New expert terrain at Marmot debuts in the next few weeks
When ZZ Top released its seminal album Tres Hombres in 1973, there would have been no way to predict its influence would reach way up into the Canadian Rockies.
By the mid-’70s ski bums in Jasper had adopted the album’s title as the name of a particularly sweet and steep area at Marmot Basin. They would duck the boundary ropes to access the area when resort officials weren’t looking.
Tres Hombres slope remained closed but the name still appeared on Marmot’s trail maps for decades, helping the area become the stuff of local folklore.
This season, Marmot is opening up the legendary and previously out of bounds area to the public for the first time, and as an homage to those that pioneered the area for more than four decades, the name Tres Hombres has been resurrected.
“From what I’ve heard it was the album of choice for the group that would poach the area back in the ‘70s,” says Erin Reade, a sales and marketing executive at Marmot. “This name is just a tip of the hat to that bygone era.”
Tres Hombres is a treeless, 18 hectare, north-facing aspect with an average pitch of 32 degrees and steepest portions up to 45 degrees. It’s located on the extreme east side of the resort to the skiers left of the Paradise Chair.
There will be five marked runs in Tres Hombres—three rated as black diamond and two rated double black diamond. Obviously, it will be for advanced skiers and boarders only.
If the hype is to be believed, Tres Hombres should add more advanced terrain to Marmot, a commodity the resort lacks, although it loathes to admit.
With 367 metres of vertical drop, it will easily become the longest uninterrupted fall line on the mountain, dwarfing other advanced areas at Marmot like Charlie’s Bowl by three times.
“Locals have been eyeing up the area for years,” Reade says. “It’s never been open to the public before so it really something new for us.”
Accessing the area will be done through gates, the first of which will be above the top of the Paradise Chair. A total of five gates will keep access to the area limited and controlled. The exit out of Tres Hombres will be via a path that eventually hooks up with the Caribou Knoll Trail, which takes you back to the base area. A round trip should take about half an hour.
It’s the first new terrain Marmot has opened since the Eagle Ridge area in 2003.
The opening of Tres Hombres comes at a cost, as it has resulted in the complete closure of the “outer limits,” an area that previously was not part of the official ski area but could be accessed from the top of Paradise Chair and was within the resort’s lease.
It’s part of a reconfiguring of leasehold areas which will see Marmot reducing its lease area by 18 percent. This will exchange part of the Whistler’s Creek area, which Parks Canada desires for wildlife and conservation, for areas the resort desires to use as skiable terrain.
The same such reconfiguring is also happening in Banff National Park and resulted in the opening of the Via Ferrata climbing routes on the cliffs above Mt. Norquay in 2014. Lake Louise Ski Resort will also be opening new terrain in the next few years as it changes its leasehold area.
For this year, Marmot is in the spotlight with the most anticipated new terrain opening in Canada.
The five runs new runs have not yet been named but it’s doubtful any will have as cool a moniker as Tres Hombres. Let’s hope the terrain is as cool as the name.