5 Reasons to Ski in Fernie This Winter

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Fernie, my mountain home for the past four winters, ah how you blow my mind. The first snowfall of winter sends the town into a frenzy. From around the world we come, drawn to a town made famous by tales of legendary powder, in the hope that we can too experience a Fernie powder day. Here are five reason to ski in Fernie this winter.

1) There are five bowls at Fernie Alpine Resort 

The first thing you notice about Fernie Alpine Resort as you approach the ski hill is the five bowls. The ski hill faces the towns and each bowl is easily identifiable. From left to right, each holds untold amounts of powder and awesome terrain.

Fernie Alpine Resort, Cedar Bowl

Fernie Alpine Resort, Cedar Bowl

  • Siberia Bowl is accessed via the Timber Chair. A short two minute hike will get you access to Siberia Ridge. Mars and Morning Glory are two runs which keep their powder stashes for a while, mainly because most people are too lazy to go for a stroll.
  • Timber Bowl is also accessed via the Timber Chair, but also by the Whitecaps Chair. It’s a fun bowl, full of natural features and gnarly chutes. As you ride up the Whitecaps Chair, check out the Knot Shoots. Be warned – this one’s not for the faint hearted.
  • Currie Bowl is one of the favourites at Fernie. The rope drop, when patrol allow access after a snowstorm, is not to be missed – just for the sheer excitement of mad f frothing shredders, hoping to get the best lines and fresh snow. Tip: Stand back and watch the spills and then pick your way and drop in. There’ll be plenty of snow left.
  • Lizard Bowl is accessed via the Bear Chair, or if you are coming from Currie Bowl, via a series of amazing but scary shoots called The Saddles. Lizard Bowl is a super fun bowl to play around in on a spring day; it holds its snow well and has a ton of awesome features to throw yourself off.
  • And finally we come to my personal favourite, Cedar Bowl. Cedar is home to the legendary Snake Ridge, and is a mainstay for the old school locals who have been shredding this since the beginning. It’s accessed by the Bear and Boomerang Chairs.
Fernie Alpine Resort. Photo: @findingvmo via Instagram

You can have the mountain all to yourself. Photo: @findingvmo via Instagram

2) You can enjoy the snow all to yourself 

Now that you know about the bowls at Fernie Alpine Resort, you can relax and enjoy the snow, pretty much all to yourself. Fernie, a four-hour drive from Calgary, does not get busy. I repeat: a busy day in Fernie is still quieter than 99% of the ski hills of comparative size that I have ridden in North America. The most I have ever queued up at a chair in Fernie is at the Haulback T-Bar on a legendary Monday morning. Ski Patrol had worked diligently all weekend opening the other bowls and Cedar Bowl was the last to open. We didn’t care about a ten minute lineup, because we were all stoked on a sick run through epic powder… and we were in need of catching our breath.

Snake Ridge at Fernie Alpine Resort

Snake Ridge at Fernie Alpine Resort

3) Powder, powder, powder

Fernie is the king of the Powder Highway. Okay, Kicking Horse is awesome too, but seriously. A Fernie powder is unlike anything I’ve experienced in my life. The 20 cm (7.9 in) rule is applied so often, some shops had to change it to the 30 cm (11.8 in) rule, or the 40 cm (15.7 in) in a really good year.  Check out this video from local shredder, Dylan Siggers, and tell me you’ve had a powder day like this. 

4) Cat-skiing

Fernie is also home to two cat-skiing operations, Fernie Wilderness Adventure (FWA) and Island Lake Lodge. FWA offer cat skiing in the Fernie backcountry, which allows access to those impossible to reach places and waist deep powder runs.

Island Lake Lodge is a cat skiing operation and luxury lodge. Access to the lodge is by snowcat only, and you truly get a sense of isolation. The skiing is world-class and you are guaranteed to never cross another set of tracks.

5) Backcountry Access

Exploring amongst the snow-covered trees in Fernie. Photo: @nick.nault via Instagram

Exploring amongst the snow-covered trees. Photo: @nick.nault via Instagram

Backcountry access in Fernie, whether it is for skiing, boarding, snowmobiling or snowshoeing, is all around you. In every direction there is countless opportunities to get away from the crowds and explore new terrain. For overnight hut access, check out Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club for more details.