Western Newfoundland, April 6-9, 2023

Posted by Patrick Lam on Sunday, May 7, 2023

Table Of Contents

I’ve wanted to ski at Marble Mountain for a long time. Easter weekend was coming up. I noticed that Marble tried to stay open until at least Easter, and that Aeroplan redemptions to YDF were reasonable.

I got the ticket and then looked for a rental car, which I eventually ended up getting in a bundle with a hotel for C$689 all-in (3 nights, 1 car). Not super cheap, but car rentals are kind of expensive these days. My ski and food costs were really low, though.

Day 1: Gros Morne National Park

I stayed in Hamilton on Wednesday night (hi Gus!) and caught a Thursday nonstop YYZ-YDF, departing at 8:35 and arriving at 12:45, so there was enough time to see Gros Morne National Park that day. The guy next to me on the plane (seat 24A is actually kind of cramped) showed me iceberg pictures, but they were too far: I’d be up for at least 4 hours of driving to get to Iceberg Alley. St. John’s is better for that.

YYZ parking lot; our plane to YDF; waiting area.

I figured that Baker’s Brook Falls in Gros Morne would be an accessible hike. It was 16km for me. On the way in, I kept my snowshoes on my pack. That mostly worked, but there was 200m that was more sinky. I put on the snowshoes on the way out and that was much easier. The road to the campground was too snowy to drive, so that added an extra 7km of walking to the advertised 9km.

I actually brought significant gear with me in Newfoundland: skis, snowshoes, and ice axe/crampons. Didn’t take the ice axe or crampons out of the bag.

On the hike, I was also following tracks of two people and something that looked like a dog. Turns out the animal was not travelling with the French-from-France couple. Or rather, I chatted with the French couple and saw no dog. Maybe it wasn’t a dog. I was hoping to find people to climb the Mountain with but they didn’t look like a good bet for that.

The falls themselves are scenic, with the snow adding an extra touch. These are the more tiered type of falls rather than the long drop. There are a couple of distinct falls.

Gros Morne flats; Baker's Brook Falls; Berry Hill.

The drive out to Corner Brook was about another hour from Gros Morne, with stops at the East Arm lookout. At the hotel there was an analog watchman’s station.

East Arm lookout.

Days 2 & 3: Skiing and snowboarding at Marble Mountain

Marble Mountain has 225 acres and 1759’ of vertical to Tremblant’s 630 acres and 2116’ of vertical, but it also has, I dunno, less than one-tenth as many skiers. There was never a line for the (one) quad lift. Maybe it’s not so viable as a business (it’s owned and subsidized by the province), but it was great to be there.

It turns out that Marble Mountain tried switching to a noon-7pm schedule this spring. That makes a lot of sense to me, though I’ve never seen any ski resort with that schedule. In the winter there isn’t enough daylight, unless you’re doing night skiing. But after Daylight Savings Time you can definitely do it. Staff said it was an attempt to be available for people to get out to ski in the evening. Marble Mountain is 10 minutes from Corner Brook, so that’s quite viable for the 32,000 residents of Corner Brook.

Captain Cook, and a crow.

Captain Cook is famous in New Zealand. But I learned that he also spent a few years mapping Newfoundland, before being deployed to the Pacific. I visited the Captain Cook monument in Corner Brook and checked out some birds at the Griffin Drive sewage outlet (warm water, I guess). Then I had a very average poutine at the Marble Mountain lodge (lukewarm temperature).

Ring-billed gulls, greater scaup, Iceland gull, gull in flight.

The skiing on Friday was great. It started a bit slushy at the beginning, but the temperatures got a bit colder and the snow improved. There was lots of terrain that was interesting to me, namely bumps and trees. I was back on my (ancient) Volkl 6* all-mountain skis, rather than the beginner rentals I had in Japan, and gained confidence in the skis’ abilities through the day and was able to ski more aggressively straight down the bumps.

View of the Humber River; skiing in the trees.

After 5 hours of skiing, there was a wind stop for the lift. Some suckers were stuck on that lift for an hour while that happened. By chance, I wasn’t. At the bar, I chatted with a father and son from St. John’s who had stopped at Marble to ski before proceeding north to snowmobile.

Day 3: Oh no! Icey!

I planned a second day of skiing at Marble for the Saturday, after getting lunch in town. I bought my $59+tax lift ticket, started skiing, and noticed that everything interesting was closed due to ice. Oops.

I had the sunk cost of the lift ticket, and the groomed trails would be really boring on skis, so I rented a snowboard for another $40+tax. The groomed terrain was navigable, so it really was an excellent day to practice snowboarding. Did the blue runs fine. Can kind of fumble my way down black diamonds, but not competently (including the last run, oops).

Hard & Icey; Closed & Dark; Humber River and low clouds.

With the complete lack of people on Saturday, I didn’t talk to anyone on the chairlift. Found some adventurers on Friday, though. Maybe I have some people to go skiing with on future trips.

Day 4: Pasadena, Gros Morne again, and back

I had booked a ticket out of Deer Lake at 17:20 so that I’d have time on Sunday to do more Western Newfoundland things. It wouldn’t have been great for skiing, especially with the ice and the noon-7pm schedule. OK, time to battle the FOMO. What could I do?

There were a bunch of hikes that I could potentially do in the park, though yesterday’s avalanche forecast—the last for the season—was “considerable”, so not so good for going into the wilderness. And e.g. the Tablelands would be more of a drive and also under snow.

I finally decided to go snowshoeing at the Pasadena Ski & Nature Club. It was a walk in the woods on my snowshoes. Didn’t see that much, just trees and a few birds. It was out of the wind, though, which was useful.

Welcome to Pasadena Ski & Nature Club; coniferous forest; ski track.

The Gros Morne Discovery Centre was closed. I walked to the treeline on the Lookout Trail. Probably should have used snowshoes to proceed beyond treeline. Didn’t quite manage to have lunch. Could’ve gotten something at the airport, but didn’t.

Tablelands ×2; Discovery Centre (closed); Bonne Bay.

My flight back was via Montreal, where I had a 3h26 layover, and was scheduled to arrive at Toronto at 22:56. MP was scheduled to arrive at Toronto at 22:36. I short-checked my luggage to Montreal, picked it up, and stood by/changed my flight to the 20:00 departure. That would have been great, except that it was delayed and ended up arriving at 23:13. And then Pearson did the Pearson thing and my luggage took 45 minutes to come out. Thanks, Pearson. MP’s luggage, from her United flight from Houston, came out much faster, so she had to wait for me.

YDF; approach to YUL; YYZ.


The best food in Corner Brook was at Sorrento: the seafood crepe was great. Also good air quality (or not many people on a Saturday night). Also had a worthy gyro donair from Louis Gee’s, which was really busy at 9pm, and OK fish and chips from Da Marcus. The chicken salad croissant from Harbour Grounds was pretty good; the hot chocolate was too sweet.

Donair gyro; poutine; fish and chips; seafood crepe.