Tres, Tres, Tres Massive
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Jasper, AB – Snow sloughs over the hump of the large cliff I’m standing above, trickling down over the rocks below. I wait poised on the shoulder of a spiny chute dropping into the new Tres Hombres area, via the second gate off Marmot Basin’s Paradise area.
The entrance is guarded by large Rockies granite slab on either side - steep, narrow and no mistakes allowed. Straight-line through these jagged stone sentries and you’re spit out onto a single-lane powder freeway falling right to the boundary below.
No point thinking about it too long. I give myself a three count and drop in. Rock rips past my peripherals as snow blows up around me, heart pumping adrenaline as the slight, tingling edge of fear gives way to elation.
“I’ve been staring at that forever, especially that windlip,” said Chris Peel, after we dropped in. The former Jasper freestyle coach and co-owner of local shred shop Freewheel Cycle, there’s not much if anything Peel hasn’t skied on the mountain.
With five new runs opening onto chutes, bowls and cliff drops spread buffet-style across a 45-acre, northern face off the backside of the ski area, Tres Hombres offers over 1,200 vertical feet of steep skiing – the longest uninterrupted fall line riding on the mountain. It’s far from being the only advanced area on the mountain, however, 40% of the hill’s terrain is rated advanced to expert.
“Marmot has its share of steeps and rockier terrain and it’s really accessible, often just a short hike or traverse off the chairlift,” Peel adds, listing classic favourites like Charlie’s Bowl, Eagle East, the Knob and Cornice.
All four are familiar to me, as the scenes of some of my favourite skiing moments over the last 15 years, but the lure of the unexplored and the untamed draws me back to Tres again and again. Nearing the bottom of another epic descent, I find myself poking around blind drops and corners, scouting the next line, and the next - and knowing that this new favourite will keep me occupied for a while to come.