Let’s get straight to the point; winter tends to overstay its welcome. With major snowstorms lasting into April earlier this year, Mother Nature definitely took longer than expected to bestow warmer temperatures upon us Canadians.
Living in this wonderful, snowy nation, there are some crucial lessons to learn in order to thrive in the ‘Great White North’. Most importantly, is realizing the importance of making the best of your environment and conditions (especially the long winter months we so often endure).
Our initial instincts are to stay warm and cozy during blizzard-stricken months, huddled indoors with blankets, warm drinks, a crackling fire and taking in an unhealthy amount of Netflix, while silently praying that our neighbour or significant other will shovel the walkway. Winters have such great potential though, why surrender such glorious opportunities to see the remarkable beauty Canada boasts in its backyard?
Exploring the outdoors throughout all four of our Canadian seasons is a revitalizing experience for us, which should be taken advantage of to refresh our frame of mind. It’s a chance to discover new adventures just a snowball’s throw away. We’re all familiar with making the most of warm temperatures during the summer months with patio season and backyard lounging in full swing. The winter landscape can be just as inspiring too, when given the chance.
If you need more convincing, here are a few of Canada’s premiere winter activity destinations:
Fernie, British Columbia
The shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs along 2nd Avenue in Fernie are some of the Canadian Rockies’ hidden gems, with surrounding mountain peaks looming over the glow of its downtown streets.
Located just down the road, Fernie Alpine Resort is home to some of Canada’s most legendary powder, with an average snowfall of 30ft. From epic downhill skiing to leisurely snowshoe and groomed cross-country skiing trails, the resort has activities for the whole family. It also offers plenty of weekly programs to get you outside and even yoga classes to help you find your winter Zen. Their on-mountain accommodations along with a local shuttle to town make for a perfect introduction to Canada’s winter activities.
Kimberley, British Columbia
If you’re looking for a classic mountain town, you’ve found it. The town of Kimberley embodies the Canadian spirit with humble, welcoming locals and a relentless passion for nature. Kimberley is home to craft beers, great local dining, the oldest building in Canada and a variety of activities to enjoy outside.
With stunning scenery of the Kootenay mountains, Kimberley Alpine Resort is just minutes from town and offers great facilities and terrain for people of all skiing and snowboarding ability levels – from first-timers to seasoned slope shredders. Looking to stay on level ground? Try the area’s expansive snowshoe trails, cross-country skiing network or check out fat biking, one of North America’s favourite new activities (mountain bikes with wider tires for better grip in snow conditions).
Golden, British Columbia
One of the most famed locations along the Powder Highway, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and the town of Golden are conveniently located along the TransCanada Highway and ready to provide you a mountain experience like no other. Drop into Whitetooth Brewing Co. for locally crafted beers, or the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre for an up-close learning session with these amazing animals.
Delving deeper into nature, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers Canada’s highest dining experience, the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at 7,700ft. Once you’re fueled up, hit the slopes of the Catamount Chair to learn the basics on your skis or snowboard, or bring your little ones to the tube park and natural ice rink at the base of the resort. Advanced skiers head to the top via the gondola for wide ranging bowls, ridges and chutes. If staying grounded is your preference, Golden is primed with world-class snowmobiling, along with plenty of rentals and tours available.
Life’s too short – and winters are too long – to miss out on a lifetime of adventure. Let winter activities revitalize your soul and help you look forward to the inevitable snowfalls each year. Meet Mother Nature halfway on this one and discover how rewarding Canada’s winter climates can truly be.
Craft Breweries, quaint mountain towns, stunning rocky mountain views – those are the new experiences many people seek when planning at road trip. Road trips really are the best of all travelling worlds – without the major cost/headache of flying somewhere, staying semi close to your homebase while getting out and seeing the world at the same time. If you’re still looking to plan a fun, easy to manage getaway this summer or fall – here’s an itinerary all laid out for you. Less planning – more fun! It doesn’t get much better than that!
If you’re coming from Calgary in the south of the city or surrounding area, start at Fernie Alpine Resort – it’s an easy 2.5 hour drive when there’s no snow on the ground and it is home to perhaps the best known craft brewery scene of all our suggested locations. If you’re heading out from Calgary in the north or surrounding area, Kicking Horse might be the place for you to start your trip and do this whole circuit in reverse.
Fernie, B.C. – where the beer is local, but your server might be an import
Fernie is one of Canada’s great ski towns, not only has it been named ‘the coolest little town in North America’ by Rolling Stone Magazine, it’s also been named ‘the greatest Canadian outdoor town’ by Get Out There Magazine, in part because it truly is a year round outdoor destination with so much to do in the summer as well as the winter.
What to try – for a non boozy activity, try the Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort. It’s a super fun afternoon where even adults find a challenge in the tree top obstacle course (perhaps do this one before the brewery tour, you might not want to have a hang over when 30 feet up in the trees)!
Where to drink – The Fernie Brewing Company is not just well known in Fernie, it’s well known in Calgary and branching out into many other major cities as well. But Fernie, of course, is the breweries home. The Fernie Brewing Co. building is located just as you drive into town (from the Sparwood/Calgary direction), they have a tasting room where you can try a flight of 4 beers for just $5 – which they donate to charity! Want to give back and drink at the same time? Fernie Brewing Co. is for you! Another fun initiative from the Fernie Brewing Co. is the Trail to Ale challenge, which is pretty much exactly what the name suggests, get more information on the Trail to Ale challenge on their website.
Kimberley, B.C – a place to get away from traffic, full calendars and all things marked ‘urgent’
Kimberley is a town where you feel relaxed, like really relaxed. If you’re from the city when was the last time you can say you felt completely relaxed? Maybe it was on a nature walk, or in your backyard or maybe it’s only when you actually get out of the city. If you’re asking the questions where can I relax and forget about all my worries while on vacation – Kimberley is your answer.
What to try – swimming in gorgeous St. Mary’s lake, it’s super fun & super free! There’s not only swimming at St. Mary’s Lake you can also canoe, kayak, stand up paddle board, fish or just float! If you’re looking to rent some water sports equipment check out local company Kootenay Rafting for options. St Mary’s is home to some of the most gorgeous views in the region, Instagram worthy pictures for sure (and everyone needs to document their best vacations on Instagram). For even more options of what to try in Kimberley, check out my blog from last summer – ‘12 (plus) reasons to visit Kimberley this August’.
Where to drink – Overtime Beerworks in Kimberley may be the youngest of all the breweries on our list, starting in 2016 – don’t let that deter you though, their beers are brewed with the sophistication of a much older brewery and they’re quickly making a name for themselves further than just in Kimberley and are available in a variety of cities and towns in British Columbia and Alberta. All their beers are brewed in small batches, making each of them slightly different with the unique flare of each individual batch – try local favourites like the ‘Mountain Standard’ Golden Ale or the ‘Right About Now’ IPA.
Golden, B.C – the friendly mountain town
Golden is another one of those ultimate outdoor adventure towns on our list, with a TON to choose from in regards to outdoor activities. Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort are frequently named in magazines with annotations such as ‘extreme’, ‘challenging’ and ‘adventurous’ and while it is all of those things, it’s also a place to chill out and enjoy adventures everyone can try. For example…
What to try – the Via Ferrata at Kicking horse Mountain Resort is an amazing experience not to be missed while in Golden. While it admittingly does look pretty hardcore, it’s actually a mountain climbing trek even novices can accomplish and feel comfortable while doing so. Via Ferrata courses are a series of iron rungs and handles mounted across the mountain face that novices and expert climbers can do, all the while strapped into to a safety harness – an added bonus of the Kicking Horse course is the suspension bridge you need to cross to get to the Via Ferrata course, it’s an experience in itself! In fact, if the Via Ferrata is still a little too hardcore for you – the Suspension Bridge can be done on its own without having to continue onto the full course. The sense of wonder and accomplishment you’ll feel after achieving the Via Ferrata course or just crossing the Suspension Bridge is enough to make anyone want a beer!
Where to drink – The Whitetooth Brewing Company is the place to go in Golden, not only do they offer their own unique and delicious beers (that goes without saying), their outdoor patio is one of the best in Golden with an epic view of the surrounding mountains. There are quite a few beers to choose from that fall into three categories – ‘West Coast Inspired’, Belgian Inspired’ and ‘High Gravity’ – no matter what type of beer you enjoy you’re sure to find one that suits your taste buds here. The Brewery doesn’t have a huge capacity and is usually busy – they open at 2pm so make sure you go early and you might just get to sit here, I can’t think of very many better seats than that!
Fernie is a winter wonderland in more ways than one this holiday season! Sure, there’s the legendary annual snowfall and seemingly unlimited terrain but there are also many cheer-filled events coming to the resort just in time for the holidays.
There’s nothing quite like an old-school scenic sleigh ride to make you feel jolly. With friendly horses and a comfy sleigh that winds through the majestic forests surrounding Fernie Alpine Resort, this is a sure-fire way to get you into the Christmas spirit. From December 21 to January 5, sleigh rides will be running daily between 12 and 7 p.m. for $15 a person. If a private evening sleigh ride is more your speed, then group bookings can be made at Guest Services for groups of up to 11 people. This blissful and relaxing outdoor activity is a great way to kickoff the holidays.
And the fun most certainly doesn’t stop there. Saint Nick himself will be making a special visit to Fernie Alpine Resort for two days on December 23 and 24. He heard how great the skiing is and couldn’t resist a last minute stopover in Fernie before his big night. You can hit the slopes with Santa between 10 a.m. and noon and then head into the daylodge to tell the man in the jolly red suit your wishlist as you pose for a photo. He’ll be in the daylodge until 2 p.m. so you can be sure to snag a photo either the traditional way or in our new Santa photo booth! Elves will be on hand to email the pictures free of charge.
This holiday season is jam-packed with particularly fun activities for the little ones (aged 6-12). The Griz Kidz Holiday Program will keep the kids busy and give the parents some time to get the Christmas shopping done! The activities cost $5 per child but you can book any five Griz Kidz activities for only $20. One of those could be the Crafty Kidz nights on
December 22 and January 1 where parents can drop the little rippers off for some supervised craft time. Another could be building gingerbread houses on December 27 or even the mini carnival on the 29th. If you’ve got an aspiring snowboarder in the family, you don’t want to miss the Burton Riglet Snowboard Demo on Boxing Day. With a costume party on January 2, cooking night on January 3 and a games night on the 5th, your little tyke will have plenty to keep them occupied over the school break. All Griz Kids holiday events run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and registration can be done through Guest Services.
Another way to keep the kids busy this holiday season is with the Kids Christmas Ski & Board Camp. For only $269, kids from ages 6-12 and of all riding abilities will get three full days of on-mountain instruction from our expert instructors. The camp runs from December 26-29 and will focus on skill development, guided discovery of the mountain and of course, fun! Contact the Winter Sports School to sign up today.
For starry fun for all ages, hit up the Mighty Moose for a moonlit ski on December 23 and 24 as well as from December 26 to January 6 between 4-9 p.m. Bring the whole family out for some evening turns on the Mighty Moose and remember, your day pass is valid for night skiing as well! Otherwise, tickets can be purchased for $19.95 plus tax for adults and free for everyone under 17 years old. This is a great way to get all that you can out of your day pass and is especially great if you’re just not ready to stop riding at 4 o’clock!
Finally, one the most exciting nights of the year is celebrated across the globe and Fernie is no exception! New Years Eve is a chance to start-over, make some changes, or just continue living the great life that you do. Either way, we want to celebrate another year of awesomeness with you! Bring the whole family down to our New Years Eve party to enjoy a number of free and fun activities. Everything kicks off at 7 p.m. with arts and crafts, a photo booth and more in the plaza area. The night culminates with a dazzling display of fireworks over the Mighty Moose at 9 p.m. If you parents out there aren’t quite ready to end your night off so early, drop the kiddies off at the Griz Kidz New Years Eve party, but remember to sign up first.
Little Griz Kidz will have a pizza party, dancing, games, snacks, fireworks, and a movie (with popcorn, of course) just for them on New Years Eve at the Griz Kidz New Years Eve Party. This particular party is a paid event and requires pre-registration at Guest Services so make sure to book your spot! Kids 6 and up are invited to this fully supervised event, with two different options. Drop the kids off early (6 p.m.) or attend the family party together and then drop them off a little later (9:30 p.m.). The professional staff will keep your children safe and happy until 12:30 a.m. so you can ring in the New Year in style!
So, like we said, there are tons of events to help you get in the Christmas spirit at Fernie Alpine Resort this year. We hope to see you on the slopes!
“HOLD TIGHT, FÉLIX! WE’RE COMING TO GET YOU!”
“I’M IN DEEP! BUT I’VE STILL GOT ONE SKI.”
“10-4! WE’RE ON OUR WAY. RESCUE MISSION INITIATED!”
The nine-year-old boys climb up the mountain through hip-deep snow to save Félix. In reality, they’re directly under the Bear Chair, and they climb about five yards, but in their imaginations they’re deeply immersed in a backcountry survival situation.
Sadly, I see mere snippets of the mission on a shoddy helmet-cam recording. I missed their remote, life-and-death adventure entirely. Why? Because I had the brainstorm of not getting a season’s ski pass that year. Here’s my logic: I’m the hockey mom so that sport takes me away from Fernie a few weekends. I work in Alberta so lose other potential ski days there. I decided “it’s not worth it.” Or more precisely, I decided I am not worth it. Everyone else in my family has a season’s pass, even if they don’t make it up to the hill every weekend.
When I saw that video of my favourite nine-year-old boys, rosy cheeked and fired-up on adventure, I wished I’d been there. After two years with no ski pass, I’m declaring project No-Pass a failed experiment.
Because you know what happens when I don’t have a season’s pass? I don’t go skiing. In the morning, I decide I should wait until after lunch and get the half-day rate. Already I’ve missed the best part of the day: fresh powder. By noon, while the rest of my family flies high, energized by fresh air and exercise, I’m hitting the post-lunch lethargy. So I decide maybe I’d better stay home instead: there’s laundry to do, emails to answer. When the family comes in at 4:30 giggling about a day of snow fun, I’m grouchy because I’ve spent the afternoon folding clothes and scanning social media. But I’ve saved money!
That saved money will not be what I remember when my kids have grown and gone.
My husband always tells me: “You’re not supposed to think about getting a season’s ski pass. It’s the Fernie Fun Tax. Like any tax, you pay it and then you forget about it until the next year.” He has paid his Fernie Fun Tax every year since 1995. He has never once regretted it.
He’s right. In two years, I missed many fun days on the hill. Katie’s first ski race. Crazy Helmet Day. Ollie’s first black diamond run. Pink-clad Katie straight-lining full speed into the SLOW sign (I know, ski patrol friends, not funny, totally not, obviously).
This year my experiment draws to a close. When it comes to Ski Fernie, I am all in: season’s pass, priority parking, new gear. When my kids look back on their 2018 ski season, I will be woohooing my way down Red Tree right beside them. I can’t wait.
See you up there, Fernie Friends!
Photos by Powder Matt, Rob Heule & Mark Eleven Photography
There are places that call themselves 5 star campsites. Have you ever been to a campsite that gives you 5 marvelous experiences with you starring in them? Fernie Alpine Resort mountain top camping did that for a group of 3 of us. We had arrived at the base of Fernie Alpine Resort. Cory, Cennia and myself. We were met by the resort staff that was going to aid us during our stay. Nels, Dini and Kelly. It was 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon. The weather hot and dry. The resort base was filled with people. Some milling about, others heading off to do summer activities that the resort had to offer. Like biking, hiking and sightseeing. We were about to do a night of camping on top of the world. Dini had checked us in and issued us our lift tickets. Nels chatted us up with the lay of the land and what to expect. Kelly and others helped unpack our gear from the car and load it into the suburban. Our camping gear was to take the mountain road up. We were to take the Timber Express chairlift up.
THE LIFT RIDE UP
Nels and Dini walked us to the Timber Express chairlift. Cennia requested to go up the chairlift first by herself. She wanted to take pictures with her new Cannon camera. Cory and I were to follow. As the chairlift scooped us up, Cory said “Here we go”. At that moment, the chairlift swept us upwards, grabbing our bodies with a mild force. I saw a rush of excitement in Cory’s eyes. Seconds later he was exclaiming, “I have never been on a chairlift before!” “Has this got your adrenalin up?” I asked him as the swing of the chair ended. “Oh Yeah”, he replied in an affirmative voice. We settled into the ride up while admiring the breathtaking 360 degree view. The chairlift climbed higher and higher. Up and over the light green vegetation we rode. Over the tall dark evergreen trees we sailed. We spoke enthusiastically at the changing terrain and distance below our feet. “This is awesome”, Cory stated. After eleven minutes of riding up we arrived at the mountain top campground area.
THE LOST BOYS CAFÉ & OUR CAMPSITE
Disembarking from the chairlift, we headed over to the Lost Boys Café. A mountain-top café with an outside deck. It was the central location of the mountain top campground with secluded camping spots near it. As we entered the Lost Boys Café, Dini offered us cold refreshments. We each took one and walked out on to the deck. An impressive spectacular view of looking down into the Elk Valley was before us. The miniature town of Fernie below with lines in the valley floor that were roads. This was an amazing vantage point. Nels, took us to the deck railing and told us about the valley and a little bit of its history. He pointed across to the tops of other mountain peaks giving us their names. Cennia was taking pictures with her new camera. It was all so peaceful and serene. Next we sat in large chairs taking in all the majestic scenery, chatting and enjoying the hot summer day. The deck had a metal fireplace with no fire. There was a ban on open fires due to a hot and dry summer in the region. That was OK. The place was fully licensed and the staff attended to all our needs. It was time to head over to our campsite and set it up, a two minute walk away. There we unpacked our gear and everyone pitched in to set up our tent. I remember Dini getting the tent rods ready and Kelly orchestrating the rise of the tent. Nels handing out the tent pegs. Tap, tap, tap went the hammer on the tent pegs. Everybody pitched in and within 15 minutes our campsite was set up. It was in a clearing on a small plateau nestled in by two giant mountain rock pinnacles called Mammoth Peak and Elephant Head. Mammoth Peak still with a small patch of snow in a shaded area. A picnic table was next to the tent plot. Green vegetation spread out from the plot to the base of the rock pinnacles and surrounding tree lines. It was a fantastic camping spot. This was where we were going to spend the night under a full thunder moon.
THE GUIDED HIKE
After enjoying the campsite for a while, we headed back to the Lost Boys Café for refreshments. There we relaxed and again enjoyed ourselves on the deck of Lost Boys Café. We were going to explore. Visit the Lost Boys Lookout and travel over ancient sea beds uncovering fossils of ancient times. Not before long we were on our way. Parts of some trails were lined with a strings of rocks on each side. Other parts had lush leaves, flowers and bushes along the path. We hiked though sections with trees aligning the path. Hiking up some and hiking down some. Nels and Dini would take turns narrating as we went along. Dini would point to some of the floral and tells us their names, explaining which one bloomed early and which would bloomed late. Nels with history lessons about the mountain and why the rocks were upside down in this area called the lizard range. All our questions being answered as we hiked along. We learned that the bottom branches on the trees that started high up from the ground was because that was how high the snow fell in winter. The Lost Boys Lookout was breathtaking with yet another stunning view of the valley. I even collected an ancient fossil along the way. All in all is was a sensational hike.
THE PREPARED DINNER
We returned to the Lost Boys Café to relax, drink and mingle. Entering the café, I now saw a table set with white plates, wine glasses and silverware. It was a setting for 6. A barbecued dinner was being prepared for us. Kelly, Dini, and Nels were to join Cennia, Cory and myself for a delicious dinner. I realized we all were enjoying each other’s company and this was going to be a fabulous way to have a camping trip meal. Cory said, “This is great, we didn’t have to pack any food”. Dini and Kelly brought in the food from the deck and then we all sat down. The meal was barbecued steak. Skewers with vegetables roasted over the barbecue. Potatoes baked in the barbecue and a fresh green tossed salad. We dug in, dressing our plates with all the goodies that was set before us. Chatter was going around the table. Drinks being poured with the light clanking sounds of dinner ware. We were festive, enjoying a grand camping feast on a mountain top. The view as we ate was remarkable. The sun was about to set and I reminded Cennia that she wanted to get a picture of the Sun setting from the mountain top. She slipped away for a minute and did just that. After the meal we relaxed back on the deck. Telling each other stories about events in our lives. What a great day so far we all had. About an hour later we headed back to the campsite.
THE MOUNTAIN NIGHT
When I returned to the campsite it was dark, however there was just enough light to make out where you walked without a flash light. No open fire was allowed. The three of us sat at the picnic table, reflecting on the day’s events together. It was about 11:30 pm when the most spectacular thing happened. The moon started to crest over the pinnacle of Mammoth Peak. As it moved up I could see tiny black outlines of trees in its cresting circle. I gaped at it, feeling how lucky I was to witness on a mountain top, this thunder moon. As I stared at it I could see it slowly rising. Its glowing circle becoming full as it ascended up and over the mountain peak. Higher and higher it climbed into the night sky. What an awesome way to end night.
I woke up early and wanted to catch the sun rise from the Lost Boys Café deck. I got there just in time to take a picture. A tranquil peaceful morning was taking shape. Soon Dini and the others arrived. A tasty breakfast was served and by 10:00 am we had all our gear packed up and headed down the mountain via the chairlift. Like the mild grabbing force of the chairlift the mountain top adventure had grabbed me. Like the amazing vantage point at the Lost Boy’s Café, I was amazed with what I saw and experienced. Like the history lesson, I learned of new friendships with the staff. Like the festive meal, the camping was joyful and hearty. Like the full moon, the camping trip had thunder!
‘Ralph Waldo Emerson (Poet) once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.’
-Paul Hawken (environmentalist/activist)
Luckily we don’t have to wait 1000 years to enjoy the night sky view. This summer, don’t watch tv, don’t scroll all night through Instagram and don’t stay indoors. Get outdoors and sleep the closest you can get to the stars at Fernie Alpine Resort’s quintessential mountain top camping experience.
You’ve heard of camping. And you’ve likely heard of glamping (glamorous camping). Well at Fernie Alpine Resort, we’ve taken camping/glamping to whole new heights – by putting it at the top of the mountain! That’s right – up your camping game this summer by riding the Timber Chair at Fernie Alpine Resort to the (timber bowl/lost boys café) for a camping experience unlike any other, in fact, the first lift serviced camping available in North America!
Your unique camping experience starts at 4:00 pm at base of the Timber Chair, then it’s up the lift to your camping area to set up your campsites (hosts are available to assist). After a guided hike you’ll enjoy a raclette dinner at Lost Boys Cafe followed by S’mores by the campfire. The next morning after breakfast at Lost Boys Cafe and camp clean up make your way back down the chairlift or feel free to explore the mountain more by hiking and sightseeing. The whole trip is topped off with some of the most amazing views of the Elk Valley, don’t forget to Instagram the images to create all the FOMO for all your followers!
But you don’t have to take our word for it, take this guests’ word instead!
‘We had a great time “glamping” at Fernie Alpine resort. Well organized, beautiful views, excellent food, interesting short hikes and wonderful company. The fondue dinner was really delicious and coffee and drinks on the deck at Lost Boys Café with a fire and view over Elk Valley made a perfect end of the day. It was a very easy way to get a great camping experience, enjoy the wildlife and still have the luxury of having access to very good comfort and cooked meals. We have recommended the experience to all our friends and we believe this will turn out to be one of the “musts” to do when visiting Fernie.’
Book your mountain top camping experience now!
I didn’t discover mountain biking until my mid-twenties. While Fernie’s epic trail network, both in town and at Fernie Alpine Resort had yet to be developed in my youth, mountain biking has become such an integral part of Fernie it’s difficult to remember it any other way.
After graduating, the lure to come home was strong. I spent every possible moment in Fernie and noticed a big change during the summer months. Bikes… they were everywhere. I decided to take a friend up on an offer to go for a ride. That friend was Emily Brydon, and she decided Verboten was great way to start (a Black Diamond at the top of Red Tree Road just off the ski hill.) A group of us rode from Timberline Village, and I was mesmerized as we crossed bowls I had only seen on skis. This feeling quickly shifted to fear and defeat as we made our way down the technical trail.
A few years later, I moved home and decided to park my car and buy a mountain bike. It was 2006, and while I still had a tremendous amount of fear, I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I fell in with a fantastic group of women who supported and pushed me and were integral to me falling in love with the sport. In August of that summer, I watched in awe as rider after rider crossed the finish line of the TransRockies and thought… I’m going to do this one day. And I did.
While I love the accomplishment of finishing a race, I get the same feeling nearly every day riding in Fernie. Trail development and enhancement has meant new entry level and flow trails are available, along with more challenging and technical rides and everything in between. I love this about mountain biking. It allows everyone to test themselves whatever age, level or style of rider, and in turn can expose them to a side of themselves they may have long forgotten or didn’t know existed. The same goes for Fernie – it never saw itself as a summer destination, but mountain biking has sure shown us something different.
I bike a lot, from the first trails to show themselves in the spring, to the last trails to be covered in the fall. Typically during the week I stick to trails in town for the ease of a quick early morning or evening ride just out the door. A favourite loop is Hyperventilation to Hyper Extension, and slipping into Ridgemont to finish on Oh Dear if there’s time. But on any given Sunday I can be found in Mount Fernie Provincial Park, heading to Fernie Alpine Resort via Old Goat and Mega Hurtz or the newly revitalized Ben Emmett. From there, I catch a lift and laugh and giggle all the way down beautifully manicured trails like Duff Dynasty, Top Gun and Eville. And on the way home, I always climb my way to Verboten for the final descent, and remember how times have changed. For the better.
The snow may be melting, but Fernie Alpine Resort is just starting to warm up for our closing weekend! April 15th and 16th will bring the 2016/2017 season to a close the only way the Resort knows how: with a party! Events and activities for everyone, with the Raging Elk Powder, Pedal, Paddle Relay race and the Coca-Cola Slope Soaker to the live music entertainment both days, Fernie has something for you.
Since 1984, The Raging Elk Powder, Pedal, Paddle Relay Race has been a wonderful way to end the winter and test your endurance on your own or with a team. A four and a half kilometre spring ski or snowboard kicks the event off and brings participants to the bike transition. Once on the bike, contestants ride the six kilometre route from the Resort into Fernie to paddle their way back to the toward the ski hill along the awesome – and ice cold – Elk River. Don’t worry, the fun is not over yet!
From the the river racers either hand off their “baton” or transition into the run. It may only be two kilometres, but it’s no slouch, after more than 16.5 kilometres runners will begin the ascent up ski hill road and to the finish at the base of the resort. Some awesome prizes await contestants; there not just for winners either! Contestants are encouraged to dress up, in the past the race has seen costume clad teams compete as the “minions” from Despicable Me, super heroes (superpowers may or may not be necessary) and even a BLT sandwich!
If you don’t feel like competing but want to be a part of the event, we always need volunteers to help with marshalling and transition stations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more volunteer information. On course cheering squads are also highly encouraged!
Saturday doesn’t end with the PPP! Day 1 of the 9th annual Fernival Festival in the Resort’s plaza kicks off with a live show from the high energy classic rockers the Backroad Traveler Band. This Calgary based band will be playing some beloved classic rock covers for the crowd. After a quick stage flip, DJ Skratch Bastid will be keeping the party going in the Plaza with his world renowned skills. The day will wrap up with an epic performance by Wide Mouth Mason who will play hits from their 20-year career. The Emily Brydon Youth Foundation will be on site to collect donations through various activities during the day.
In case you didn’t get enough live music on Saturday, for the first time in Fernival history a second day will be added to the lineup, bringing Fernie favourites BC/DC to the Plaza stage.
Sunday will also have the ski bum tradition – The Slope Soaker. Participate or come watch contestants do their best to make their way across a large pool at the base of the Mighty Moose Run. Costumes, and splashes are guaranteed for viewers and a portion of event proceeds go to Fernie Search and Rescue, who will be on site to pull waterlogged contestants from the icy cold pool.
Many of the closing weekend’s events have limited participation, so be sure to sign up with Fernie Alpine Resort’s Guest Services to reserve a spot for you and your team.
Words: Bryn Catton Photos: Jordan Johnson, Robin Siggers, Tourism Fernie
Spend your day skiing beautiful groomed runs on the lower slopes at Fernie Alpine Resort with the younger members of your family. Then take the older children and teens up to the bowls where you can teach them to shred knee deep powder. Take a break for a coffee at the mountain top Lost Boys Café and make sure you find the hidden tree run for the kids off the Deer Chair. Wrap up your day in a slopeside hot tub and swimming pool before heading to one of the restaurants on the hill for dinner. This is what a day at Fernie could look like for your family;
Ten Reasons your Family will Love Fernie Alpine Resort
- Levels of progression beyond the magic carpet. Start on a gentle beginner hill serviced by the Mini Moose magic carpet before moving on to the Mighty Moose platter lift and a longer hill, perfect for learning to connect some turns. Once the kids can successfully ski the Mighty Moose, they are ready for the Deer or Elk Chairs, both of which have perfectly groomed runs great for beginners. In total there are 16 runs on the lower mountain, 12 of them green runs for novice skiers.
- Night skiing on the Mighty Moose. Try some fun family-friendly skiing Saturday nights from 4-9 pm on the Mighty Moose platter lift. Kids 17
and under ski for free on this lift with adults only paying $18.95 + GST. (And you don’t have to pay anything extra if you already have a lift pass from the day.) The area is lit with great visibility and is conveniently located next to the village accommodations and restaurants.
- Multiple places to warm up on the hill. Reward the kids with a hot chocolate at the Lost Boys Café, found at the top of the Timber Chair. There are bathrooms at the top of the lift and the views across the valley are very beautiful from the patio. The café also serves Starbucks Coffee, beer, and hot food. Another place to warm up is the Bear’s Den Hut and Yurt located at the top of the Elk Chair, again with bathrooms, hot food, and drinks. (And next time I’m definitely buying a hamburger here because they smelled amazing!!)
- Multiple dining options in the village. I get tired of cafeteria food at ski hills and don’t like having to squeeze into a crowded day lodge for lunch. Fortunately, Fernie has several options in the main village area including my favourite spot for a snack or lunch, the Slopeside Café. Here you’ll find a fireplace, sandwiches, soup, and fresh baking, Starbucks Coffee, and small individual tables for your family. There’s also a Kelsey’s restaurant in the village if you’d prefer to order off a
menu and take a longer break. Finally, I love the couches in front of the fireplace at “Cirque” in the Lizard Creek Lodge for a coffee mid-way through my ski day. (And you don’t have to be staying here to visit the lodge)
- Dedicated beginner chair lifts with easy runs. Back to the skiing, we always start our day on the Deer and Elk Chairs to warm up before heading higher up the mountain. This gives us an idea of what kind of snow to expect for the day and allows us to test our ski legs on some easy grooming. Stay on these two lifts and you’ll never have to worry about your child getting ahead of you and accidentally dropping down a black run. The majority of runs off these lifts are easy green and blue cruisers with gentle grades.
- Kids tree skiing off the Deer Chair. Look for the secret Minute Maid Kids Trails off the Deer Chair and hope that eventually you’ll get to move on to another chair lift as many kids will want to spend the entire day here. The trails are twisty, windy, and perfectly sized for short skis.
- Variety for everybody in the family. My husband likes the double black chutes higher up on the mountain and lives for powder days in the
upper bowls. Meanwhile, I love groomed terrain and could spend hours cruising down “Falling Star,” the longest run on the hill at 5 km in distance from the top of the White Pass Chair. Add the easy terrain on the lower mountain for kids, and there is definitely something at Fernie for every ski ability and style of skiing. You can find grooming and powder on the same day, often off the same chair lift if you’re skiing off Timber or White Pass.
- An easy way down from the top of the resort. Kids will never be content to just stay on the lower slopes and will always beg you to take them up higher to the “top of the mountain.” Fortunately at Fernie, there is an easy groomed blue run, Falling Star, which runs all the way from the top of the White Pass Chair down to the bottom of the hill. There are a few flat sections where you’ll probably have to pull younger kids with your ski pole, but other than that, there are not too many steep pitches on this run. To make it easier, ski it down from the top of the Timber Chair (conveniently located right beside the Lost Boys Café) and skip the upper part off White Pass.
- Uncrowded space for everybody on the hill. With 142 trails, 5 alpine bowls, and tree skiing, people tend to spread out at Fernie and you’ll often find yourself the only person on your run. Stay away from the main run off each chair lift (the main run off the Elk Chair for example) and you’ll have plenty of space to practice your turns. One of my favourite runs on the lower mountain for solitude is “Holo Hike,” an easy groomed blue run, where you get to ski through two tunnels and weave your way through resort cabins. On the upper mountain, there’s a good chance you’ll have “Falling Star” to yourself and once you reach the lower flat stretches, you might actually think you’re off cross country skiing in the wilderness (not for everybody, but I like it.)
- Ski in, ski out accommodations on the hill. Stay at one of the condos on the hill and you’ll be in line for first tracks every morning after making a gourmet breakfast in your own private kitchen. Return to your condo for lunch rather than dealing with crowds in the day lodge, and then end your day on the slopes whenever you want (even if other family members are still skiing) because the hot tub is waiting for you! My son and I usually head to the outdoor swimming pool and hot tub when staying at the Lizard Creek Lodge by 3:00 in the afternoon, my husband pounding out a few more turns until the hill closes. We also enjoy staying on the hill in the evening so that my son can enjoy some night skiing on the Mighty Moose, we can go out to eat in one of the village restaurants (a short walk from any of the condos,) and so we can spend more time in the slopeside pool. Many of the condos and hotels on the hill also have common areas where you can eat your lunch or hang out with the kids Sunday afternoon after you’ve already packed up and vacated your suite.
See you on the slopes and enjoy your next visit to Fernie. Next time, I’m renting one of the resort’s fat bikes for an afternoon tour and I still have to return for the snowshoe and raclette tour! A weekend is never enough in Fernie and my family will be back for more!
What does it take to crown an Extreme Griz? Come find out on March 4 when competitors flex their manly – or womanly – mountain muscle. This legendary event kicks off at 11 a.m. with a hearty pancake eating competition at Station Square in Fernie.
From 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Fernie Alpine Resort, competitors will prove their skills with entertaining mountain games at the base of the resort. While events like axe throwing will have competitors throwing a double sided axe at a wooden target, it’s about more than
strength and skill. Extreme Griz King and Queen prospects will also be judged based on their ensemble, so the more mountain-esque their appearance, the better!
The Extreme Griz is crowned at Fernie’s Station Square at 4:30 p.m., and participants are invited to walk Fernie’s history 2nd Avenue amidst the Griz Days Parade celebrations at 5:30 p.m.
Everyone 19+ is invited to enter the Extreme Griz competition. The event is $10 to enter and sign up is required as spaces are limited. Contestants should be available on the evening of Friday, March 3, for an hour around 8:30 p.m. and need to be available on Saturday, March 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
To register for the Extreme Griz competition click here.
The final event of Griz Days is the Dummy Downhill where decorated “dummies” will dash downhill to delightful destruction on March 5th at Fernie Alpine Resort. A “dummy” for this event is a built structure on skis, it can be anything from a wooden rocket ship to the 45th President of the USA, the sky and your imagination are the limit. That said, we do have some rules to keep the competition fair, fun and safe so be sure to read the rules before you build!
The annual event is a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society where participants build their very own “dummy” and send them sliding down the slope beside the Timber Chair and off of a large jump. The air time is almost as good as the carnage factor when these dummies land.
This is a highlight event of the year and is an ideal event for the whole family to participate in or watch. The area is easily accessible by foot and does not require a lift pass. The first “dummy” will be sent at 1 p.m. but be sure to come early to ensure a good viewing spot!
To register for the Dummy Downhill take the jump here.
Blog: Bryn Catton, Pictures: Jordan Johnson