It’s easy to live the Jasper dream for a season or two—skiing fresh pow when all the other “suckas” are at work, seeing how many different activities you can fit in one day, and owning all the hottest gear because after rent and beer your budget is dedicated to lifestyle purchases.
Like many who come to Jasper to surf the pow or traverse the trails, Shore’s been there, done that. He’s been the guy that cycles by while you’re running late for work, the guy loading his skis into his car while you load your kids in the van before school and the guy coming down from an entire day at the beach while you’re heading up in a feeble attempt to catch the sun’s last rays.
Most folks who’ve been fortunate enough to live the Jasper dream will remember those surreal moments a fond, but distant, recollection. Jasper is a transient town and the epic season in the Rockies often has an expiration date. Eventually, for most, university and/or careers that don’t involve ski boots or wetsuits, come calling.
Shore, on the other hand, is still here, still living the Jasper dream.
“This is my third time skate skiing this trail in 24 hours,” Shore told me the other day as we huffed our lycra-clad arses up the freshly groomed Pyramid Lake Fire Road. “And I’m hoping to go play hockey tonight!”
Pretty epic indeed—especially for a happily married 40-year-old with a six-year-old daughter. Shore is no slacker, either. He just happens to be particularly good at making time to enjoy the best that Jasper has to offer. In his case, that’s skiing, biking and a litany of other fun-first activities. His gear room is as sexy as any 20-something’s who lives on credit and Kraft Dinner and he takes pride in his ability to instill life lessons in his daughter while enjoying the sunshine on a hidden Jasper beach.
What’s his secret? Primarily, it’s a loving partnership with his wife and the fact that that Shores have been able to adapt. Some time ago Greg and his wife Krista decided that in order for them to live in Jasper for the long-haul, they were going to have to come at the town from a fresh angle.
“To keep living in this amazing place we knew we had to change it up, get some more skills,” he said.
And so they did. Three years ago, the Shores hit the reset button. Krista went to physiotherapy school, Greg enrolled in a two-year fitness and health promotion program. While leaving Jasper for Ontario for two years was tough for the Shores, they were banking that the sacrifice would help put them on a path to make Jasper their permanent home.
“We looked at it from the big picture,” he said. “Going back to school would help our careers, which would help us live in Jasper.”
It’s working. Krista is now a full time physiotherapist, while Greg is on the payroll at the Jasper Activity Centre, where among other things, he’s focusing on his first love: helping people cycle better. His healthy appetite for skiing is satiated by working part time as a ski patroller at Marmot Basin. Between the two jobs, he’s pulling 50 hours per week, but unlike 15 years ago, he’s no longer eating Kraft Dinner every night, he’s paying down his mortgage, and he’s living a new type of Jasper dream: one which includes raising a beautiful, brilliant daughter.
“Isla is definitely going to be a skier,” he winks.
New ski patrollers and junior Jasperites in general, take note: there’s more than one way to make your dream a reality, and to do so for the long haul.
“The dream evolves,” he laughed, swooshing by me down the Pyramid Lake fire road.
Marshall and Bandit may sound like the title of a cheesy 1980s cop drama, but in Jasper, it refers to Marmot Basin's dynamic avalanche rescue dog team.
Yet there are some similarities to the job of avalanche technician Marshall Dempster and a Hollywood B-lister. For example, all the explosions.
"It's an awesome perk of the job," Dempster said.
As an avalanche technician, part of Dempster's duties include triggering controlled avalanches to make the mountain safe for skiing. However, for the past two seasons, what's really been explosive has been the progression of his rescue dog, Bandit.
"He has an incredible drive to work," Dempster said.
Certified as a Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog last winter, Bandit is put through a regular training regimen in the event he has to help on a rescue. The team has been practicing by recovering small, human-scented articles in the snow. So far, Bandit has been showing his capabilities as a searcher.
"He's a rockstar," Dempster said. "I have the easy job, making sure he's in the area."
Not long ago, Dempster got a taste of being a rockstar himself. He was a regular on the big mountain free skiing circuit, a testament to his radness on skis.
"I spent three seasons hucking my meat," he said. "It's debatable how successful I was but it was a lot of fun."
These days, Dempster's adrenaline surge comes from seeing his dog perform. The three-and-a-half-year-old border collie has been pegged for the job since he was 10 weeks old. Marmot Basin skiers and snowboarders might get a glimpse of Bandit riding the chair, sitting shotgun on a snowmobile or playing tug-of-war with his master, Bandit's favorite game and Dempster's way of rewarding a job well done.
"His whole life revolves around that game," Dempster said.
Considering the importance of Marshall and Bandit's role, It's no exaggeration to suggest that someday, someone else's life could too.
Avalanche technician Julie McBride is new to Marmot Basin this year, having arrived from Squamish. Her last ski hill gig was patrolling at Cypress Mountain, in Vancouver.
New to Jasper, but no stranger to big terrain, McBride is looking forward to getting to know the Rockies snowpack and making things go boom.
“I’m excited to experience a winter in the Rockies and doing some explosives work,” she said.
On November 12 McBride and her team members were setting up fences, marking hazards and testing the snowpack as part of their early season duties.
Last year, McBride worked out of Terrace doing avalanche consulting and monitoring for energy companies. And even though last week she was doing most of her skiing while holding fences and piles of rebar instead of ski poles, she’s stoked to be on the slopes again.
“I’m looking forward to skiing and blowing shit up,” she laughed.