Skiing in Jasper
Located on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, Marmot Basin is a natural basin covered in very dry powder on its alpine bowls, while its lower slopes are tree-lined and more sheltered from the cold winds.
Marmot Basin-Jasper Ski Area Overview
Jasper’s northerly latitude – i t’s the most northerly ski resort in Canada – means it can get extremely cold with temperatures plummeting to 12˚F (-11˚C) in December and even -40˚F (-40˚C) in January so be warned. The natural bowl area is dominated by Marmot Peak at 8,570 feet (2,612 m), linked to Caribou Ridge (7,525 feet/2,293 m) along one face, and to Marmot 2 at 8,300 feet (2,530 m) along another ridge called The Saddle.
Beyond Marmot 2 is Peveril Peak at 8,793 feet (2,680 m). Marmot 2 then descends down to Cornice at 7,484 feet (2,281 m) to the newly opened Eagle Ridge. The latter development contains Eagle East and Chalet Slope, with 20 new trails created by selectively removing hundreds of trees from the two mountain faces on Eagle Ridge. These developments have significantly improved Marmot Basin’s high-end terrain, and have opened up some of the best adventure terrain in the Rockies. Together, these faces make up over 1,500 acres (608 ha) of skiable terrain, along 84 trails, and 3,000 feet (914 m) of vertical.
Marmot offers an amazing variety of terrain for all levels of skier or rider-the terrain is pretty evenly split between novice, intermediate, advanced, and expert trails-from high alpine, powder-filled bowls and immaculately groomed trails through to beautifully spaced gladed trails through the trees. The longest trail is 3.5 miles (5.6 km). However, not all the areas are lift-served. You have to hike and traverse some distance from the Knob chairlift (the highest) past the Saddle to gain access to Peak Run and other summit trails.
But wherever you are on the mountain, you can see the whole basin from any single vantage point, and there are consistently spectacular vistas of Jasper National Park’s surrounding mountain peaks, as well as the beautiful Athabasca Valley spread out below the ski area. Marmot also remains one of the least crowded resorts of its size and has one of the best lift-capacity-to-skier ratios in North America. The Day Lodge at Marmot is called Caribou Chalet and is located at 5,590 feet (1,704 m), while the highest lift ascends to approximately 8,200 feet (2,500 m) giving a vertical drop of 3,000 feet (914 m).
Beginner Skiing in Marmot-Basin Jasper
The benefit for beginners at Jasper Marmot Basin is that each lift accesses at least one beginner trail, which makes it great for family and mixed ability groups and means that beginners can get to the upper reaches of the mountain.
There are three ski lifts at the base serving most of the lower-level terrain that beginners can use after they have mastered terrain from the School House T-bar. You can even head up to Caribou Ridge for an above the tree-line thrill where a wide trail called Basin Run carries you back to the lower slopes. Novice trails called Easy Street and Sleepy Hollow (on Chalet Slope off Eagle Ridge) also take you down from some distance and with superb views from the top. Tranquilizer is another easy cruise lower down the mountain.
Intermediate Skiing in Marmot-Basin Jasper
Show Off and Dromedary trails are good for intermediates and, higher up, any of the blue or black diamond trails off Chalet Slope are great gladed trails.
Perhaps the most challenging trail for intermediates is Paradise – long and with a variety of fall-lines and terrain features above Marmot’s mid-mountain Paradise Station. Basically every lift in the resort has an intermediate way down, even The Knob.
Punch Bowl is another trail to try out at this level. The Knob Traverse below Marmot Peak takes you high on the mountain where you’ll have incredible views. Fast intermediates will cover the groomed trails in under a day and will need to progress to ungroomed blacks otherwise they are likely to become bored.
Advanced & Expert Skiing in Marmot-Basin Jasper
Expert skiers in Jasper should head for Chalet Slope, Eagle East and the Knob chair area which offer challenging skiing including steep and deep powder trails. Cat-skiing and heli-skiing are also available.
Chalet Slope and Eagle East are tough, due to their northeasterly aspect which holds the snow really well for powder skiing. Eagle Ridge is a mixture of open bowls (with even one long novice trail) cascading down into tree-lined gullies.
The Knob Chair takes you to the highest lift-served terrain and from the top of that lift you have to hike the last part up to Marmot Peak. Peak Run awaits -or drop into the fine powder in the massive Dupres Bowl, with Dupres Chute dividing it from Charlie’s Bowl and Wendy’s Choice which is ludicrously steep and stays untracked longer.
The Chutes at the Knob and Charlie’s Bowl are also challenging and most of this area is double black diamond terrain. Chalet Slope has several steep sections with lots of powder through the trees. Rope closures indicate the area boundary and there are only two points of access into the backcountry from the ski area.
Snowcat and heliskiing are on offer also: the cat will take you to untracked powder on bowls and glades with trails to 3,000 feet (900 m) vertical for intermediate and advanced skiers. The heliski locations are some distance away: two hours from Jasper with Robson Helimagic (Valemount, B.C.) or three hours away at Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing.
Boarding & Freestyle in Marmot-Basin Jasper
Boarders have to hike to reach Jasper Marmot Basin’s best slopes, but the effort is well rewarded.
All lifts and trails are open to boarders and it’s a carver’s paradise with excellent trails and different pitches, including the steep Dromedary and Spillway back to base. Eagle Ride with Eagle East and Chalet Slope will beckon with a real backcountry feel as you drop into vertigo-inducing traverses. But watch out for boundary signs funnelling you back toward the trails or you’ll have a long hike out.
Marmot’s Terrain Park on Marmot Run in the upper area of the mountain has nearly doubled in size and includes several man-made features including tabletops, spines and rails. It’s very easy to get around with a significant amount of fall-line terrain reducing the need to walk, hike, or push your snowboard to the lifts.