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Destination: Fernie, British Columbia

Features
posted: 02/26/2002

VITAL STATS
Top lift-served elevation:
6,316 feet
Vertical drop: 2,811 feet
Annual snowfall: 29 feet
Skiable acreage: 2,504
Terrain: 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% advanced/expert
Lifts: 2 high-speed quads, 2 fixed quads, 2 triples, 1 T-bar, 1 rope tow
Info: www.skifernie.com

Lift Prices
Full-day adult ticket, C$54; students, C$43; kids, C$15; 3-plus-day adult tickets, C$50 a day.

Getting There
International flights land at Calgary, three-plus hours away, depending on road conditions. Or fly into Kalispell, Montana, two hours to the south. Commuter flights land in Cranbrook, B.C., which is 75 minutes west of Fernie (if the roads are clear).

Lodging
On the mountain, the Griz Lodge, Fernie's original overnight pit stop, offers simple but comfortable rooms. The swankiest (and -- surprise! -- best-located) ski-in options are the Cornerstone, Snow Creek Lodge, and Lizard Creek Lodge. Call 800-258-7669 for info. Three miles from the mountain, lodging in town tends toward the basic. The cheapest sleeps are at the Raging Elk Hostel (250-423-6811), with dorm beds from C$16 a night.

Food and Drink
Fernie's entertainment scene is expanding as fast as its mountain. One constant is on-mountain après ski at the Griz Bar, where you can wade into the international bouillabaisse of ski bummery every afternoon. If you feel like splurging, try dinner in the elegantly rustic Lizard Creek Lodge's award-winning dining room. In town, Rip n' Richards is the unfussy locals' hang, with a reasonably priced Southwestern-accented menu. Also in town, the Old Elevator is an international steakhouse that takes advantage of neighboring Alberta's bonanza of beef. In a small frame house on the main drag, the newly opened Curry Bowl is an excellent outpost of Pacific Rim cuisine. Fernie's most cosmopolitan one-two punch resides in an old stone livery building on 4th Street. Upstairs, Coltrane's serves inventive modern fare and excellent wine in an airy loftlike space. Stumble downstairs after dinner to the Eldorado Lounge, Fernie's most happening nightspot, where nationally regarded Canadian bands keep the hipsters hopping till two.

Off-Piste
For a heli-style experience without the sky-high prices, try one of the Fernie area's snowcat ski tours: Fernie Wilderness Adventures (250-423-6704), Sno Much Fun (888-4-CATSKI), and the world-famous Island Lake Lodge (250-423-3700).

If you really want to experience Canadian frontier culture, try Skoki Dogsled Tours (250-423-2406) at the Fernie base area. Starting at C$95 for adults, C$45 for kids, Skoki offers everything from one-hour tours to four-day backcountry expeditions. Aspiring mushers can even learn to drive their own dogsled team. (Wear ski pants, consider a helmet, and hang on tight if an instructor named Kat is teaching you how to drive dogs.)

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