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TR - Jasper, AB, Canada

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My husband and I had a week in Jasper starting 3rd Feb. Me, intermediate skier. Him, snowboarder spending his first full week on skis (so other than a day at the snowdome learning and a day in awful conditions last year, a beginner!).
We chose Jasper, despite it being a smallish area, due to research suggesting some pretty good, confidence giving beginner terrain. And from our experience of Canada (Banff & Whistler), generally less (zero!) idiots intimidating beginners on green terrain for fear of losing their lift passes!

We booked with Crystal as we couldn’t do it independently cheaper than their offering.
We flew from Heathrow to Calgary (Air Canada - 8 and a half hour flight), then a 6 hour transfer, including a drive up the Icefields Parkway (in bad conditions, it was like something out of Ice Road Truckers – the road was closed a couple of days after…) – I would not recommend hiring a car and taking this drive in winter conditions without plenty of winter driving experience!
I appreciate that this journey isn’t for everyone – especially just for a week – but we both enjoy flying and cope pretty well with jet lag! But it was a LONG day!!

Jasper is a small town (population around 4,500), but despite this, punches above its weight for decent places to eat and grab a drink - we’re more low-key evening folk, but there is a large population of seasonal staff so we saw a couple of clubs advertised – we just didn’t try them out!

The ski hill, Marmot Basin is around 30 mins from Jasper which can be done on a bus ($14 CAD return – unless your package holiday includes this, ours did!).
We didn’t queue once for a lift – there were times when we felt like we were the only people on the mountain (despite us being there for apparently their best powder day in years…)! The scenery was breath-taking, there is no-where else I could compare to it, just awe inspiring.
The green runs were, as we’d hoped, lovely and wide, tree lined and great confidence builders. Quite quickly, we were on some lovely blue runs and by the end of the week, my husband was coming down some groomed Black Diamonds (he took to skiing annoyingly well, I think his snowboard experience really helped!)
Although the mountain isn’t huge, there is a great variety of terrain. In Canada, they don’t groom everything overnight, so the same run on a different day can be a completely different experience. Adding to this that you can ski ALL inbounds terrain, so, whether a marked run or not, if its inbound, its controlled. We didn’t ski anything TOO challenging but I could see some really interesting looking black and double black diamonds and there is loads of lovely tree lined stuff.
Food on the mountain was fine – nothing gourmet or particularly special but good enough.
Lift pass - 6 days for £147 (2 for 1 deal) an absolute bargain!
The transfer back to Calgary airport was 7 hours as the Icefield Parkway was closed.

Jasper was not easy to get to, but completely worth it!!
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@SLB79, nice write up , jasper is just stunning!! We regularly go to western canada for week long trips and have never been disappointed
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Aaargh! Sounds awesome! (7 hour transfer rotten though).

Will book my Banff tickets to Easter in the coming days.
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Interesting report - you certainly packed a lot into a week. A great place to go. Was equally quiet when I was there at Easter, almost 10 years ago. I'm surprised they didn't offer a flight to Edmonton as that would have shortened the transfer a bit.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Dabber, I know people think its too far for a week but we just can't stay away from Canada!
@Orange2000, the worst part of the 7 hour transfer for us is the fact that we missed out on the Icefield Parkway in the light (it was dark when we arrived) - its supposed to be amazing! There's always next time!! Enjoy Banff, we loved it there!
@dw832, we just couldn't find a suitable, direct flight to Edmonton and would rather the long transfer than a change of planes!!
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SLB79 wrote:
Food on the mountain was fine – nothing gourmet or particularly special but good enough.
Lift pass - 6 days for £147 (2 for 1 deal) an absolute bargain!


Nice report!

We were in Banff last Christmas and we have fond memories of the mountain catering, particularly the gravy in which chips would stand upright for hours! Is this a Jasper speciality too? With those lift ticket prices, it would be a winning combination if so.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I believe the London to Edmonton direct flights ended a couple of years ago. I think it was blamed on the downturn in the oil industry.

So the choice is either a long transfer from Calgary or changing flights, which is probably as long. It’s not a lot longer to drive Calgary to Edmonton first though a lot less scenic than the Icefields.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Nice report!

I drove the Icefield Parkway. It's stunning! Stopped by some mountain goats for about 1/2 hr part of the way. Smile

(I purposely picked Easter to have longer daylight)

We based out of Banff, skiing Sunshine/Lake Louise. Did the drive strictly as a sightseeing components of skiing the Banff Trio. Didn't ski at Jasper. But did go visited a hot spring. Smile
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@The Flying Snowplough - yep, Poutine is most certainly available in Jasper!! We had it with chilli on the mountain - so chips, gravy, cheese curds and chilli - sounds disgusting but actually delicious!!
@TommyJ - all of the locals we spoke to said they'd rather fly from Calgary and have the longer transfer!
@abc - we will definitely get back to drive the Icefields Parkway in the not too distant future!! We'll almost certainly do a non-winter trip to the Rockies soon...
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@Dabber, @SLB79,

SLB79 wrote:
Would I do it again for a week? In a heartbeat - I absolutely loved Jasper.


Great stuff! I'm pleased to hear that others (like us, who have done so about a dozen times) are prepared to go Transatlantic for a week. As you know, it's well worth the effort - and certainly beats not going! Very Happy
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TommyJ wrote:
I believe the London to Edmonton direct flights ended a couple of years ago. I think it was blamed on the downturn in the oil industry.
So the choice is either a long transfer from Calgary or changing flights, which is probably as long. ...
You can of course fly into Kamloops which is a slightly shorter drive up highway 5. Oil's problems aren't likely to change anytime soon I suppose.

SLB79 wrote:
... out of Ice Road Truckers – the road was closed a couple of days after…) – I would not recommend hiring a car and taking this drive in winter conditions without plenty of winter driving experience!
There's some reality TV thing set on the Coquihalla.

All those roads get closed now and then in winter, it's expected. Usually there are alternative routes, but worst case you can just wait a day and it'll be fine.

The highway cams are a good way to get a realistic snow report - you can tell if there's fresh, and the size of the banks at the roadside tell you what the base is like.
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