For the first time in 14 years, a new ski area is opening for the 2017-18 season at Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park — and it isn’t for the faint of heart or novice skiers.
The “Tres Hombres” area is a large, north-facing and treeless slope, about 18 hectares in size that until now was out of bounds. It’s advanced and expert off-piste (backcountry) skiing and snowboarding terrain.
“It’s within Marmot Basin‘s leasehold, but we’ve never had it open to the public before,” said Brian Rode, VP of marketing and sales for Marmot Basin, at last week’s season launch.
“It’s all off-piste, it’s all expert terrain. It will be five big runs and this is the longest uninterrupted fall line in the entire ski area.”
The area, accessible from the Paradise quad chair, features all double-black diamond bowls and chutes that descend more than 1,200 vertical feet.
Marmot Basin said Tres Hombres is equivalent to three times the length of Charlies Bowl — another double-black diamond run near the top of the mountain in an area known as “The Knob.”
The Tres Hombres runs have an average slope of 32 degrees, with the steepest being 45 degrees — talk about a leg workout! All five runs end at a trail which leads back to the base of the Paradise chair.
“So it’s big news for skiers and snowboarders — especially the advanced ones, and they’re going to love it. It’s some exciting terrain, that’s for sure.”
The last new terrain to open at Marmot Basin was the Eagle Ridge area in 2003. Rode said it takes a lot of work just to open the existing ski area, where they have access to bring in construction equipment and snow groomers.
“But this particular chunk of mountain, because it’s so steep and because it’s off-piste, we will never get a groomer in there,” he explained.
We have to have a very solid operational plan. That involves, what type of materials do we need? What type of fencing? How many ski patrol, avalanche control? How were they managing it on a day-to-day basis? Because after all, safety is our number one priority.
“So the nature of the terrain is such that it required a lot of work, and now we’ve we completed that work and we’re ready to get it open this year.”
Marmot Basin opened for the 2017/18 season this past weekend. All of the upper runs were open and many lower runs were as well.
Tres Hombres will open for the season once all required fencing and gates are in place and the area deemed safe.
The ski and snowboard facility in western Alberta is the only mountain resort in Jasper. The hill as we know it opened in 1964. It now has seven lifts, including three high-speed quad chairs.
There are 86 runs, with the longest being 5.6 kilometres. Thirty per cent of the runs are novice (green), 30 per cent are intermediate (blue), 20 per cent are advanced (black) and 20 per cent expert (double black.)
WATCH: Roland from AMA Travel joined Mike Sobel to talk about the Marmot Escape card, Sunshine Supercard, Lake Louise Plus card, Resort of the Canadian Rockies card – all of which can save you money at ski resorts in Alberta and B.C. over the course of the season.