Doing a ski season in Fernie
The last decade has seen Fernie Alpine Resort evolve from a locals’ favourite into one of the worlds leading ski destinations. A lift expansion in 1997 doubled skiable terrain, creating a powder mecca that truly lives up to the hype. This was acknowledged in 2004 by the Which? Good Ski and Snowboard Guide, who awarded the area ‘North American Resort of the Year.’
Powder days the ultimate payoff for every skier and snowboarder. And with 29ft of snow annually you’ll see plenty of them in Fernie! The spectacular Lizard Range acts as a huge natural snow trap, milking moisture laden Pacific storms for every last inch of the white stuff. Frequently the snow is of champagne quality, bringing face-shots with every turn, and covering tracks between runs.
Not only does this make for extremely fun riding, it also helps push some serious progression. Whether beginner or pro, forgiving conditions and soft landings will allow you to take it to the next level much more quickly. Two foot of fresh makes falling fun!
The best thing about Fernie’s 2500 acres is that nearly every square meter of them can be skied. This means that no two runs are ever quite the same, and with locals still finding new variations to favourite routes, there’s plenty to hold your interest for an entire season.
For those just getting to grips with the basics of snow sliding, a variety of well groomed gentle runs will perfectly ease the learning experience.
While for the more experienced, the area has it all steeps, chutes, open bowls, tight trees, gullies, and natural hits everywhere.
Parks and pipes
Over the last two years Fernie has really stepped up its park and pipe provision. Last season a well maintained park boasted a selection of tables, hips, step-ups, and multi-jumps, most catering to all abilities with a large and a small side. A selection of rails and boxes were on offer in the main park, with a second ‘rail jam’ park located beneath the half-pipe on the lower mountain.
As good as Fernie’s in-resort skiing and riding is (and we all like the high speed lifts up!), the surrounding backcountry has immense potential. From a short boot pack out from the ski area boundary, to access a virgin slope, to full multi-day tours to remote huts, the expanse of terrain and snow is mind blowing. Perfect pitches and sick lines everywhere, many with very quick access from the resort.
Fernie’s stunning scenery and warm atmosphere make this mountain town a wonderful place to spend your winter. Traditional and modern combine, bringing an unhurried pace, friendly people and a wide selecting of services with comfortable prices.
Shopping and services
From a post office to an internet café, you’ll find it in Fernie. For your day to day needs, the town excels. Choose from three supermarkets, all the leading Canadian banks, and a full range of general retailers and services. For winter sports specifically, three snowboard shops and four ski shops provide excellent choice. All of the major brands are available, with discounts frequently given to season-long ‘locals’.
Hopefully you’ll never see them, but as well its own hospital, Fernie also has a number of excellent medical, dental and physiotherapy services.
Although laid-back and easy going, Fernie is home to a vibrant after-dark scene, especially in winter when the town comes alive. With everything from contemporary bars to traditional pubs, there’s something going on every night of the week.
Live bands and dj’s make regular appearances, with well known names from across Canada appearing several times a season. Drinks specials are common place making the whole experience extremely good value. Handily, closing time is 1am, with one nightclub staying open later.
One-off events like the famous ‘mogul-smoker’, an outdoor party just outside Fernie in honour of the new season, occur spontaneously from time to time. The best thing about the friendly scene is that it’s small enough to quickly become familiar with lots of faces and meet a bunch of people. But with different tourists arriving each week it never becomes stale. The best of both worlds!
Canadians love their food, and you’re well catered for in Fernie. For a full meal, restaurants are plentiful choose from steak houses, Italian, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese. Unique coffee shops and quirky cafes are also a feature of the town, and a great option for a lighter snack. Most of the bars have their own menus too, and all of the major fast food franchises are available.
Even when you’re not skiing and snowboarding, it’s difficult to become bored in Fernie. Skaters will have a lot of fun, with an excellent outdoor park (although under snow for at least half the season!) and a range of mini-ramps inside the ‘Edge of The World’ snowboard shop. The town has a two screen cinema, showing the latest releases, as well as a bowling alley.
Fernie Aquatic Centre is a great option for relaxing the muscles after a day on the slopes. Alongside the main pool, a hot-tub and steam room afford amazing mountain views while you soak. Alternatively, a private gym and fitness centre is on offer for those who have the energy!
The Fernie Memorial Arena houses an ice-rink and is also home to the ‘Fernie Ghostriders’ ice-hockey team. With a crowd passionate to the point of raucousness, their games make for a cracking evenings entertainment.
Also available are snowmobiling, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, husky dog tours, ice-fishing, more or less any winter activity you can bring to mind. Later on in the season, Fernie’s Elk River is home to world-class fly-fishing and incredible whitewater rafting and kayaking. Once the snow has melted from the lower slopes around town, the mountain biking is second to none.