Jasper, Wide Open
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Alberta’s north is the perfect winter wonderland setting for all kinds of snowy outdoor recreation: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, sledding, and it's home to seven ski hills! Follow along with us and don’t forget to tag #SkiNorthAB to tell us what you’ve discovered.
JASPER, AB - Fresh snow on T-Bar ridge beckons as Manu Loir-Mongazon and Jailin Bertolin drop their skis and breathe in the view. Below them awaits the white ballroom. Out beyond, a ring of stoic granite dance partners wait in the wings under endless blue sky.
That wide open, untouched feel is what attracts skiers like Loir-Mongazon and Bertolin to Marmot Basin in Jasper, AB. For them, and others like them, the lack of lines, crowds and general hassle kicks the ski day off right and keeps the vibe going strong. And, of course, fewer crowds also means fewer tracks.
“For people who want to be on their own in the great outdoors, there are still way better opportunities in Jasper than most places I know,” says Loir-Mongazon. “I find Marmot so quiet. You don’t waste any time in line ... so it’s some of the best value and some of the most skiing you can get in a day.”
From parking lot to summit, breathing in the solitude and pristine beauty of Jasper National Park, it can take you as little as 20 minutes. If you’re smart, you can even cut down on that time (and cost) by grabbing an Escape Card and pre-purchasing your lift tickets.
Marmot’s natural basin funnels skiers back down to a single area at the base, making it easy for skiers and riders of different abilities to reconnect throughout the day. But if you want to avoid the busier areas, the speedy distribution into the upper mountain means you can stay up high and away from the collectors as long as you like.
When it’s time to drop down for a bite or a break, the parking lots situated above the base give you ski-in, ski-out access. Or for a more luxurious experience, in 2020-21 Marmot Basin introduced new Vegas-style cabanas on the upper deck at the main lodge, complete with warming lamps, propane firepits and table service.
“It creates an atmosphere,” says Bertolin. “There’s a sense of privacy and coziness that I like. I always prefer to be outside and warm.”
For Loir-Mongazon, though, it’s all about lift-to-ski ratio. As part of his job at Totem Ski Shop in Jasper, he is here today to test the new Salomon fleet, and he intends to put the skis through their paces.
After maxing out their ski day, the pair decide they still have enough juice and daylight for a fatbike ride, so they head for Pyramid Lake. Just a 15 minute drive up the bench from town, the lake is a hub of activity. Skaters circle the ice while couples walk their dogs along the snowy shoreline.
It doesn’t take long, though, to get away from the central gathering areas. Fatbiking is Bertolin’s regular jam, and she paces the ride.
“It doesn’t matter how busy and buzzing town might look, there’s only one or two spots that will be busy,” says Loir-Mongazon. “Push to the next trailhead or the next parking lot and you can find quiet within five minutes.”
The sun is nestling into the peaks as Bertolin and Loir-Mongazon arrive at a glowing fire, stoked by Michael Lodge of Wild Current Outfitters. Juicy strawberries, freshly baked squares and hot chocolate are waiting for them.
As the fire crackles, Bertolin smiles, “Being outside and comfortable, with good food and a view of the mountains is pretty ideal in my view of the world.”
From summit, trail or fireside, finding those perspectives and relishing them is the lure of a winter visit to Jasper.
WHEN YOU GO
- Check our #SkiNorthAB Experience Series for package deals and great rates on hotels, dining and activities.
- Grab an Escape Card to pre-purchase lift tickets and save money.
- Don’t have the gear? Grab what you need for a Jasper adventure - fatbikes, snowshoes or skates - from the rental cabin at Pyramid Lake Resort and hit the trails right from there.