[R229R, Marmot Basin] began accumulating snow before the end of September, enough to excite the locals and prompt the ski resort to announce its opening day for the season. Families can plan ahead to ski or ride with discounts at the resort this winter.

Marmot saw its earliest opening ever last fall and broke records for attendance by the end of the season. Snow before the end of this September caused the resort to announce that it plans to open on the same day this year-Nov. 11.

A combination of expanded snowmaking on the resort's lower mountain terrain and natural snowfall contributed to the early opening last winter. "We can open the lower mountain with snowmaking only, if it comes down to that," Vice President Brian Rode told us, "and we plan on starting snowmaking mid-October."

Families can take advantage of discounts at Marmot to get on the slopes throughout the season. The Jasper Family Snow Card, which costs $49.95 CAN, gives a 20 percent discount off regular priced lift tickets purchased at the Marmot Basin ticket windows. The entire family also gets free lift tickets on their sixth day.

Other discounts come with the card, too. Families can get 10 percent of rentals, food, drinks, lessons, and daycare. Discounts of 25-50 percent are available to cardholders with advanced reservations at participating Jasper hotels.

The card is not valid for use Jan. 16-31 during Marmot's Jasper in January, when the resort drops all lift rates at the ticket window. Jasper Family Snow Cards are only available at the Marmot Basin Ticket Office or the resort's Jasper Sales Centre in Wild Mountain in downtown Jasper.

More information. Or call 780-852-3816 or 866-952-3816.