Over the Canada Day long weekend, we made the four-and-a-half-hour drive from Calgary to Jasper for the first of many 2017 summertime adventures! Our Jasper trip was our first vacation during which Miss Cub was an active participant. At almost 2 years old, she is sturdy on her feet and a total daredevil. No more snoozing in the carrier while the rest of us have all the fun!
Kitted out in her zebra-print Coton Vanille maxaloones and T-shirt, Miss Cub was already on the move as we waited at the base camp of the Jasper SkyTram for her cousins to arrive.
Tickets for the SkyTram can be purchased in advance, but it was surprisingly not busy this sunny Sunday morning, perhaps because lots of Jasper tourists were nursing a post-Canada Day hangover!
Once the rest of our party arrived, we bought our tickets and waited to be called up for flight #17 to the Upper Station, an altitude of 2277 metres (7470 feet) on Whistlers Mountain. (The mountain is named for the characteristic whistle of the marmots who call it home.) If you are an AMA member, you can save 15% on your tickets, and children under 5 ride free.
The SkyTram is a 7-minute gondola ride that is not for the claustrophobic (nor those afraid of heights). My kids and my niece and nephew loved it, and once at the top we were stunned by the breathtaking view of the Canadian Rockies.
You can call it a day once you reach the Upper Station, taking in the view from the wooden walkways and having a bite at the alpine restaurant. Or, you can hike the steep 1300 metres (4265 feet) to the Whistlers Mountain summit to be at the top of the world. I wore Miss Cub for the trek upwards, and she was nice and comfy in her Coton Vanille maxaloones, which don’t ride up. I was able to unroll the cuffs to keep her little ankles covered since we didn’t pack socks: there were a surprising number of mosquitoes up there, and the higher we went, the chillier it got!
Once we made it to more or less the top of Whistlers Mountain, Miss Cub was eager to be freed from the confines of her carrier and get climbing. This child fears nothing!
There are rocks and boulders aplenty to clamber upon, and she was fully prepared to follow her older cousins everywhere. There were a few alpine critters to spy and even some snow!
Layers are key for a mountain climate. When the sun was out she was plenty warm enough in just her T-shirt, but when the clouds rolled in a bit and the wind picked up, it was time to pull on a sweater.
Once you leave the Upper Station and start the hike up to the summit, there are no facilities. We had a picnic lunch packed and used rocks as our picnic table.
It’s important to make sure your little explorers don’t try to feed the animals, and make sure you take all your garbage back down with you!
Whistlers Mountain summit is basically one giant playground for junior rock climbers, and my heart skipped a beat a few times as I watched my overly confident munchkin fearlessly explore.
Riding the SkyTram was big-brother Cub’s favourite Jasper activity, although the hike to and from the summit was an exercise in patience. It’s a steep climb, and it took a lot of cajoling to get him to the top … and back to the bottom. For the return journey, I wore a pooped out Miss Cub on my back and let Papa handle the preschooler.
If you’re planning to ride the Jasper SkyTram with your kids this summer, pack lots of water and snacks, and dress everyone in layers! Comfortable shoes are a must if you plan to hike up to the summit.
About Coton Vanille:
Miss Cub’s fabulous hiking outfit is from Coton Vanille of Rimouski, Quebec! They recently made a deal with Serge Beauchemin, one of the Dragons on Quebec’s Dans l’oeil du dragon (the French-language version of Dragon’s Den). Since I reviewed their maxaloones last year, they have added a bunch of new apparel and accessories to their line, including shortiloones, headbands and printed T-shirts to perfectly match their bottoms. Shipping is always free in Canada and the US. Watch out for their Fall/Winter 2017 line … I can’t wait to see what they have in store!