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Fernie Alpine Resort

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Trail Map
Trail Map
ferniemap.jpg
 

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Conditions
Average Annual Snowfall: 366" (Tony Crocker) Nearby Island Lake snowcat area averages 400+ inches snow.
Says Tony, "Big dumps frequent. North-south and east-west valley systems create a precipitation trap for both powder and possible winter rain. After 1998 expansion: 4 major upper bowls with innumerable tree shots between and below." 
Best time to visit is mid-December through early March.

Transportation
Transportation
AIR TRANSPORTATION

Calgary International Airport (3.5 hour drive) is serviced from most major North American and European cities.

 

Cranbrook B.C. (1.25 hour drive) Canadian Rockies International Airport is accessible by regional air service of Air Canada Jazz and Pacific Coast Airlines, along with Delta Airlines (direct flights from Salt Lake City).

 

Kalispell, Montana (2 hour drive) is accessible by Delta, Northwest Airlines and Alaska/Horizon Airlines.

 

Spokane, Washington (4 hour drive) is accessible by Delta, Northwest Airlines and Alaska/Horizon Airlines.

 
LOCAL TRANSPORTATION

Fernie Alpine Resort is located in the south-east corner of the B.C. Rockies on Highway No.3 approximately 60 km (40 miles) from the Alberta and U.S. borders. It is 5 km (3 miles) from the City of Fernie and only 1.5km up the hill from the highway intersection.

 
Driving times:
Calgary 3.5 hours
Cranbrook 1.25 hours
Kalispell 2 hours
 
21 passenger coach service. Available to provide airport transfers from Canadian Rockies International or Calgary International
 
To and from Calgary twice daily
 
Offering daily scheduled shuttle service, 2x daily between Calgary Airport & Fernie (winter only)
 

Lodging
Lodging
RCR Central Reservations offers the most comprehensive listing of accommodations in Fernie.
Name Description Maximum Occupancy Price Range

Fernie Hotels & Lodges

 

Select from basic to luxury accommodations By property $86-$235

Fernie Condos

 

An array of options, from economy to deluxe By property $90-$393
Fernie Motels All motels in fernie are in town, a short distance from the mountain 2-4 $85-$99
Rental Homes Various locations and amenities By property $335-$959
       

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Dining

Slopeside Deli -- eat in or take out

 

Fernie Dining Guide

 

The Brickhouse -- Great atmosphere, "My favorite eating place in Fernie." 

401 2nd Ave

FernieBC V0B 1M0

(250) 423-0009

 

Picnic Restaurant & Social -- Fernie's newest favorite place features bistro-style food and an extensive selection of wines and cocktails.

701 2nd Ave,

Fernie, B.C.

(250) 423-7666

 

Fernie Alpine Resort
Description:

Fernie Alpine Resort has a well-deserved reputation for excellent snow conditions and spectacular scenery. Elephant and Mammoth Head provide massive rock backdrops to an extensive playground just waiting to be explored. Snow arrives at the end of November and stays well into April. Along with the defined trails, five alpine bowls offer plenty of tree skiing/boarding to test skills. Experts can glide through the glades, drop off ridges, check out chutes or make first tracks in the powder. The Cedar and Lizard Bowls offer terrain that may entice intermediates to try off-piste and glades. The lower mountain is ideal for beginners, with wide open slopes and winding trails. Snowboarders could test the all-terrain park, attack the half pipebut for weak-kneed insurance reasons the management closed those features about 3 years ago. Nonetheless, there are many natural gullies in which these kind of skills may still be honed.

Details:
DetailValue
Snow making percent
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Magic carpet1
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Rope tow1
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Poma
Lifts-Surface Lifts-T bar1
Lifts-Surface Lifts-J bar
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Single
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Double
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Triple2
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Quad2
Lifts-Chair Lifts-High speed quad2
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Five person
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Six person
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Eight person
Lifts-Gondola
Lifts-Tram
Lifts-Coggle train
Lifts-Funicular
Lifts-Other
Lifts-Total number of lifts9
Lifts-Total lift capacity13,716/hr.
Trails-1-Beginner30%
Trails-2-Intermediate40%
Trails-3-Advanced30%
Trails-4-Expert only
Trails-5-Terrain park
Trails-6-Half pipe
Trails-Total112
Runs-Steepest run
Runs-Longest run3 miles
General-Base elevation3500'
General-Vertical drop2816'
General-OwnerResorts of the Canadian Rockies
General-Mountain range
General-Annual skier visits
General-Back country access
General-Total area in bounds2504 acres
General-Snow making coverage
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC

Posted

Pros: Big & Varied Terrain; 2000' of Vertical; Lots of Steeps, Good Tree Skiing. Usually has Good Snow.

Cons: Long Traverses; Crowds on Weekends, Skis Out Quickly, Overblown Sense of Self-Importance, Potential for Rain & a Price Gouging Mentality

20060125-far-aerial-007.jpgFernie is my home mountain & I ski it around 35 to 40 times a season. Its located about 10 minutes from the town of Fernie, BC which can be seen from the slopes. It’s on the eastern slope of the Lizard Range of the Canadian Rockies and consists of 5 bowls divided by ridges which offer some very good steeps and tree skiing. All told there is around 2,000 acres of inbounds terrain of which I would say 50% black or a very deep shade of blue. There are also many back-country skiing opportunities in the area and three nearby cat ski operations.

 

Fernie styles itself as having "Legendary Powder". This is more marketing hype than the honest goods. It is true that given its geographic positioning, Fernie catches more snow than many nearby areas.  Usually 30 feet (10 meters) of snow falls in an average a year but this can be decidedly more or less depending upon the particular year. Five years ago it rained all the time and there was mud at the top of mountain in mid-February and four years ago it seemed to snow a foot of powder every single day. Fog or thick overcast is often prevalent, especially in early & mid-winter.  In short, it can be hit or miss. As I write this (December 01st, 2010) there is a base in excess of 3 feet and it has had a total snow fall in excess of 7 feet. If this holds up the 2010-11 season should be a very good snow year for Fernie.

 

Fernie is owned by the Alberta oil tycoon Murray Edwards who, as far as I can tell, isn’t a skier. Rather it appears to be a business investment that runs on the philosophy of bleeding every available penny out of the operation. As a result the lift prices are high & the on-hill amenities are expensive. This philosophy resulted in Fernie listening to its lawyers and closing down of all of its terrain park features. Nonetheless, the operation is well run and well maintained most of the time. There is a wide range of the typical on-hill facilities but for night life people head into Fernie which has some pretty good bars and restaurants.

 

Turning to the skiing, the lower ½ of the mountain is basically green & the upper half is black and blue. The grooming is just so-so and therefore Fernie is not the best choice for those who seek out velvety corduroy runs. For that Whitefish Montana is the better choice and is about 2 hours from Fernie.

 

For those, like me, who seek out steep & deeps and who like tree skiing, Fernie is a very good hill indeed. The most varied of the steep & deeps are accessed from the five ridges that separate the bowls and lead to some very challenging skiing terrain. The problem with getting to many of these ridge areas is that long cruising traverses are required but once one gets to where one is going the rewards are worth the trip. Even when not skiing the ridges, there are large flats in the bowls which prevent one from skiing top to bottom without crossing some less than inspiring terrain. There are two notable exceptions to this traverse problem. The first is the north aspect Cedar Bowl accessed immediately off of both the Great Bear Chair and the Boomerang Chair. The second is the terrain under and flanking Boomerang chair itself. 

 

Fernie is extremely popular with people in Calgary Alberta, which is about 3 hours away. Many of them have condos on the hill or own property in the town of Fernie. On weekends the place can be really crowded.  This can result in the whole mountain being skied out in a matter of hours. Still, the crowds do not usually cause long lift line waits unless areas of the mountain have been closed due to avalanche control.

 

Closure for avalanche control can be a pain. Given the 5 five bowls are located under a 1,000 foot cliff face of the Lizard range, snow control after a really good dump can take some time, leaving large areas of the mountain closed for skiing and results in even heavier traffic in the areas that remain open. This problem may have been somewhat ameliorated by last summer’s installation of a line along the Lizard ridge which should facilitate the dropping of explosive charges.

 

There is much one can say about specific runs on Fernie but for the best information concerning these matters I suggest you check out Craig Morrison’s interactive Google Earth Map in which he has traced all of Fernie’s runs and has entered his reviews and pictures of those runs. It is really quite illuminating and can be found at the following link: http://www.redtree.com/far#googlemap. In addition, Craig has set up a smart phone application on which you can locate your position on the map and obtain information while skiing the mountain. The link for the app is at the bottom of the page of his map.

 

All in all, I would say that Fernie is a very good but not great mountain. There are many who will rate it higher than me and I acknowledge that my familiarity with the hill may well have breed a degree of contempt. Having said all of this, I do not think any visitor to Fernie who is looking for some really good and varied skiing will go away disappointed (unless, of course, it rains).

 

Here’s my list of other very good and challenging mountains to consider that are within 3 hours or so of Fernie: (1) Castle Mountain, Alberta which is south of the Crowsnest Pass; (2) Red Mountain which is just outside of Rossland BC; (3) Whitewater in the hippie time-warp town of Nelson, BC; (4) Kicking Horse in Golden BC; and, (4) Revelstoke near the town of Revelstoke BC (this mountain has the highest vertical of any mountain in North America). For those who are looking for more family orientated and less adventurous ski experience, Alberta’s Lake Louise, Sunshine & Nakisika, all east of Calgary, are good choices as is Whitefish (formerly Big Mountain) in Whitefish, Montana and Panorama which is located about an hour north of Cranbrook BC. 

Posted

Pros: Snow, Terrain, Alpine Bowls, Glades

Cons: No terrain park but has rail park

Had to ski Fernie Alpine Resort after reading some recent forums. So made drive up from the states. Fernie Alpine Resort delivered- we had a classic weekend of new snow, band at the base area playing classic AC/DC tunes (can't even remember there name- real retro....) and lots of great people. Felt right at home. Stayed on mountain in a budget motel (no frills) and we skied our brains out - checking out all of the ridge lines and the chutes off each side. We found huge terrain here! it would take a long time to explore it all! Lots of fun! We are for sure going back

Posted

Pros: Challenging terrain, tree skiing, hike-to terrain, nice scenery and nice town

Cons: Low elevation, possibility of rain

Skied here for 3 days during a Canadian Rockies trip.  Unfortunately it was in March of 2015 which was the warmest winter the area had seen in 50 years!  Lots of bare areas at the bottom but plenty of snow at the top, with spring skiing conditions.  Favorite runs were Snake Ridge, chutes and bowls under White Pass chair and Polar Peak runs.  There is plenty of off piste terrain to explore some of which was closed due to conditions.  Would definitely want o go back there during an average season.  We were lucky not to get any rain while we were there but the temperatures were a bit too warm for skiing; had to ski through some mud puddles at the bottom.  Not sure what the regular price is as we got cheap passes as my nephew was working there.  

 

We flew into Kalispell, MT from Arizona and drove up from there.  W stayed at Silver Rock Condos which is between the town and the resort.  The town is interesting and has a lot of character with plenty to do at night.  

Posted

Pros: Easy access, ton's of steeps, chutes and challenging terrain, good grooming, excellent vibe

Cons: a little flat on the lower half of the mountain

In late January we experienced Fernie Alpine Resort in Fernie, British Columbia during the Kokanee Snow Dreams Festival. There was lot's going on and the resort had a great Vibe on the hill and the town was just as hopping. Makes you feel like your in a real Ski Town.
 

                                                              Looking into the Lizard Range from downtown Fernie

 
 
There's plenty of challenging terrain, good groomers, steeps and long runs. Fernie has 5 Alpine bowls which are are served by 10 lifts and over 2500 skiable acres. Leg crushing vert of over 3500. 
 

 

One of my favorites was playing in the Currie Bowl Chutes off the White Pass Chair. We were lucky to hit Fernie with 4" of fresh. We had plenty of places to play but unfortunately the newer Polar Peak chair was closed until avy work was done. Oh well, gives us something to look forward to.
 

 

 

There's numerous restaurants, bars and shopping int the town which is only 2-3 miles away from the base. Definitely a fun resort to visit.
 
 

Posted

Pros: Snow, steeps, trees

Cons: Lift system on the old side, rain, expensive

 Fernie is a great hill.

It has some great steeps, and it gets a good amount of snow.

But it does rain on occasion.

And it can be slow to open after a big dump.

Posted

Pros: Lots of good hills

Friendly Canadians at every counter.

Nice big hills with newer lifts.

Good condos with hot tub on the balcony.

We all had a fabulous time.

Posted

Pros: Variety, lots of different exposures, trees, chutes, bumps, groomers.

Cons: Cost. Prone to rain at the bottom.

I visted Fernie on a road trip in 2007 & also did a Trip Report with more information on my experience.

Fernie is a good-sized destination resort with a base elevation of 3.500’ & tops out at 6,316’ for a vertical of 2,816’ & 2,504 acres. They have 10 lifts including 2 detachables. The skiing is a nice variety of groomed cruisers, tight steep trees & big wide-open bowls, with a few steep chutes thrown in.  There is a lot of skiing here, although some of the lifts are of the old and slow variety.  Nice lodges & slopeside lodging.  The town is only a short distance from the mountain.