"Fernie" is a cute and cuddly name for a resort, conjuring up images of sun-kissed bunny hills and a fronded green mascot. In fact, sweet-sounding Fernie is a menace to beginners, who have trouble navigating the deep snow and challenging terrain. "Lots of steeps," crows a reader. Don't expect to be coddled après-ski, either. The former coal town of Fernie affords a nice view of the broad Elk Valley, but isn't known for fabulous accommodations or quaint shopping. "No resort feel," confides a reader. "Fernie is not a typical small Canadian town." On top of everything else, Fernie is "hard to get to, isolated," complains another respondent. (It's a two-hour drive from the small Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Montana.) But one reader's bane is another's bounty. The characteristics some complained about were the very aspects that others celebrated as "well worth the trip." Terrain too tough? Depends on your perspective: "Natural snow, natural terrain, not groomed to death," grins a reader. In fact, the steep-and-deep is such a draw here that snowcat outfitters such as Fernie Wilderness Adventures keep busy all winter long. For novices, there's always Kimberley, Fernie's gentler sister resort, a 90-minute bus ride or half-hour heli-taxi away. As for the surly old mining town, respondents were amazed to meet the "most friendly and helpful people I've ever met in 30 years skiing." As decrepit coal miners' cottages are being replaced by cookie-cutter condos, "get here before everyone else does," one reader urges.
(-) "Accessibility, awkward lift system." "Remoteness, T-bars."