Discovering the Area
In the late 1920s Joe Weiss skied into the eastern slopes of Marmot Mountain and found the area that he later called Marmot Basin. Joe was originally from Switzerland, but came to Jasper soon after arriving in Canada and became one of the early pioneers of skiing and ski mountaineering in the Rockies. Amongst many other jobs and pursuits, Joe acted as a guide for cross-country skiers from Whistler's Creek via Caribou Ridge and during WW2, trained British soldiers from the Scottish Lovatt Scouts Regiment in alpine skills at Marmot Basin.
Early Skiing at Marmot Basin
It wasn’t until the 1950's that the first road was built to connect the highway with Marmot Basin. One local who skied at Marmot Basin during the 1950s was Charlie Dupres. Charlie is remembered by the two runs that still bare his name; Dupres Bowl, and Charlies Bowl, where he was unfortunately killed by an Avalanche on March 11, 1955. Many wardens of the Eagle Chalet have experienced mysterious events, and many locals maintain that the Ghost of Charlie lives on in the lodge. Charlies equipment is displayed in the Eagle Dining Room at Mid Mountain. During the 50s and 60s, access via the road was only possible in converted busses and trucks installed with cat tracks and runner sleds. By 1961 Marmot's first rope tow, constructed from the remains of an old army truck, had been installed on Paradise run.
The First Developments
Toni Klettl became involved at Marmot Basin once the "Yellow" T-bar was installed and development began in 1964. Tony was a Parks Canada employee and being the Warden in charge, he had to oversee all the activities, from cutting out the runs to setting up the Ski Patrol and Avalanche Control Programs. He often mentions the early days of Marmot when the only lift was the T-bar and the only lodge was the Eagle Chalet. Kurt Kiefer was the manager, with his son Wayne as assistant Manager; Tom McCready ran the ski school, here’s an amusing story of Tom’s teaching technique, and Dennis Seeley ran the concession. On the weekends, a Jasper High School boy was hired to stay at the top of the T-bar. Parks Canada hired the ski patrol, cleared out the runs, did the snow packing and the avalanche control, and ploughed out the old road for buses to get to the Upper Chalet. At times there were five Marmot employees and eleven Parks employees working at Marmot Basin.
Marmot Basin Grows
In 1968, the Tranquilizer chair was installed, meaning access from the base area as it now exists. During the 1970s the ski area continued to install new lifts and open new areas to skiing. First was the Caribou Chair, installed in 1971 and originally running from above Parking Lot 4 up to the area where the new Paradise Express chair unloads, but subsequently shortened. Following on from that, the Kiefer T-bar was added in 1974, and the Knob Chair in 1976, giving much more convenient access to the upper mountain areas. The 80s and 90s was a relatively quiet time for the development of the ski area, but in 1990, Marmot Basin installed its first high speed detachable quad chairlift, The Eagle Express.
The journey continues - visit Marmot's Story for a full history of Marmot Basin from the days of Joe right up to the present season.
- Powder Pioneers, Ski Stories from the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains, Chic Scott, Rocky Mountain Publishers.
- Guardians of the Peaks: Mountain Rescue in the Canadian Rockies And Columbia, Kathy Calvert and Dale Portman, Rocky Mountain Publishers.
- Archives Canada: No RCIA 252381
- Shirley Klettl Fonds, Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives. #990.5, 995.18