Jasper in January: Winter Done Right.

Let’s face it, Edmonton and most of Northern Alberta is a winter wonderland for upwards of eight months of the year. We can chose to embrace it or run from it. We live in such an advanced society that a person can practically remain in doors or in a vehicle for an entire year without stepping one foot outside. But there is a movement: Edmontonians are choosing to gear up and head out for adventures.  I’ve heard of so many people who are getting into snowshoeing, cross country, winter running, and instead of complaining about the weather, we’re now discussing layers required to embrace the cold!

Jasper in January 07

Deep down, we are all a little adventurous at heart. We seek those events and activities that become vivid and timeless moments. Many of us have chosen to explore Alberta and embrace our natural surroundings. We may chose to exchange one giant trip overseas for multiple weekend excursions peppered throughout the year. We are, after all, a stones throw away from the Rocky Mountains where natural wonders and adventures await. Jasper has been the destination for many of us; from its nostalgic town centre, to awe inspiring backdrops, and incredible opportunities to commune with nature, this park creates a personal connection with all those who venture into it. It is with the idea that we should unplug and live life after a hectic holiday season that Jasper Tourism came up with Jasper in January; a three week festival embracing outdoor activities, local food, and art all found in the National Park. I had the chance to head there during Winterstruck this past January which was a weekend in which Pyramid lake became the location for things like dog sledding, skating, shinny hockey, sleigh rides, and bannock baking.

Jasper in January 02

Winterstruck is for all ages! Everyone was grinning ear to ear as they moved from one activity to the next. With tons of activities, few wait times, and warm weather, everyone was having fun. My biggest goal for the event was to try dog sledding; it’s the combination of my love for K-9’s and my desire to explore that really had me jumping to the front of the line. The happy puppies and the dash across the lake did not disappoint and I’d definitely recommend anyone to try it! If you are looking for an event to sample outdoor activities Jasper in January is the one. Many hotels have also offered discounts around this time of year so you have the chance to head out there for a bit cheaper than normal.

Jasper in January 11 Dog Sledding

 

Snow Shoeing Jasper

I pack my weekends off with a lot of activity so went off on my own and snowshoe in the afternoon. Aside from the ski resorts, much of the park is pretty quiet in January so if you are looking for a bit of peace and quiet, it’s here. I brought my own snowshoes in which were a pair of Tubbs from Campers Village and I’d probably claim that these have been the most comfortable and versatile shoes I’ve worn. The quick twist closure system allowed me to quickly get into and out of the shoe without fumbling around for pull cords and not-so-quick-release tabs that other shoes had. Although the snowshoe lacks the aggressive look of an aluminum framed showshoe the deck is durable and I took it through the ringer. I am not delicate with my equipment. I went over stumps, hill climbs, traveled over frozen river beds, and went almost hips deep in snow and the shoe responded without any issue. The lighter plastic deck also makes longer hikes a little easier with the Tubbs so if you are looking at purchasing a pair of general activity snowshoes at a pretty good price I’d definitely recommend these!

Marmot Basin 01

I wrapped up the weekend by heading to Marmot Basin for skiing. This may be a shock to many of you, but I have never skied before. As a kid my family rarely went out for winter excursions so I wasn’t exposed to skiing or even snowboarding until my later 20’s. So now I am a 32 year old kid. I decided to challenge myself and learn on my own without a guide. I might have fibbed a little when they asked me what my experience was as I was picking up my rental skis for the day. One of the greatest things about Marmot is the diversity in the runs and the length of them too. My first run was all about survival even though it was a green run – I had, what I later learned, was called, a yard sale, where my equipment flew all over the mountain side after flipping ass over teakettle. I’m determined, and very stubborn, whenever I put my mind to learning something, so I hopped back on the chair lift and went at it again. After the second run I actually got the hang of it so I was off to the races and hit as many runs as I possibly could. Marmot also was quite impressive in that the chair lifts had practically no wait time. I was able to get to the bottom of the resort and hop right back on the lift and rest on the chair! I was a bit more adventurous as the day went on so I managed to ride blue (and accidentally a black) runs on Eagle Ridge and the Knob chair, which have incredible views!

Marmot Basin 02

Jasper has always been one of my favourite towns. From adventures that are just outside your door, to the great community that is found in in the area. It is just the right escape away from Edmonton and hopefully you can make it out there some time soon!

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About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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