Fernie, Feb. 18, 2024

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Our incoming to Island Lake snowcat skiing is on Sunday of President’s Weekend, which is also Family Weekend in Canada. While both Castle and Fernie distribute skier traffic quite well, Fernie is very tight for lodging on the holiday weekend. Since cheap lodging would have been all the way east to Crowsnest Pass, we decided to pay up for Saturday night on the mountain at Lizard Creek Lodge. View from our room:
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This was definitely the right call after getting to bed at 3AM the previous night after the late flight. After a quick hot tub, we had elk Bolognese and bison short ribs after this salad and appetizer in the hotel dining room.
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On Sunday Great Gray North weather returned. We started on Bear Ridge, then Bow in Lizard Bowl.
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Lower down where runs merge:
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Groomers like these were in great shape, and that’s mostly what we skied in order to conserve energy for the upcoming cat skiing.

We moved on to Cedar Bowl, starting with the first groomer Tuck Out.
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Cedar Bowl has low density as it takes the Haul Back T-bar and two chairs to return. During that process we passed by Fernie’s snow plot.
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In the background are the short but steep chutes dropping into Lizard Bowl off the Reverse Traverse from Currie Bowl. We skied to the Bear chair via SE facing moguls in Sun UP as a test and were pleased to find winter snow. The late January rain layer was well buried. We only encountered frozen granular on a couple of high traffic runs, Kangaroo off the Haul Back T-bar, and Heartland approaching the White Pass chair.

Returning to Cedar Bowl, here’s the view across to Snake Ridge, one of Craig Morris’ favorite haunts from 10-30 years ago.
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Skiing on Cedar Centre:
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Lower down on Cedar Center we still have the run mostly to ourselves.
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After that second Cedar Bow circuit we took a lunch break, then moved to the “New Side” via Timber chair. Highline had the best snow off White Pass.
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Knot Chutes are at right.

Down Right had similar soft packed powder and nearly as empty slopes as Cedar Bowl. Liz called it a day and returned to Cedar Lodge while I took one more lap on the New Side. The clouds had lifted enough to open the Polar Peak chair.
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However the steep lines looker’s right of the lift were closed. We heard there had been a slide down to the rain layer during the previous week, which is consistent with that type of terrain being off limits while we were at Island Lake.

So I passed under the lift and started out the Reverse Traverse, with no fixed plan what to ski. The first slope I reached was Big Dipper, and it looked mostly smooth so that’s what I skied. I was delighted to find it was windsift similar to what I had skied at Castle on Saturday. I stopped for a belated picture halfway down.
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That was definitely a high note to end my day of 19,100 vertical.
 
As is usual on this forum this report is interesting and informative. Thanks.

Fernie looks like a mountain that would be fun for me and my ski partner. It has always been on my radar but reports like this one definitely add it to my bucket list.

Edit. Day ticket price??
 
Edit. Day ticket price??
Sadly, American day ticket pricing is creeping into Canada, though mainly at "corporate" resorts. Window price this year was $179 adult and $149 senior. AUD = .89 CAD today. Resorts of the Canadian Rockies owns Fernie, Kimberley, Kicking Horse and Nakiska in western Canada and Mont Ste. Anne and Stoneham in eastern Canada and is a partner on the Epic Pass. Coming from Australia I'd consider getting an Epic Pass and skiing Whistler on the same trip.

Fernie looks like a mountain that would be fun for me and my ski partner.
While groomers were generally excellent Sunday, that is not what makes Fernie's reputation. We were in conserve energy mode, so not a typical day for Fernie. What most of us hope for is what Liz, tseeb and I enjoyed Feb. 25, 2018. Fernie is most noted for it's steep but decently spaced tree skiing. Much of it is at the end of Alta-like traverses, a virtue on powder days and that one in 2018 was greatly enhanced by following local Bill Handley.

Liz was wowed by her first visit to Fernie in 2013. That TR is overall more more informative than this one, as light was better and we covered a more balanced mix of groomed and ungroomed terrain.
 
Sadly, American day ticket pricing is creeping into Canada, though mainly at "corporate" resorts. Window price this year was $179 adult and $149 senior. AUD = .89 CAD today. Resorts of the Canadian Rockies owns Fernie, Kimberley, Kicking Horse and Nakiska in western Canada and Mont Ste. Anne and Stoneham in eastern Canada and is a partner on the Epic Pass. Coming from Australia I'd consider getting an Epic Pass and skiing Whistler on the same trip.


While groomers were generally excellent Sunday, that is not what makes Fernie's reputation. We were in conserve energy mode, so not a typical day for Fernie. What most of us hope for is what Liz, tseeb and I enjoyed Feb. 25, 2018. Fernie is most noted for it's steep but decently spaced tree skiing. Much of it is at the end of Alta-like traverses, a virtue on powder days and that one in 2018 was greatly enhanced by following local Bill Handley.

Liz was wowed by her first visit to Fernie in 2013. That TR is overall more more informative than this one, as light was better and we covered a more balanced mix of groomed and ungroomed terrain.
Nice. North America offers so much for a mixed group. At Fernie I could try to get adventurous relatively safely while skiing by myself and Kylie could cruise the groomers.
I will mention she has been quite willing to get out of her comfort zone in the past when snow conditions are good.
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Snow conditions, in my experience anyway, rarely get any better than the above ski area.
 
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