The following was written and submitted by Loni Klettl. Loni has always and still does live in Jasper. She is a former Olympian and champion skier. She is a lover of Jasper, the mountains and all things outdoors. Marmot Basin dearly appreciates that Loni has graciously allowed for us to post this first story (there will be more!) and we hope Loni will write something about herself and her personal experiences in Jasper and at Marmot Basin. We will encourage her to do so!
Thought I'd do something fun...it is Marmot Basin's 50th anniversary and since I have never missed a year, thought I would share some stories and photos from the Klettl ski museum.
Part 2: Getting Up There
This is something we can all relate to. Getting up to the ski hill stories often define a winter, make or break friendships, ruin marriages, test the quality of a car and the subsequent lack of power and the poor quality of tires.
Many an innocent journey up to the base of the mountain was and still is saturated with trials, tribulations and disasters which transcend through the decades. No one escapes the trip up to the mountain: we all endure the drive, spilling coffee on our legs, pounding the dash in juvenile agitation because of the perceived gitbags that are going too slow, yelling obscenities at the idiots ahead, losing our minds at the long lineups at the park gate, explosive frustration in the parking lot…
Why do we all endure this grief? Because once the skis are on, it’s called forgive and forget.
From 1964 to 1970, skiers truly suffered The Bus Road, which was the only way to get up to Marmot Basin. No one has fond memories of this, especially me who’s quite prone to motion sickness.
Vehicles were parked at the top of Portal Hill on 93A and all skiers jammed their skis and poles, mish mash into dubious ski racks which were attached with unconventional means to an ugly, uncomfortable beast called a bus.
I was a little kid that was jostled and shoved, enduring many elbow jabs to the eyes and often my packsack would end up in the muddy slop that was called a floor.
The road was narrow, tight and steep, all corners had numbers and pull offs for meetings with oncoming buses. Some corners were so tight that the driver had to use all manly muscle to manhandle the steering wheel, body straining with the effort to manually convince the beast to do a three-point turn. A corroded metal frame with no suspension, seats that were harder than plywood; this ear-splitting, stinky, rickety contraption, lurched, jarred, and belched its way around tight corners, gears screeching with agony and a black cloud of poor quality oil fumes staining the pristine winter air.
With head exploding with dizziness and vomit that was way too close for comfort, I would stumble and stagger out of the beast at the Upper Chalet with Craven A extra long no filter smoke lingering on my scrawny frame. I look with despair at the flat light! I was not alone in my wobbly agony; others had the recognizable sheen of motion-sickness-survival-hell.
I actually had an occasional saviour, in the form of Dad. Parks Canada in the early years at Marmot was in charge of operations. Being the park warden in charge, he got to drive his warden truck up this nightmare; we didn’t care how early in the morning we had to get up.
Once the Marmot Road was completed in the early 1970’s, the journey to the ski hill improved substantially. Miraculously, our skis, butts, ears and dizzy heads healed seemingly overnight and the torture of the bus became a long ago memory clipped to great times of early skiing with friends and family at Marmot Basin.