec and Ontario.