Lisa Lubin – A Short Ski History
I’m not sure I could ever really say I am a skier. I went skiing for the first time when I was maybe 12 or so when our cousins came to New Jersey and took us to Shawnee Mountain in Pennsylvania. I can’t even recall the skiing part or how I did. I was likely on my butt a good part of the time. My next ski trip wasn’t until about seven years later when I was in college and went with a friend to a nice ‘hill’ in North Carolina for a day of skiing on Appalachian Mountain. Again, can’t even recall what it was like. Man, I’m getting old.
One more time in North Carolina with TV friends…and then it was probably 10 years until I started going about once a year and getting a bit better. Thanks to my job as a TV producer I was lucky to produce a travel program on skiing in Aspen/Snowmass (and was able to have private lessons and ski myself) and then another year we did a show from Copper Mountain and Winter Park. I also went to Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and, one of my favorites, Telluride, with lots of nice, wide groomed trails through beautiful pines (a bit more down to earth and in a real town). So basically nearly skiing only in Colorado.
Altitude with No Attitude
Now, I’ve had my first skiing experience in the Canadian Rockies and well, damn! It was nice. If you love glitzy resort towns, this is not your bag. But if you like huge, jagged mountains, peaceful, awe-inspiring vistas, and down-to-earth people, Jasper, Alberta and Marmot Basin is the place.
Just twenty minutes outside of town, Marmot Basin is big, but not so big that you are making decisions all day: which trail, which mountain, which lift, which bar for après ski. When I’m on vacation (and I mean real vacation, not my ‘travel job’), I like a little less choice and thus fewer decisions to make. This is what I loved about Marmot Basin. Oh, and of course, it’s gorgeous. There are plenty of trails for all levels, but not so many that you’re staring at the trail map until your eyes glaze over.
This year, Marmot Basin, located inside Jasper National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site, celebrates fifty years of skiing. Established in 1964, it is now hardly recognizable from its early beginnings. Since the days when Parks Canada first allowed the development of the ski hill and the ‘Yellow’ T-bar was installed, Marmot Basin’s 1,675 acres of superior ski terrain covered in the finest Rocky Mountains’ powder snow, has become a first choice for generations of snow-seekers, year after year.
There are 86 runs, a 3,000 vertical foot drop, and a lift capacity of close to 12,000 skiers per hour on eight lifts. The runs are well-balanced too — 30 percent novice, 30 percent intermediate, 20 percent advanced, and 20 percent expert. I enjoyed nearly all the greens with a few hints of blue mixed in. I enjoy skiing and soaking in the quiet and not fearing for my life on any steep hills.
My ski instructor, Eileen, and her husband are retired and live here during the winter each year to enjoy the beauty and teach ski lessons. After skiing here, I can see why. The jagged peaks of the Canadian Rockies are stunning. And Marmot lets you appreciate it all no matter at which level you are. Every ski lift has a green, beginner trail to take even if you go all the way to the top of the highest lift. I loved that.
The best part? It never gets nearly as crowded here as any of the resorts I’ve ever been to. A Monday was an awesome day to ski with no lines, no crowds, and practically a whole mountain to myself. But any day it’s great, as it is one of the least crowded ski areas of its kind in all of North America.
After a morning lesson and some afternoon runs, Sherry Ott and I enjoyed a cold beer on the rooftop deck of the Caribou Chalet and then caught the easy shuttle bus back to town.
Effortless. That’s how I like it.
Disclosure: During my time in Jasper, I was working on a campaign as part of Navigate Media Group and was a guest of Tourism Jasper. As always, all opinions are my own.