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25 Top Spots: #10 Fernie, B.C.

25 Top Spots: #10 Fernie, B.C.

Travel
By Steve Casimiro
posted: 10/22/2002

SCORECARD
Overall Rank: #10
Snow: #6
Steeps: #17
Nightlife: #30

Fernie is no longer a hidden little playground for in-the-know powder hounds-not with a new owner and an expansion that doubled terrain to 2,500 acres just four years ago. Every season brings more cars from Calgary, three and a half hours away, and U.S. visitors are increasing. Does that make for crowds? Ha. You should worry more about running into a tree than another skier. Amenities are few relative to most big resorts (although they sell Starbucks at the base) and the expansive terrain makes for loads of elbow room. Deep snow and heavy timber are the main reasons to visit: At their best, Fernie's forests rival those of heli-skiing meccas; Fernie may well be the best tree-skiing resort in North America. Yet this mining town hill is no one-hit wonder: Sick OB lines plummet from the rocky summits of Polar and Grizzly peaks, five bowls rise above the trees and hold sweeping powder fields, and the backcountry access is insane. It's not for nothing that Island Lake Lodge, the most hallowed of all snowcat operations, is just around the corner, a few miles deeper into the Lizard Range.

The Vitals

Top Elevation: 6,316 feet
Vertical drop: 2,811 feet
snowfall: 379 inches (5,400')
Skiable acres: 2,504
Bars: 11
Eateries: 17
Phone: 250-423-4655
Web: skifernie.com

[250AD]

Adrenaline
When visibility is good, Currie Bowl has the spiciest, steepest, widest-open powder turns on the hill, followed by a long thigh-burner back to the base area.

Accumulation
A fortuitous funneling of weather systems by mountain topography means that Fernie can steal snow from just about any direction-and it does-to the tune of 379 inches a year. Big snow cycles are common, and locals are well acquainted with chest-deep turns. Low elevation (3,500-foot base, 6,316 at the top of the lifts), however, invites rain two or three times a winter.

Apres
Rickety, dark, and occasionally rocking, the Griz is where everyone goes après- ski. Cold beer and a plate of nachos are as fancy as it gets, but it's a real, old-fashioned ski bar. Just watch yourself heading down those metal steps in your ski boots.

Local's Take
"On a powder day, go straight to Boomerang Ridge. It's the steepest, straightest fall line on the mountain and it has quick turnaround back to the lift."

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