Every year around 9 meters (29 feet) of deep powdery snow settle in Fernie’s many wide mountain bowls, delighting skiers and making snowboarders rave. The terrain ranges from wide and easy green runs to daredevil chutes into lightly-wooded intermediate-level bowls where, on weekdays, you can often still find untracked powder snow at the end of the day.
Fernie claims the longest ski season in the BC Rockies, yet the resort’s low altitude can make for mild temperatures and more watery snow – so visit in December and January, the coldest months, for the most reliable conditions.
Navigating Fernie’s five high alpine bowls is easy, but its many glades, gullies, chutes and couloirs could literally take weeks to explore; traversing the numerous ridges requires an inquisitive attitude and some effort.
At a glance:
Size: 10 lifts; 142runs; 2500 acres; 1082m vertical
Location: summit 2149m; base 1068m
Style: beginner/intermediate/expert 30/40/30 %
Snowfall: average annual 875cm + snowmaking
Facilities: daycare; ski school; rentals; day lodge; restaurants; cafes; bars; accommodation.
Most beginner runs are a single lift ride from the base, albeit on the slow and creaky old Deer and Elk chairs. Higher up options are limited: a couple of green runs with excellent views stretch out from the Bear Chair, but are often busy with fast skiers heading to other runs. Once you’ve found your legs on the greens, a good first blue is the quiet Falling Star, off the Timber chair, which skirts around the limits of the ski area, and Currie Powder off the White Pass chair – steeper but comfortably wide.
With its series of broad bowls, Fernie is a paradise for cruising and carving. The Timber Bowl usually has some of the best snow on the mountain and easy glades between its runs. For broad and even expanses try the Lizard Bowl. Elsewhere proceed with caution as many blues, even groomers, can be steep and hard; most black runs are well out of reach of most intermediates.
There’s much more expert terrain at Fernie than mountain stats suggest, and you can head in almost any direction to find challenging and rewarding runs. For steep tree runs and a good chance of powder, follow the ridge below the White Pass chair to Anaconda Glades and the rougher Bootleg Glades. Both empty onto the dizzyingly fast Diamond Back. The best bump runs are off the Boomerang lift. Fernie’s famous open bowls tend to get tracked up fairly soon, but if you’re prepared to put in work traversing and even hiking you can often find fresh lines in each one.
Some 14km of groomed and track-set cross-country trails are laid by the resort in an area just to climbers’ right of the Timber chair, with its own dedicated parking lot. There are also snowshoeing trails here.
In summer, the resort opens to both hikers and mountain bikers (day pass $45), for whom it maintains a sizeable network of trails.
Address: 5339 Ski Area Road