Have you ever seen a dog riding a chairlift? How about a dog skiing next to its owner? Or even crazier, a dog being long-lined under a helicopter? These are just a few of the skills that make avalanche dogs… Super canines!
Meet Mogul, a four-year-old German Shepherd who adores his ball and will do anything for fresh veggies. When Mogul isn’t falling asleep with a ball in his mouth or receiving never-ending attention, he also works as a Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog AND a Search and Rescue Dog. This means Mogul has a job all year round, making sure his handler, as well as anyone venturing into the backcountry, can play safe. So what exactly does it take to become an avalanche dog? To answer that question we caught up with Megan Kelly, Assistant Ski Patrol Director for us here at FAR, and companion to the amazing, Mogul.
Preparation for the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) certification begins when a puppy is just six months old. It starts with simple obedience training such as following commands, playing tug-of-war, and getting the dog to chase objects or people. It gradually progresses to the handler hiding and having the dog come find them. Eventually, they progress to open snow caves, where someone can hide, awaiting discovery. The snow caves go from being open to having closed off walls. The last step in the progression is using articles, usually, pieces of wool fabric saturated with human scent, buried under the snow. The dog eventually learns that in a real avalanche situation it is very unlikely they’ll have clues, so they need to rely on the scent of a human rising from under the snow to help find them. Finally, the dog is able to be given a command, like “search”, and will have the control to do their work and search for a missing person. The final test to complete certification requires the dog to search for 40 minutes, looking for two articles buried 75 centimetres under the snow to mimic a live person. CARDA certification takes a year and a half to complete and requires dogs to be tested every year in order to keep up their certification. Handlers are also tested every second year to make sure their skills are still up to date.
So what can an avalanche dog achieve that aids in a successful rescue? Simply put, it would take a search and rescue team up to four hours or more to search one hectare of terrain. It takes an avalanche dog just thirty minutes to achieve the same results. With avalanche dogs being so quick, agile, and possessing a highly sensitive nose, they use their training to identify human scents and track it right to the source.
Fun fact time! Did you know that Fernie has the privilege of the first live rescue done by an avalanche dog in Canada? That’s right! In the early 2000s, Robin Siggers and his avalanche pup Keno recovered someone who had been caught in an avalanche in the backcountry without a transceiver. It was this circumstance as well as inspiration from other handlers in town that caught Megan’s attention. In describing why she decided to become an avalanche dog handler Megan said, “I was inspired by that working relationship, you know the fact that you can bring the dog to work. There’s also a chance you can really make a difference in someone’s life or you can save a life, I just wanted to contribute to that, and it’s a good way to volunteer.” Megan and Mogul are part of the 40 other volunteer search and rescue members in the valley and are on call 24 hours a day. There are two other full-time avalanche dog and handler teams, as well as a few part-time teams, who not only serve Fernie and area but can also be called provincially to aid in rescues.
But don’t think it’s all work and no play! According to Megan, Mogul is a best friend who receives all the best treatment. “Mogul really loves just being at the top of the lift at Bear top and just hanging out and saying hi to everyone. When he retires he’d like to be a Public Relations dog.” When the working vest is off, Mogul loves to bask in the attention of the public, but when the vest is on he’s much like a celebrity who has learned to ignore the praise of their adoring fans. No paparazzi, please!
Steve Morrison, who is a member of the ski patrol team at FAR and handler to avalanche dog Neko, cautions the general public to be aware that avalanche dogs are working dogs. “…We want people to be friendly, but just at the right time. After I take his vest off is a good time, because otherwise, that’s the cue that the dog is working. I’m usually fine with people approaching the dog, as long as they ask me and maybe remove their skis or snowboard first…”
Speaking of meeting our super avalanche dogs, we are happy to be offering two demos to show off their stuff on February 23rd! Avalanche Awareness Day is coming your way, and it should come as no surprise that we’ve got plenty of fun and educational activities planned in the plaza and on the mountain. From 11 am to 2 pm we’ll have an Avalanche Awareness Information tent set up in the plaza. Don’t miss your opportunity to meet and watch our avalanche dogs in action, happening at 11 am AND 2 pm at the base of the Deer Chair. And finally, join us for an après fundraising auction in the Griz Bar, the proceeds of which go to Avalanche Canada to support their educational initiatives.
So why should you take the time to become more avalanche aware? According to Megan, the backcountry invites you to learn and discover. “The backcountry has given me so much in my life. I’ve learnt so much about myself, I’ve connected with nature, I’ve developed these cool skills by going into avalanche terrain in the winter. But I’ve done that by being avalanche aware and keeping myself safe, having the right gear and knowing how to use it. That’s opened up this whole world for me, which is why I encourage people to go ahead and become avalanche aware, so you don’t have to avoid that terrain if you don’t want to. You can engage in it and learn something about yourself.”
So whether you are shredding it up with us at Fernie Alpine Resort, or having an adventure in the backcountry, be aware and most importantly… Stay safe and play safe!
For more information on CARDA please visit here.
You can also watch the following informative video, and see a dog flying from a helicopter, by clicking here.
More information on Avalanche Awareness Day here.
To see Mogul in action click here.
Feature photo of Mogul by Abby Cooper
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.
The future of Canadian freeskiing was in Fernie this past weekend in an action-packed competition sponsored by Jeep, Rossignol and Smith Optics. One hundred competitors from Western Canada and the United States descended on Fernie Alpine Resort for the two day Jeep Jr. Freeski event.
At the competitors meeting on Saturday morning, spirits were high as kids aged 7-18 fidgeted in their seats, eager to hit the slopes for inspection. With their bright red bibs over their snowsuits or attached to their hips, the 100 competitors hiked up to the venue, Big Bang, a Fernie favourite run with a steep pitch, snow-covered trees and several natural features scattered about. Kids and coaches took their inspection run, picked their lines and then… we were off!
We started with the 7-11 Girls who absolutely wowed the judges with their style. Even more impressive was seeing the winners on day two take their spots on the podium and realizing just how young and tiny some of these little rippers are. No matter how small though, the 7-11 Girls were some of the fiercest skiers on the mountain!
We followed it up with the 7-11 Boys who showed speed and control coming down the steep pitch on Big Bang. Next was the 12-14 Girls, who showed no signs whatsoever of intimidation as they charged the mountain and started showing off some tricks over the features!
The 12-14 Boys were no exception to the excellent skiing we saw on the weekend, showing us that they’re the ones to keep an eye on as they grow and mature into expert skiers!
The air at the start gate was practically sizzling with electric energy as the 15-18 Girls prepared to make the drop. Between the hugs, high-fives, fist-bumps and pep-talks the vibe was one of excitement and support! As each competitor dropped down onto the run, cheers and shouts echoed around the valley. The 15-18 Girls absolutely killed it, throwing some big air and skiing some crystal clean lines.
Then, the big boys came out to play. The 15-18 Boys were no joke when it comes to awesome tricks and big air! They hit every feature they could manage, throwing 360s, spread eagles and all manner of grabs and twists and turns!
After a full day of skiing, a weary but still energized by adrenaline group of competitors met up in the Daylodge to learn their fates. Head judge Jeff Holden stressed the fact that they’d seen some phenomenal skiing all day but that the cuts had been made. Fifty percent plus one of the competitors would be coming back to battle it out for the finals….
It was a slightly more anxious group of skiers who gathered in the Daylodge the next morning. The temperature had dropped overnight, meaning that nice soft snow they’d enjoyed on Big Bang the day before had transformed into something a little more solid. The judges took a couple test runs down the venue and decided that although the snowpack was hard, it was edgeable and the competition could safely go forward! After hearing this news, the energy started to turn from anxious to amped. The finals were a go!
Once again we started off with the 7-11 Girls and although they all did their utmost best as the first ones down the slope, it was Annika Cooper from Kimberley who impressed the judges the most with a score of 60.30! In second place was Anjah Morgan-Smith from Lake Louise and in third, Fernie’s own Ivy Wright.
Now that the girls had broken up the hard snow and ice a bit, the 7-11 Boys came racing down! And what a competition this category was! In the end, it was Issac Hulme from Fernie who snagged the top spot with a score of 60.30. Joseph Lesage-Reid from Kimberley was hot on his heels in second place and not far behind him was Elek Wenzlawe, another Fernie local in third place.
The 12-14 Girls category saw a bit of drama as competitor Ava Lund from Lake Louise took a tumble and had Patrol help her down. We hope you’re feeling better Ava and we want you to know that your first run was truly impressive!! As Ava was getting the help she needed on course, some snowy weather started rolling in, meaning visibility for the last few categories was a little bit sketchy. No matter, the 12-14 Girls powered through it like the powerhouses they are and after a tough battle, Eden Amundsen from Fernie came away victorious with a score of 57.63! Kiara Bertsch from Lake Louise took second place and less than a point behind was Andorra Wright from Fernie.
With the snow thickening, the 12-14 Boys took to the start gates. With shouts of encouragement and jubilation ringing from the top, Ashton Chilton from Lake Louise impressed everyone with his 65.73 point run! Second place went to Mason Scott from Whitewater and third to Justin Darnborough from Red Mountain.
The judges paused to consider the visibility issues and considered switching to a split judge set-up but decided to push forward. They had confidence in the 15-18 Girls and they were right! Despite the conditions, the girls wowed with their style and confidence and Jade Regehr from Lake Louise ended up taking the top spot. Neve Richards from Fernie was hot on her heels though and third place went to Ella Engelhard from Missoula.
Finally was the 15-18 Boys. Everyone was expecting big things after watching them ski yesterday and the crowd gathered at the bottom of Big Bang were not disappointed. With a stunning score of 66.27 points, Fernie’s own Levi Wright took the top spot! He was joined on the podium by two more Fernie boys, Roy McPherson in second place and Tyler Stack in third.
As the winners collected their prizes, they flashed big smiles at a room full of cheering parents, coaches and friends! The next stop for these young freeskiers is Kicking Horse this weekend and Kimberley Alpine Resort on February 24&25!
For a list of day one results, click here: https://skifernie.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Day-1-Results.pdf
For a list of final results, click here: https://skifernie.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Final-Results-1.pdf
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!
Welcome back Fernie!
Another year of unbelievable powder and excellent riding is off to a flying start. Opening day saw people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities hit the slopes at Fernie Alpine Resort and it was nothing but smiles, some new and some familiar in the line-ups on Deer and Elk chairs Saturday morning before the line drop.
Excitement was in the air as campers yawned and crawled out of their tents and early birds met them in the maze. Even the Griz made an appearance and managed to grab the second Elk chair of the season, after stirring up some buzz in the crowd of course. As the minutes, and then the seconds ticked towards nine o’clock, voices swelled in a giant countdown. Five… Four… Three… Two… ONE!
After first chair, the smiles got even bigger as skiers and boarders discovered a snowy powder paradise in Cedar Bowl. With five lifts and approximately 35 runs open on opening day, everyone was happy with the conditions and chomping at the bit to explore the rest of the mountain.
Lucky for them, we can announce that the Timber Bowl Express, White Pass chair, and Moose slope will be opening on Saturday! Get ready to head over to see what the new side has to offer in terms of early season snow or learn some turns on our beginner slopes. After less than a week, we can now boast 65 open runs and that number is sure to sky-rocket on Saturday.
And that’s not the only new and exciting thing coming up this week. Fernie Alpine Resort has a new destination for delicious dining and it’s opening Friday, December 8th at 11 a.m!
Legends Mountain Eatery is new to the resort this year and we couldn’t be more excited to explore their scrumptious menu of daring and dazzling food. Located in the plaza, this mountain eatery is both convenient and comforting. Make sure to stop in and give it a try, that is if you can tear yourself away from the mountain long enough to grab a bite to eat!
Although you’ll certainly see many familiar faces among the staff at Fernie Alpine Resort this season, we also want to welcome hundreds of new staff members to our team! These are the people that work hard to make sure you have the best possible time skiing, riding, and relaxing in Fernie so show them some love.
With good vibes and even better snow, we couldn’t have asked for a better kick off to the 2017/2018 winter season. We hope to see you on the slopes!
Photos by: Steve Reed and Fernie Alpine Resort
Fernie Alpine Resort is proud to co-host the premiere of the new Warren Miler Film “LIne of Descent presented By Volkswagen”. Fernie Alpine Resort, our patrol team and patroller Kevin Giffin are all featured in the film this year so come out and see your favourite mountain on the big screen!
Join us at the Vogue Theatre Fernie BC on November 23rd at 7pm to catcht the show. Tickets are $15 and are available for purchase at the Vogue Theatre and The Guide’s Hut downtown. Limited number are available. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will go towards CARDA (Canadian Avalanhce Rescue Dog Association).
ABOUT THE FILM: This fall, don’t miss Warren Miller’s 68th ski and snowboard film, Line of Descent, presented by Volkswagen. Follow athletes Tommy Moe, Kalen Thorien, Collin Collins, Lexi duPont, Marcus Caston, Seth Wescott and more as they travel the globe, by land, air, and sea, exploring the ties that bind ski culture. From BC to France, Montana to Colorado, California, Norway, and New Zealand, new generations of skiers and riders are pushing their sport to new extremes. Join your tribe and cheer on the official kickoff to winter with the ski film company that started it all. As the family grows, the traditions growricher. Don’t miss Volkswagen presents Warren Miller’s Line of Descent—deeper and fresher than ever. Go towarrenmiller.com for more.
My family loves touring new towns on our bikes and the best loops always include at least one playground, a bike park, a stop for ice-cream, and a spot to cool off. Fernie has all of that in a short 8 to 15 km loop (depending on which trails you link together.)
The Main Town Loop combines several easy trails that are all relatively flat. As a family, you will enjoy pleasant trail riding on well-maintained gravel or dirt paths. Most of the loop is double track and Chariot-friendly as well. The only challenging sections for us have been on the Old Stumpy Trail (which can be bypassed.)
The loop can be started at multiple locations downtown Fernie but we like to start at the dirt jump and skills park beside the aquatic centre and spray park on the corner of Pine Ave & Ridgemont Drive. We play at the bike park to warm up on the pump track and jumps, and then visit the spray park at the end to cool off. There’s also a short beginner mountain bike loop located behind the dirt jump park that helps kids gain an easy introduction to single track riding.
Once you’ve managed to convince the kids to leave the bike park, cross Ridgemont Drive and find the trailhead for the Kootenay Elk Trail. This easy trail poses no challenges as it crosses over a boardwalk and small wetland area (image shown). You’ll soon reach a junction for the Old Stumpy Trail and the Downtown Connector Trail. The connector trail makes a beeline for Maiden Lake and is the easy trail option. At the lake you’ll find a small rocky beach area and a great spot for a dip in the cool water if you’ve packed swim suits with you.
If you’re up for a challenge, take the Old Stumpy Trail and Great Northern Trail for a longer loop to Maiden Lake. This extension has some tricky spots and you’ll have to walk bikes when you come to a few short sets of stairs. Regardless of the technical bits on Old Stumpy, it’s a beautiful trail with an “old growth forest” feeling to it. It’s also a short ride until you reach the much easier Great Northern Trail which parallels the Elk River.
Once you’ve reached Maiden Lake, the riding gets extremely easy for a while as you continue on the Emily Brydon Trail along the Elk River and connect to the Dogwood Trail heading for the town Boat Launch. Shortly after the boat launch, go around the corner and then cross a small bridge. Here you’ll get on the Brewery Creek Trail heading for an old barn (main/top image). The bike tour ends with a short introductory section on the Coal Creek Heritage Trail (where you probably won’t want to be wearing white shoes since the trail is practically made of coal dust!)
You’ll end up back at the aquatic centre from where it’s a short drive or bike ride over to the Happy Cow Ice-Cream Store off Highway 3 (between 5th and 6th Street.)
Progressions for easy – intermediate family mountain biking
Once the kids have cut their teeth on the Town Loop, it’s time to move on to some other great intro-trails that are a bit more technical and offer a “real” mountain biking experience.
The Coal Creek Heritage Trail – This trail is divided into two sections, The Lower Coal Creek Heritage Trail and the East Coal Creek Heritage Trail. We rode a 9 km section of the trail and started from the “Townsite” parking lot on the East part of the trail. To find the parking lot, drive 6.3 km up Coal Creek Road from town, turn left at the bridge onto First Creek Rd. and look for the Trailhead Kiosk, 3 km further along on the left.
This is a classic “truck drop” ride (meaning, you drive up, drop the kids off, and they bike back down to town.) Either arrange the ride with a shuttle or plan to have an adult bike back up for the vehicle (as we did) because making the kids ride UP Coal Creek would not be a lot of fun for anybody. Fortunately, the bike park and spray park are right at the end of the trail so kids will not be bored while they wait for somebody to go fetch the truck.
While this is considered a “beginner” trail, I was pretty new to mountain biking when we rode it and I had to walk a few hills. Gears and hand brakes are imperative for safety and enjoyment on the ride.
The Lazy Lizard Trail – This is Fernie’s star trail for family mountain biking and is another popular “truck drop” for children who prefer riding downhill without a lot of climbing.
Start at Island Lake Lodge on the Upper Lazy Lizard Trail and descend down to the entrance of Mount Fernie Provincial Park on the Lower Lazy Lizard Trail (image shown). The trail winds through an old growth cedar forest with fun boardwalks and bridges. Expect smooth, even grades, with berms on the corners and wide bridges to ensure nobody falls in the creek. The trail is 9 km long and loses 500+ metres of height (why you probably will not ride it up with the kids.) Let the children enjoy the fun flowy descent and then send somebody back up for the vehicle while you play in the creek with the kids in the provincial park.
Montane Trails – The Montane area has a bunch of new trails, starting from the old barn/coal creek bridge. On these trails you’ll be rewarded with great views of the Lizard range, Mt Fernie and the 3 sisters.
And I’ve had two separate families tell me how much they love the new Montane Blue for Evyr Trail, a fairly easy section of the loop above. The ride can be completed by riding on Montane, a double track trail and a smooth easy ride.
Biking the Ridgemont Trails with Older Kids and Teens – For families ready to move on to some solid intermediate trails, Ridgemont has plenty to offer with hill climbs, fun downhill riding, flowy corners, obstacles and beautiful scenery.
Head up Cemetery bi-pass (image shown) and continue on to the junction where ‘KiddieUp’ is the middle of 3 trails that branch off. It is full of easy switchbacks to keep the grade bikeable for the young ones, and give them plenty of practice cornering. To complete a loop take a right onto the logging road, and about 200m down you can take another right onto ‘What’s up Doc”.
For something longer and more challenging, you could put together nearly any combination to make an excellent loop. Cemetery Bypass, Kiddie Up, Queen V, Ecoterrorist, Eric’s Trail, and Broken Hip are all intermediate trails that are popular with families riding with older children and teens.
Information on all trails here can be found on the Trail Forks website.
Progressing to Downhill Mountain Biking at Fernie Alpine Resort
Register for a Kids Freeride Mountain Bike Camp and let professional coaches introduce the kids to lift-accessed downhill riding at Fernie Alpine Resort.
The theme of the camps is “Teaching kids to ride hard and safe.” In the camps, kids learn basic downhill riding skills, gain confidence, learn to ride steep lines and to tackle challenging terrain at the resort. Discounted lift tickets and bike rentals are available for camp participants.
The resort will be holding four camps this summer for kids ages 8 – 16 and each camp runs for two consecutive days mid-week. Meanwhile, mom and dad will find no shortage of entertainment at the resort’s bike park. Adult lessons are also offered including the brand new mid-week Trail Warrior Camps for adults. These 3-day camps are designed for cross country riders interested in developing downhill bike skills.
My family has a gigantic list of trails we want to ride this summer so we’ll see you out there with huge smiles on our faces. My 8 year old (below) will be leading the way and will be yelling back at me to stay on my bike and to stop wussing out on every corner. 😉
Special thanks to Leanne Nanninga and Coleen Hughes for contributing to this story with trail suggestions, route information, and photos.
Fernie Alpine Resort was proud to honour 3 of our dedicated Mountain Hosts with long-term service awards this past winter. Glenn Sedgwick, Lyall Mahan and Wally Pfeifer have been 3 of the friendly faces that have been welcoming and assisting our guests for the past 25 years. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and congratulations to Glenn, Lyall and Wally!
Meet our amazing volunteers, who are out there in all weather conditions helping visitors to enjoy their mountain experience to its fullest!
“We moved to Fernie in 1989 as a result of a 3 year loan assignment from the Calgary Imperial Oil office to Byron Creek Collieries. Like so many others we loved Fernie so much we decided to stay here and raise our boys. Skiing and the outdoors was a great attraction for us, so in 1991 I joined the Volunteer Ski Patrol (CSPS) at the Fernie ski hill, then known as Fernie Snow Valley. Things have changed a lot since those early days. The ski hill consisted of only the Lizard and Cedar Bowls. The pro-patrol was small, about 6 people and the CSPS were responsible for the majority of the first aid work on the weekends. The Bear T-bar and Facelift serviced the upper mountain. The only way out of Cedar bowl was Cedar trail. During this period I also coached minor hockey and baseball. My wife Jeanette was enjoying the Fernie Host program, so in early 2000’s I joined too. I enjoyed touring and helping guests and proudly showing off our great mountain. I still love being a host, meeting and greeting people and enjoying the comradery of the host crew and it provides a break from my normal day job. It is great to get out of the house, enjoy the fresh air and get a little exercise. Maybe once retirement kicks in, I will be able to spend more time on this great mountain. “
“I originally came from the Saskatchewan flatland (Melfort), served 10 years with the Canadian Air Force, and then moved to Hinton, Alberta. While living in Hinton I was introduced to skiing at Marmot Basin. We moved to Fernie in 1981 but I didn’t take skiing seriously until I retired from Shell’s Line Creek mine. Retirement was cut short when Heiko Socher recruited me to do maintenance at the Griz Inn Hotel. This ski environment jump started my enthusiasm for skiing. Volunteering as a ski ambassador while at the hotel and with the Mountain Host program has been a rewarding experience as I enjoy promoting our ski hill to guests from around the world. “
“I moved to the quaint little town of Fernie in May 1979. Before moving to Fernie, I merely skied a couple times, skiing behind a ski-doo on cross-country skis.
I seriously started to downhill ski when the three daughters were fairly young (ages 7 to 9 years old) when they joined the Nancy Greene Program which was in the mid-80’s. Around about the same time, I also joined the Mine Rescue at Westar Mining where I worked. In 1990, I joined the Canadian Ski Patrol Program. In that first weekend of Ski Patrol, I administered more first-aid than I had done in five years on the Mine Rescue Program at the mine. I continued with the Patrol Program until 1997 which credited me with 7 years of volunteering with them.
The following winter I joined the ski-host pro-gram & presently am still a ski-host. My 25 years of volunteering seemed to have gone by way too fast. The glory years of ski-hosting was when we inter-acted with the guest by giving them 4 hours of touring the mountain; 2 hours in the morning on the old side of the mountain and 2 hours on the new side of the mountain in the afternoon. You knew when you did a good job when you seen all the smiles on the guest’s faces. Many of the toured guests came back year after year, became friends and some even retired and moved here. And, now some of them are the ski-hosts.
I will continue with the ski-host program well into the future. Now, I am the Duty Host for our Thursday Group. Come and say Hi. Thanks!”
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 email@example.com 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!