Do you like the idea of skiing in the Canadian Rockies? Well, there is a ski resort in Jasper called Marmot Basin, and it is truly fantastic! Imagine ridiculously beautiful mountain views in all directions, slopes that are not particularly busy and terrain that is varied enough to challenge skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. It is basically snow-heaven, and it’s less than 30 minutes drive from Jasper.
Back in 2018 when we first started to learn to ski, if you had told me one day I’d be good enough to go skiing in the Rockies, I probably would not have believed you. I did have to stop several times to take in the fantastic views while pinching myself that a balance-challenged, rubbish skier like me can still see those amazing views AND ski down so many epic slopes!
Ski Jasper – Marmot Basin overview
Jasper only has one ski resort, Marmot Basin, but it is fantastic, so you won’t mind! It has the highest base elevation of any ski resort in the Rockies at 1,698m. The vertical drop is a whopping 914m, so you can swish down from 2,612m-1,698m. That means some runs are out of the trees and give you amaaaazing views of the surrounding epic mountain landscapes. There are 7 different lifts, including 3 high speed quads and a magic carpet for newbies.
There are 91(!) named runs, with about one third for beginners, one third for intermediate, and the rest for advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders.
How to get to marmot Basin:
It’s a pretty easy to reach from Jasper. It took less than half an hour to drive from Jasper. Alternatively, there is a shuttle bus from Jasper to the ski resort. There are also shuttles available for day trips from Edmonton, and from Edmonton and Calgary International airports.
There is a cafeteria, a shop and washrooms in the lodge at the base of the mountain. Then, there is a second chalet lodge half up the mountain.
$102 ($82 for half a day)
It is pretty easy (and quick) to rent equipment. You can rent skis, boots and poles (or a snowboard and boots) for $46.75.
We had our own boots, so we just rented skis and poles.
Marmot Basin Map:
You can see a map of the slopes below, or download one from the resort’s website here.
Ski Jasper- Getting started
We are used to arriving early whenever we go skiing near Vancouver or Whistler. We arrived half an hour before the lifts were due to open, but there were hardly any people around. This meant it took no times at all to rent ski equipment and buy our lift tickets.
Then, suddenly there was a line of cars and a whole bunch of people arrived with just minutes to spare before the ski lifts started. Still, the photo below is the crowd before the ski lifts opened. It wasn’t bad at all, and we were up at the top of the mountain within minutes.
Spring Skiing in Jasper at Marmot Basin
One of the best things about skiing in Jasper, is the long season that lasts from November until May. In 2019, spring skiing continued until May 5th. We visited in the middle of April, when so we’d already had our final days in Whistler and on Cypress Mountain. It’s very cool (literally) to be able to drive east and ski a bit more in the Rockies!
Spring Skiing Conditions
I looove skiing in spring for the sunny days on the slopes. However, I find the conditions can be more challenging, with hard ice at the top of the mountain and slushy snow at the base. Jasper seems to get quite different snow to the coastal mountains we are used to near Vancouver. On average, Marmot Basin has less than half the annual snow compared to Whistler, but the powder they do get is drier so really fun for snow-sports!
We were incredibly lucky as there had been fresh powder the night before we arrived, so although it was spring, the conditions were pretty good! It was a perfect day to visit Jasper’s Ski Resort.
The weather was beautiful, but the mountain was in shadow when we first arrived, so it was a little icy. Everything looked better a couple of hours later in the sun.
Marmot Basin – Green runs
If you arrive when there is powder, Marmot Basin must be a fantastic place to learn to ski. The green runs are long, wide and not crowded at all. Most of the green slopes are in the lower part of the mountain, so this means you get glimpses of the Rockies through tunnels of trees.
However, newbies want the best high-elevation views too! There are a few green runs at higher elevations, that will allow beginners to ski down from close to the top of the mountain.
All the green runs had been freshly groomed, so they had that bumpy corduroy-style snow. However, I found some areas quite tough and icy early in the morning when the mountain was in shadow and the snow had not yet warmed up. Then at the end of the day, the lower-elevation slopes started to feel a bit slushy, which can also be a bit of a challenge for new skiers. The most fun green runs were the ones higher up the mountain (mentioned above) as the snow was a little more forgiving up there.
Marmot Basin – Blue Runs
There are sooo many fun intermediate slopes in Jasper! Once we had warmed up, and I realized that skiing in the Rockies is not actually harder than skiing near Vancouver, we moved onto more of the blue runs. There are great options from each of the quad chairlifts, so we were able to explore almost the entire mountain.
The most fun area for me (and not just because of the name!) was the Knob chair, with it’s Knob Traverse. It was incredibly beautiful and great fun. A close second was the Solace run from the Eagle Ridge quad chair. I love that one for the epic views.
Marmot Basin – Black Diamond Runs
Okay, so I am not going to lie, Black Diamond runs can be pretty scary for me. Marc has got to the point where he is up for trying anything, but I am always a bit nervous when heading onto black runs. Still, I know that I *can* do some of them, I just need to give them a go! I started off with knob hill and knob bowl (as they are not too long, and they looked possible-ish from the chairlift.) Then as they were not too bad, that helped me build up my confidence to try more.
Best Black Diamond Runs for newbies
Knob hill and Knob bowl:
Try these because they are short and not too hard. The only problem is they are under the chairlift, so if (when) you fall over, people may be watching.
Turn left at the top of the knob chair lift for this one. It is bumpy and steep, but the snow is so soft up at that elevation, that it’s doable. It’s great practice for other mogul-filled slopes. You can see this from the photo above. 🙂
This is VERY steep, but during our visit there half the slope was groomed, so it was not much scarier than steep blue runs. You can also challenge yourself to try the bumpy moguls on the edges of the slope.
Milk Run and Highway 16:
These both start at the top of Canadian Rockies Express quad chair. They are steep, but not particularly technical.
Kiefer’s Dream and Whyte Avnue:
Argh! I found all the black diamond runs from the Paradise quad chair pretty terrifying, but this was the least steep option to ski down that side of the mountain. If you do this, try it in the morning, as by the afternoon, it was both steep and icy. I had to take this slowly and stop a couple of times as my heart was beating sooo fast from adrenaline.
Marmot Basin – Double Black Diamond Runs
Heh! These are not quite my level! I found the Diamond Runs more than scary enough. Still, if you are an expert skier, there are two whole sections of the mountain that you will have to yourself as all the scaredy-cats like me can’t cope with them!
Ski Jasper – Food options
The food at Marmot Basin isn’t bad. There is a cafeteria and a cafe at the lodge at the base of the mountain. They have basic fast food like burgers, chili and sandwiches. I went for a veggy burger and it filled me up and got me ready to go back out on the slopes. It’s not the best, or the worst thing I’ve tried in a ski resort!
Watch out for slushy snow!
I fell down a couple of times on the black runs, I even did some kind of impressive fall that left me upside down! We skied as soon as the resort opened, and my brother came to pick us up just after the lifts closed (thanks George!) Mostly, I kept my balance when zooming around the Marmot Basin. That is until my final run of the day (and of the season!)
The problem with skiing in spring is that in the late afternoon, the snow starts to melt at the base of the mountain, and becomes all slushy and slide-y. I had been taking my final run of the day slowly, drinking in the amazing views and enjoying the sensation of sliding down the mountain. But, alas, right on the “home run” slope, when I was nearly back at the lodge, I changed track to avoid some swerving children, and the change of direction sent me flying in the slushy snow. Doh! I finished my ski season with a pretty impressive bruise and slightly wounded pride.
Anyway, despite my bruise, skiing in Jasper is blooming fun in the spring!
What do you think? Do you fancy a day in the snow in Jasper as well? Click the pins below to save them to your own pinterest board.