NOTE: The February 22/15 Conditions Update is at the bottom of this post.
The original plan for our February update was to talk about all the fun family-friendly activities that can be enjoyed during your winter visit to Fernie.
First, we thought it would be beneficial to share some first-hand impressions on our current snow conditions.
As has been widely reported in the media, limited snowfalls and unseasonably warm temperatures (or what we like to call the pineapple express) has meant that snow conditions across most of western North America have been less than ideal. Due to these unfavorable conditions, resorts such as Castle Mountain, Mt. Spokane and Hemlock Valley have been forced to suspend operations (temporarily or for the season).
Fernie has also been impacted by this unique weather pattern. The annual snowfall and snowpack is below average and we have seen much fewer “powder” days this season. Fortunately, the higher elevations were not as affected by this weather and the majority of the upper mountain remains open with good conditions on groomed runs. This past weekend we experienced icy conditions early in the morning with the snow softening to spring-like conditions as the day warmed. It was primarily hard packed on machine groomed runs and variable conditions off designated trails. Admittedly the lower mountain was in poorer condition with a number of runs closed due to limited snow coverage. As a result, options for beginner skiers on the lower mountain were restricted. Although there were still a few options to ski down to the lower mountain, the resort staff members have added the opportunity for guests to download from the Timber Chair as well.
To better illustrate, here are a number of images taken this past weekend on February 14th & 15th.
Upper Mountain Feb 14 & 15, 2015
Lower Mountain Feb 14 & 15, 2015
We would like to sincerely say “kudos” to the resort operations team who, from what we can see, have been working extremely hard to get the most out of these challenging snow conditions. While there are some run closures and patchy sections on the lower mountain, there is still a lot of enjoyable skiing/boarding to be had. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons (or Mother Nature in this instance gives you pineapples), go make some lemonade!
So what does this mean if you are coming to Fernie in the next few weeks? It means that YES you can ski or snowboard at Fernie Alpine Resort and YES you can have a good time!
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind to help maximize your enjoyment on the slopes:
• Plan for skiing/boarding on hard pack or spring-like conditions and plan to stay primarily on groomed runs. Check the daily grooming report for the most recent updates. With 142 named runs and an extensive grooming program, there is a lot to explore at Fernie Alpine Resort. For those of you familiar with skiing in Eastern Canada (or even the eastern slopes of the Rockies), these conditions will not be foreign to you!
• Don’t just bring your powder skis or snowboard. High performance skis/boards designed for the hard pack will be your best option.
• Adjust your schedule if it is cool at night and you want to avoid the hard pack or icy morning conditions. Go for a late breakfast or sleep in and plan to be on the slopes from 11am to 4 pm.
• Review a resort map and plan your day to maximize skiing/boarding on the upper parts of the mountain.
• If you are unsure where to ski/board, the Fernie Alpine Resort mountain hosts and patrol team are super helpful and will always try and guide visitors to the best areas to get the most out of your day. Talking to resort staff is especially helpful if you have beginners in your group and are looking for different options on the upper mountain.
The other important thing to keep in mind is that this can all change overnight (remember the Fernie Factor) and you could wake up to 2 feet of new snow in the morning.
In addition to the suggestions above, it is important to remember that Fernie offers a number of other great activities and attractions which can complement your skiing/boarding on the slopes. Here are three of our favorites but you can also visit the Tourism Fernie website to view a complete list of things to do in and around Fernie.
1 • Go on an adventure to Island Lake Lodge. The limited snow conditions have meant that regular cat-skiing operations have been temporarily suspended. As a result, Island Lake Lodge has been offering a number of unique day excursions to the lodge including snow-shoeing tours, spa treatments and evening 3-course dinners complete with transport to and from the lodge via heated snowcat. Visit their website or call 250-423-3700 to learn more about their Pineapple Express Specials.
2 • Spend time in historic Downtown Fernie. While people often plan to visit town for a quick bit of shopping or a dinner, why not consider spending a whole or half day downtown? Combine an afternoon of browsing the local shops, galleries and restaurants with a visit to Spa 901 Fernie, the Vogue theatre or the Fernie Aquatic Centre. There’s plenty of fun activities to keep the whole family entertained!
3 • Explore Fernie’s extensive trail network. Visitors from around the world come to Fernie in the summer months to hike and bike our extensive trail network. You can also explore these trails and while taking in the spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery in the winter months too! Choose from a relaxing stroll along the river trail right in town, or rent a pair of cross country skis or a fat bike and discover the many trails leading out from Mount Fernie Provincial Park.
Whatever the weather or season, Fernie offers a multitude of ways to connect with nature and to have a truly unique experience in the Canadian Rockies.
February 22/15 Update: Conditions continue to improve!
Since our February 16th update, Fernie has experienced cooler temperatures in the evenings allowing the resort to utilize snowmaking equipment plus we received 10 cm of new snow over the weekend. As a result, snow conditions continue to improve. To better illustrate, here are several images taken on February 21st:
Top to bottom of Falling Star – Feb 21/15
We hope this update gives you a better perspective on how to make the most of your vacation to Fernie. We look forward to seeing you here in the mountains this winter & spring!