If you’re a free-riding addict who loves powder and crowd free slopes then you will most likely feel right at home at the Fernie Alpine Resort.
Like Kicking Horse, which we profiled last week, there isn’t much for the Freestyler but, unlike Kicking Horse, there is more for the beginner and would be a great resort for beginners to learn on.
That doesn’t take away from the experience for the advanced & expert riders though. With 5 gigantic bowls (Siberia Bowl, Timber Bowl, Currie Bowl, Lizard Bowl & Cedar Bowl) dominating the trail map’s landscape, and plenty of glades, chutes, trees and steep slopes, there’s something for everyone here – in the downhill stakes anyway.
Fernie’s Mountain Stats
A large resort with 2,500+ acres of ride-able terrain and a 1,082 metre vertical drop. Whilst this doesn’t quite match it with Kicking Horse it’s not too far off.
Access is via 10 lifts and with 142 named runs there is plenty of variety.
|FERNIE MOUNTAIN STATS|
|Resort Elevation: 2,134m (7,000ft)|
|Vertical Drop: 1,082m (3,550ft)|
|Ride-able area: 2,500 acres|
|No. of Lifts: 10 (7 chairlifts, 3 surface lift)|
|No. of trails: 142|
|43 (30%) Beginner (Green)|
|57 (40%) Intermediate (Blue)|
|43 (30%) Advanced (Black Diamond)/Expert (Dbl Black Diamond)|
|No. of parks: 1|
|Night Riding: Yes|
Love powder? Who doesn’t. Well it looks like Powder loves Fernie! Apparently Fernie gets the highest annual snowfall of all the mountains in the Canadian Rockies (up to 11m [37ft].
There are plenty of trails to choose from, plus ample backcountry (off-piste) and tree runs.
Add to that all the bowls, chutes, crowdlessness & endless powder and it all adds up to some free-riding paradise.
The Terrain Parks
There is 1 park but fairly limited by the sounds of it. If you’re going to Fernie and wanting to ride freestyle you are probably better off finding natural hits on the mountain.
If you have the choice I would make the effort to get to Whistler-Blackcomb or Big White to satisfy your free-style needs – or if you are in Vancouver check out the local mountains Mt Seymour or Cypress which both have some decent parks too.
There is some limited night riding which goes nightly between Dec 26 and Jan3 and then every weekend from Jan 10 and every night between Feb 14 and 21.
Night riding during these times runs from 4pm to 9pm.
Check out a PDF of their trail map at the link below
How to Get There
Fernie is located around 3.5 hours drive (depending on traffic) from Calgary International Airport, the closest large airport nearby.
There is also an Airport at Cranbrook, B.C. – around a 1 hr 15 minute drive with a more limited range of flights – and more expensive ones I imagine!
The other option is to land on the US side of the boarder in either Kalispell, Montana (2 hours 15 minutes drive away) or Spokane, Washington (4 hrs 40 minutes drive). I have no idea about times for border crossings so this may need to be factored into timings as well.
Calgary International Airport – 3hrs 35 minutes
Cranbrook (Canadian Rockies International Airport) – 1 hr 15 minutes
Kalispell, Montana – 2 hrs 15 minutes
Spokane, Washington – 4 hrs 45 minutes
Check out the following link to learn more about shuttle services from Calgary and Cranbrook.
The link below is for shuttles from Lethbridge
If you have the means, the inclination and want to get to Fernie as quick as possible – then you could get yourself choppered in!
Where to Stay?
Check out my separate post on Fernie Accommodation for info on where to stay.
Usual opening date
Fernie pretty uniformly opens in the first weekend of December each year.
Past 5 years opening dates:
2010/2011 Season: December 4, 2010
2011/2012 Season: December 2, 2011
2012/2013 Season: December 1, 2012
2013/2014 Season: December 1, 2013
2014/2015 Season: December 5, 2014
Usual closing date
And closes pretty uniformly in the middle weekend of April.
Past 5 years closing dates:
2010/2011 Season: April 16, 2011
2011/2012 Season: April 17, 2012
2012/2013 Season: April 14, 2013
2013/2014 Season: April 23, 2014
The lifts run from 9am to 4pm.
See the night riding section above for night riding times of the season.
Have you Ridden Fernie Resort?
Let us know your experience of Fernie in the comments below. Other comments, questions etc, as always, are welcome too.