Excitement at Marmot Basin mounts for installation to begin this spring of the longest high-speed quad in the Alberta Rockies. "At the end of April, it's full speed ahead towers, drive station, cable, rope, and hanging chairs," Brian Rode, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, told OnTheSnow.com.

The new chair will not add to the leasehold area of the resort, but will permit access to terrain previously only reached by hikers. "It's within the resort's current footprint and already being skied," Rode pointed out, which is one of the reasons Parks Canada approved the lift. The agreement also included Marmot giving an unused section of their leasehold back to Parks Canada-a portion recognized as potential caribou habitat. "It's a win for the environment, and win for skiers," added Rode.

Preparatory work last fall, such as installing the power line, set the resort up for installation of the new $8 million Leitner Poma that will carry skiers and snowboarders to the top of Caribou Ridge in 7.5 minutes-a ride that currently requires two lifts. The improved infrastructure will scuttle both the old Tranquilizer double chair and the Kiefer T-bar.

Marmot Basin must guarantee no net negative environmental impact with the new lift installation. "When we shut down at end of April, anything we can move over snow we'll do to avoid impacting the soil and vegetation," said Rode. "After snow melts, we have to bring it in by air."

Marmot is the only resort of the four Banff and Jasper National Park ski areas that has completed hammering out guidelines with Parks Canada for its future development. "What makes this interesting is the fact that we operate within a national park, and we have a very transparent collaborative approach with Parks Canada," said Rode.