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Marmot Basin/Jasper

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello I'm looking at Marmot Basin Jasper for next April (if allowed). I'm looking at a package via Crystalski for safety if COVID is still around. I have previously been Banff and skied all 3 resorts in the area. Has anyone done the transfer direct from Calgary from Jasper? Is it non stop 5 hours on a coach? I skied green and blues at Sunshine so is Marmot Basin comparable?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Went a while back, drove from Banff to Jasper in a hire car. It's a long way, took about 4 hours with stops. Marmot Basin is small - we were there for a week which is plenty. You won't find the skiing as extensive as at Sunshine, but the blacks at Eagle East are genuinely challenging. The town itself is 'interesting' - the sort of place where people turn and stare at you when you walk into a bar. It's worth using the ski hosting which is provided by the ski area - we found it very good.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Jasper was our first ski trip in Canada - then went to Banff a few times. The transfer is up to 6 hours, the bus stopped to drop off/pick up some people at Lake Louise. For some added fun, our coach broke down an hour or so after leaving Lake Louise, but there was another following from the later (London) flight, which had room for all of us; we only had to wait at the roadside for about 40-50 minutes. I think we stopped for a supermarket visit at Lake Louise. So any of those things might happen.

Can’t say much about the skiing, because it was years ago and they’ve expanded since. It was good for us at the time - a child, a beginner, a nervous skier and an injured skier, but I’m sure there was more than we used.
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Had a couple of days there this Feb. I enjoy long drives and the transfer from Banff to Jasper down the Icefields Parkway is an incredible drive which should be on everyone's list. I can't speak for the conditions in April, but the road was white over for most of the way and the car was 'lively' with AWD and winter tyres (proper EU winters, not M+S). I was told the alternative, 'bad weather' inland route was not much longer (starting from Calgary).

I really liked Jasper and would prefer over Banff. Plenty of eating choices for a week or more and less commercial, better VFM.

Marmot's skiing is small, possibly too small for me for a week, usual basic north American on mountain facilities. As ever, if conditions are right and you're content heading into the trees, you'd be happy for a lifetime.

Only negative was the town expecting 800 English kids the following week. Happy I dodged that one!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Long way for a tiny resort.
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We did the Crystal package - we were the only ones in the Sundog transfer bus - terrible snow conditions meant it took around 6 hours on the way there - 7 hours return as the conditions had shut down the Icefield parkway. Would I do it again for a week? In a heartbeat - I absolutely loved Jasper.

Its a smallish area but - as you'll have found with Sunshine - the ski anywhere in-bounds means that the same run has infinite different lines. I think you'll find the terrain grading comparable with Sunshine - they also groom some nice wide blacks so you can get some good experience on steeps if you want to make that jump. We were well entertained for a week and would definitely return.

This was my TR
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3198077&highlight=jasper#3198077
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
We went in early February this year with Crystal for a week (had originally planned Europe somewhere, but the Jasper deal was so cheap that we couldn't resist - would have liked to go for longer, but we only had a week of holiday available). We had very similar experiences to SLB79, whose excellent TR inspired me to go in the first place, from transfers to how much we loved it!

It took just over 6 hours on the way there, including a couple of brief stops, when the Icefields Parkway was shut and conditions were not great (was late by that point, especially given the time difference, and most people were just sleeping). We were the only ones on the way back, which felt more like having our own private tour of the Icefields Parkway than a standard transfer - the driver was very knowledgeable and friendly and was telling us about the area/pointing things out as we went - as said above, the scenery is absolutely stunning! Think this took about 4.5 hours (with a couple of stops for photos plus a longer stop for coffee in Lake Louise). There's no getting away from the fact that the transfers are long, but they honestly didn't feel that bad, and I've had just as much transfer faffing going to France with Crystal and having to wait for other flights to get in, dropping people off at other resorts and sometimes even having to change buses, etc.

We really liked the skiing - as said above, the area is fairly small, but it is really crowd free - we never saw a lift queue, and you often feel as if you've got runs to yourself! I've not been to the Banff area so can't compare, but there are some lovely blues and greens, most of which are really wide and tree lined (very few narrow traverses). If you do fancy trying blacks, you can check on the Marmot website to see which ones have been groomed that day, and because it's not that busy, they stay well groomed and don't get chopped up for ages - all of the single black diamonds I tried were also very wide. I've always previously liked large ski areas with lots of variety and a sense of travel/different areas to get to - but absolutely loved it at Marmot nonetheless and would go back any time - the positives for me definitely outweighed any negatives. As Val Desire says, Jasper town is also nice, with a lot of different bars and restaurants (and agree about the non-commercial feel).

The thought has crossed my mind that as long as travel to Canada is allowed, Marmot would make quite a good 'Covid-safe' resort, seeing as it is not generally that crowded and that the lift system consists solely of open chairs (no gondolas etc or even chairlift covers)! I also noticed that it was one of the very last resorts to be forced to close this season.

@Val Desire, out of interest, what exact week were the 800 English kids expected?! Think I'd be looking to avoid that week in future if it's a regular occurrence wink
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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!
Glad you liked Jasper. Banff has the fancy hotels & food, but fancy prices and lots of people too.
UK flights tend to get in late afternoon so you'd not want to drive to Jasper/ you're unlikely to stay awake on a bus.
If I'm going in that direction Banff is a reasonable driving target with jet lag.

Gipfel wrote:
.... The thought has crossed my mind that as long as travel to Canada is allowed, Marmot would make quite a good 'Covid-safe' resort, seeing as it is not generally that crowded and that the lift system consists solely of open chairs (no gondolas etc or even chairlift covers)! I also noticed that it was one of the very last resorts to be forced to close this season...
On Covid-19... I think the smaller places feel inherently safer as they're less busy.

However at the end of last season the smallest places were forced to close along with everything else in BC at least.
The big places went a few days earlier, but that was about all. This season... who knows.
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Gipfel wrote:


@Val Desire, out of interest, what exact week were the 800 English kids expected?! Think I'd be looking to avoid that week in future if it's a regular occurrence wink


Their week would have been w/c Sunday 9th Feb. Can't say if there would be other trips
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Those kids were definitely at Panorama too for family day weekend. Maybe its the UK half term they come for. Although at Pano, they weren't a problem. They filled the lodge first thing and then they went straight out bunny hill.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
As a Brit who works in the Snow school for Marmot in the winter I've done the transfer from Calgary to Jasper many times!

I've found the best way is to stay the night either in Calgary airport or get an hour transfer to Banff and stay the night there as the Sundog bus times don't line up with the incoming flight from Heathrow.

As for the drive itself it's pretty spectacular journey up the parkway and you get to see a lot of amazing things on the ice field parkway. In April you might even get to see some wildlife like bears and mountain goats. I've always had really good experiences with Sundog. In my experience I've always been in comfortable mini-bus style vehicles, a lot more comfortable than packed European coach transfers.

As for Jasper itself it's a Canadian town first and a ski resort second. There are some inconveniences , such as only being access the hill by bus that only goes at certain times and it does cost (or it did last season) unlike the free transfers at Lake Louise. However I manage to ski and teach 120 days a season on the hill without getting bored and rarely ,if ever, stood in a lift queue for more than three minutes. The food on the hill is not the same standard as a French ski resort, I'd suggest bringing a pack lunch!

Jasper can be very cold and it doesn't have huge dumps of snow like you would expect on more westerly resorts, however because of the temperature it doesn't loose its base and I've had some of the best days skiing in April and May. Just don't expect to be skiing slush in a t-shirt!

Obviously I'm biased! And can't comment on traveling to Jasper with a package as a tourist but I wouldn't be (hopefully) heading into my fourth season there if it wasn't worth the journey!
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