A recent article in the 2013 Ski Canada Buyer's Guide has published Jasper's Best Kept Secret, and now word is out that Marmot Basin is THE place to ski without the crowds.
HOTEL JASPER (excerpt)
Travel//August 31, 2012 //By Lori Knowles
Waiting for us at the other end of the ride is our Marmot ski guide, Milt Gilmour.
Milt arrived in Jasper to work on the railroad in the late 1960s and never left. He’s now a mountain guide, a ski pro, a ski shop owner and a lover of a pint of ale at the end of the day at the D’ed Dog, a Jasper après-ski hangout. Milt has been assigned to show us the mountain. We stand at the ski lodge and look up.
The layout of Marmot Basin reminds me of a five-card flush in a game of poker. Its ski runs fan out in front of you in a semicircle, and all the good stuff is there. The black diamonds of Eagle East are on the left, open bowls and easy greens are in the middle, and long, steep, super-fast cruisers trail like ribbons along the far right ridge. Milt talks of Marmot’s pre-lift age, when skiers walked or skinned these marvellous, tree-spotted pistes or rode part-way up the logging trails in pickups.
But the world has changed. Last winter, Marmot Basin entered the space age of skiing, debuting not one but two new lifts: the Paradise High-Speed Quad and the School House Triple. The installations brought an end to a flurry of Marmot improvements that totalled $25 million—positively payload for a ski area inside a national park. The updating craze also included the welcome launch of the Canadian Rockies Express in 2010, the longest high-speed quad in the Canadian Rockies.
Once we get skiing, I find the new lift system makes a massive difference. My last visit to Marmot was at least 10 years ago when T-bars pulled our tired bums up the hill, and riding the kick-ass terrain along Chalet Slope and Eagle East required a hike or a ride on a sled from a willing patrolman. Now these double diamonds—Poacher’s, Easter Alley and Outback—are only a lift ride away. Spectacular.
Our first favourite run turns out to be a surprising little pocket of trees that leads down Chalet Slope toward Paradise Chalet. We while away an hour riding around loosely gladed trees, ducking branches and rolling over mini gullies. Marmot’s mini-rail park is a major draw for a nine-year-old boy, but I manage to pry him off long enough for some race-speed cruisers off the new Paradise Chair.