Let it snow — at Marmot!

The recent heavy snowfall resulted in mayhem on roads, school closures and countless other problems, but as I stood perched near the top of Marmot Mountain, I was no longer thinking about the harrowing car ride that had brought me to Jasper the previous evening.

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The recent heavy snowfall resulted in mayhem on roads, school closures and countless other problems, but as I stood perched near the top of Marmot Mountain, I was no longer thinking about the harrowing car ride that had brought me to Jasper the previous evening.

With 38 cm of fresh powder and a sparse number of skiers on the mountain to enjoy it, I was feeling pretty content as I contemplated the options for getting down the mountainside on skis.

Marmot Basin ski resort is noted for its laid-back atmosphere and unpretentious glade skiing, but with the abundant snowfall this season, Marmot is rapidly developing a reputation for its excellent powder bowls.

Many skiers believe that powder is the ultimate ski or snowboard experience, so the fresh snowfall was welcomed enthusiastically by most of the skiers and boarders on the mountain last weekend.

If you haven’t been to Marmot recently, you may be surprised not only by the amount of powder, but also by the number of improvements that have taken place at the resort.

“Marmot Basin is a first-class skiing experience and we’re constantly working to make it better,” said Dave Gibson, Marmot’s president and CEO. “

Building a first-class ski resort in a national park is definitely a challenge, but we have worked hard to develop a great working relationship with Parks Canada. Over the past nine years, more than $18 million has been invested in upgrades to the ski resort and we have more improvements planned.”

With warmer temperatures predicted for this weekend, the 2011 ski season is looking very positive for Marmot Basin. Unlike the rest of us, the staff and skiers at the resort won’t even mind if the snow just keeps coming.

Jasper in January

What started out as a party to celebrate Marmot Basin’s 25th anniversary has become one of the biggest festivals in the Canadian Rockies and it is now in its 22nd year.

Over the past two decades, the Jasper in January festival has grown and flourished and organizers expect this year’s festival to be one of the best ever.

“The 2011 festival will feature an eclectic lineup of new and exciting events as well as annual favourites,” said Anastasia Martin-Stilwell of Tourism Jasper.

“All of the great festival activities and exciting outdoor winter pursuits combined with the special prices being extended by hotels, restaurants and Marmot Basin make this the perfect time to enjoy an authentic Rocky Mountain winter getaway to Jasper,”

Between now and Jan. 30, visitors to Jasper can enjoy a variety of free activities along with deep discounts on accommodations, dining and recreation.

The family street party on Jan. 22 will likely be the highlight of the festival with free face painting, live music, street performers, a kids’ maze, an outdoor dance, a barbecue, crafts and many other activities.

This will be followed up by a “walk of lights” parade and fireworks.

If you are thinking about attending the Jasper in January festival, consider some of the following highlights:

Events:

• Today — The Fur Ball, Jasper Activity Centre dinner and dance, 5:30 p.m.

• Sunday — Marmot Basin Scavenger Hunt, Marmot Basin, all day

• Monday and Jan. 24 — Parks Canada Wolf Howl Presentation, Yellowhead Museum, 7 p.m.

• Jan. 21 — Chile Cook-off, Jasper Activity Centre, 6 p.m.

• Jan. 22 — ATCO Family Street Party, 6 to10 p.m.

• Jan. 22 — ATCO Walk of lights and fireworks, procession at 9 p.m., fireworks at 930 p.m.

• Jan. 23 — Polar Bear dip, Lake Edith, 1 p.m.

• Jan. 23 — Charity Moonlight Skate, Jasper Park Lodge, 6 p.m.

• Jan. 27 — Taste of the Town, Jasper Activity Centre, 4 to 10 p.m.

• Jan. 28 — Wine in Winter, Chateau Jasper, 7 p.m.

• Jan. 29 — Snow Ball Grand Finale Gala, Papa George’s Restaurant, 7 p.m.

• Jan. 30 — Free Matinee, Despicable Me, Chaba Theatre, 1:30 p.m.

Discounts

• Marmot Basin — Day passes at Marmot Basin will cost $56 plus GST during Jasper in January. This represents almost 25 per cent savings. Marmot is also offering two for one group ski or snowboard lessons. Jasper in January deals at Marmot run from now until Jan. 30. (www.skimarmot.com)

• Sawridge Inn — 3-4-2 Deal: Get three night’s accommodation and six lift tickets for $260 per person or get one night accommodation, lift ticket, and breakfast for $121 per person. (1-888-729-7343)

• Cassios Italian Restaurant — three courses off the regular menu for $35. (www.cassios.ca)

• Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge — 20 per cent off the best available rate. (www.fairmont.com)

• Best Western Best in the West Bed and Breakfast package — $69 per person per day. (1-800-661-1933)

• There are many other hotel packages and deals. For more information on Jasper in January events and discounts, visit the official website at www.JinJ.ca.

MagicBus

Driving on winter roads is one of the most difficult aspects of a winter ski trip. If you’d like to leave the driving to someone else, consider taking the MagicBus from Red Deer to Lake Louise.

The bus leaves every Saturday from Red Deer with the option to stay one day or to add an overnight hotel and ski for two days. Bus transfers and a single day lift ticket will cost $129 per adult or $119 per student. Two-day package prices depend upon the hotel selected.

The MagicBus also has a Weekender package to the Jasper on Jan. 21 to 23 from Edmonton. The package features bus transportation from Edmonton, two nights accommodations, transportation to the ski resort, and two lift tickets. Rates start at $395 per person.

Debbie Olsen is a Lacombe-based freelance writer. If you have a travel story you would like to share or know someone with an interesting travel story who we might interview, please email: DOGO@telusplanet.net or write to: Debbie Olsen, c/o Red Deer Advocate, 2950 Bremner Ave., Red Deer, T4R 1M9

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