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Nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, Marmot Basin is one of Alberta's 6 major downhill resorts. Flanked by the mountains of British Columbia to the west, the prairies of Saskatchewan to the east and the State of Montana to the south, Alberta is the fourth largest province in Canada with a population of 3 million. Its larger in size than most US states and is 3 times larger than the UK. Known throughout the world for its excellent skiing facilities, deep dry powder, miles and miles of runs and bright sunny days, Alberta is a skiers' paradise. Marmot Basin is known as "The Big Friendly" and it lives up to its reputation for being a family-friendly resort with an easy, laid back atmosphere and some of the best glade skiing the Rockies have to offer. In common with many ski resorts, Marmot Basin's first wintersports enthusiasts practised cross-country and the resort was named by Joe Weiss who acted as a guide for cross-country skiers from Whistler's Creek via Caribou Ridge. During WW2 British soldiers carried out alpine training here but it was'nt until the 1950's that the first road was built to connect the highway with Marmot Basin. By 1961 Marmot's first rope tow, constructed from the remains of an old army truck, was installed on Paradise run and developments seemed to take off with the resort gaining a licence to operate and more facilities being added yearly. Marmot Basin's nearest town is Jasper, in the heart of the Jasper National Park. Established in 1907, its the largest and wildest of Canada's mountain parks and contains a superb backcountry trail system as well as 10,878 acres of mountain wilderness and the Columbia Icefields, one of the only icefields in the world accessible by road. Internationally renowned for wildlife viewing, it is home to some of North America's rarest animals, including healthy populations of grizzly bears, moose, caribou and wolves. Jasper is one of many communities which can trace it's history back to David Thompson's explorations. In January 1811 he made an epic winter crossing of the Athabasca Pass, the first recorded trip by a European through the Jasper area. This expedition established the fur trade route, subsequently used for decades as the most practical passage overland to the Pacific. The first ever sighting by a white man of a Bigfoot, or "Sasquatch" as they are known locally, was in Jasper. Bigfoot are to the Rockies what the Yeti are to the Himalayas with several mentions of them in Native American folklore. On his travels in this area David Thompson was recorded to have found some strange footprints, fourteen inches long and 8 inches wide, with 4 toes!

Heaven on earth for lovers of unpretentious, untamed skiing with piste borders kept to a minimum, backed up by excellent accommodation and other essential resort amenities, with all the facilities of the town of Jasper nearby. It's possible to hike up to the summit for about 200 vertical metres from the top of Knob chair to 2601m to ski the full 914m vertrical.

Mountain

Marmot Basin has an abundant variety of skiing terrain and a reputation for some of the best glade skiing the Canadian Rockies have to offer. Tree-lined trails, wide open bowls, long gentle runs, steep expert chutes and high alpine snowfields make up this diverse and exciting ski area. There is a friendly, uncommercialised, laid back atmosphere not usually found in such a large resort. Marmot has 75 named trails, 8 lifts including a high speed quad, three day lodges , 1,500 acres of skiable terrain and a longest run of 5.6km. In addition to the lift-served terrain several areas can be accessed via a short hike which will take the adventurous skier into untracked powder filled bowls and gullies. Marmot Basin usually gets 400cm of dry, light powder every season which makes for excellent powder skiing off the groomed runs, through the trees and in the high alpine bowls off the Knob Chair. Charlies Bowl and Dupres Chutes are the two areas most favoured by local powder hounds. Marmot Basion's terrain expanded for the 2003-4 season with the completion of Eagle Ridge Phase 3. Two new bowls opened on Eagle East, known as Sugar Bowl and Birthday Bowl - expanding upper bowl skiing by forty percent. Extensive and selective tree removal also means more glade skiing. The Chalet Slope offers runs for all abilities, including gladed terrain. The remote location of Eagle East compared to the rest of the ski area creates a sense of wilderness and adventure.

Families

Little Rascals Nursery provides supervised daycare for children aged from 19 months up to 6 years. The Centre is open daily between 8.30am and 4.30pm and it is recommended that you make a reservation in advance. Beginners aged 4 to 5 years can sign up for Tiny Tots. This programme has been specially designed to introduce skiing/boarding skills and use of the lifts to beginner children. Class sizes are smaller than usual so the children should get the individual attention needed to get them off to a good start. Its well worth parents handing their kids over to ski school at this stage because they will usually learn more quickly from an instructor who has been specifically trained. Children aged 6 to 12 can join Kids Kamp, a full day lesson programme which is available with a lunch option.

Eating Out

Jasper has dozens of restaurants catering to a wide range of tastes. The hotels offer a variety of restaurants, lounges and bars and there is a wide selection of individual restaurants cafes and quaint coffee houses in town. Cuisine ranges from Canadian, Chinese and French to Greek, Italian, Japanese and Mexican. More than 40% of Canada's world renowned beef is produced in Alberta so its worth trying some here.

Apres

The Athabasca Hotel has the Atha-B Club where you'll find the liveliest dancing in town. Also within the Hotel is O'Shea's, an Irish pub. Whistle Stop at Whistlers Inn is a good pub-type night spot with darts, pool and big-screen sports; and De'd Dog Saloon in the Astoria Hotel, which has internet access, is a favourite with the locals. Fireside Lounge in Marmot Lodge has nightly entertainment. At Jasper Park Lodge, the Emerald Lounge has hearty après-ski snacks, and Tent City Sports Lounge recalls the history of the lodge and has lively entertainment.

Boarding

A new terrain park was opened in February 2000. Located on Marmot Run the new park features tabletops, floaters, big hits and a hip jump. The natural terrain itself is like a giant terrain park with natural bowls and gullies , powder and moguls. Seven of the nine lifts are chairs making access for boarders much easier.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
914m
Ski area
65
Resort height
1704m
Airport
Edmonton
Train station
Jasper
beginner
30%
intermediate
30%
expert
40%