My sister Shannon and I feel the humming highway beneath our tires. Jasper National Park pulls us like a magnet, asking us to leave behind our worldly cares for one weekend and bask in its natural wonders. Husbands and children have given us their blessings. Time to be young, free, and yes, a little wild.
Our ski roots run deep. When we were kids, our mom often packed us up for ski escapes in the Canadian Rockies. All grown up, we’re revisiting childhood memories at Marmot Basin. We’ve started careers and families and now it’s time for the skiing sisters to reconnect.
From Edmonton it’s a four-hour journey along Highway 16 to Jasper, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park gates are a magic portal opening to wide valleys and pillowed peaks. Watch for agile mountain goats climbing the cliffs, majestic elk huddled together for warmth, bighorn sheep in their woolly winter coats and massive, wise-eyed ravens.
Jasper townsite is relaxed and real. Stop in for homemade muffins at Bear’s Paw Bakery and sip espresso any coffee connoisseur would approve of at Coco’s Café (also a fantastic spot for vegan, vegetarian, and celiac diets).
Get Moving at Marmot
At Marmot Basin things slow down and speed up at the same time. On one hand, there’s a small-town vibe that makes you feel at home on the slopes. Staff grin as they load you on the chairlift, and fellow riders chat you up, sharing stories of their favourite runs. If you’re worried about snow snobs, you won’t find them at Marmot.
On the other hand, things speed up. As you carve down the mountain, fir trees blur like a deep green paint-stroke. You feel the undulations of the slope and let the multi-million-year-old terrain beneath your skis translate itself through your body. Now this is nature in action.
Shannon and I head to the Eagle Ridge Quad Chair, then absorb Jasper views while racing down Phone Home Gully. Shannon hasn’t skied in a few years, but she’s still a natural. She absorbs moguls and moves like a goddess.
Test your mettle on Eagle East, a row of double black diamond chutes that will make your knees shake, or head up Marmot Peak on the Knob Chair to rise above the trees into the high alpine.
Wine and Dine
Après ski, you have plenty of great restaurants to choose from. Try the Typhoon Noodles or Diabolical Tenderloin at Evil Dave’s. Everything’s a little bit wicked at this locally owned town favourite.
It’s fun to be here as sisters. We know our contagious love for the mountains will enrich our families just like our mom’s did for us. After the huge vertical changes and massive doses of fresh air, my red wine feels sumptuous. Shannon and I clink glasses. Our Jasper ski trip is a chance to reconnect not only with nature, but with each other. We walk to Whistler’s Inn, a landmark hotel on a corner of the main street, and collapse into bed, ready to do it all again tomorrow.