Each season Fernie Alpine Resort strives to make improvements and upgrades to our existing services to ensure that you have the best vacation and recreational experience possible.
As a lot of you know, this summer the Timber Chair has been undergoing a significant makeover. The work that is being done is extensive and time-consuming but will add an extra 25 years onto the life of the chair.
In May, a crane and a D8 dozer travelled up the mountain to remove the gearbox out of the Timber Chair top station and transport it down to the maintenance shop. The gearbox was then successfully rebuilt by our maintenance team, in conjunction with an engineer from Austria, and transported back to the top of the lift and re-installed.
The delivery of the 2nd communication line for the electrical upgrade was delayed by three weeks and arrived the second week of July. The comm line is approx 1.8M/ 2.9KM long and weighs 6 Tons; a crane was required to lift the cable off the delivery truck. The cable was loaded to a specially prepared trailer for transport to the Timber unload /top station to be prepared for pulling in. The comm line carries electrical signals through for the safety circuits between the load and unload stations to ensure the safe running of all equipment.
In mid-July, on a cold and rainy day, up to 30 staff, including the electrical crew, pull the cable by hand from the Timber top station to the load at the base. They had to go from tower to tower, up and over every tower top and through the rollers. It was a massive effort by our Mountain Operations team and at the end of the day, rain-soaked and cold, they were all still smiling.
The next step was for the electrical crew to go through the process of setting the tension of the cable between every tower and terminating the electrical connections.
The panels that drive and control that chair lifts start, run and monitor all the safety devices and stop the controls, arrived on August 16th and installation began right away. The panels were installed in a day, but it took three weeks to connect all the wiring between the drive/control panel and the station and to verify that it was working correctly.
During the week of September 23rd, the lift is expected to start turning. We will be testing the setup and ensuring the correct functionality.
The load test is planned for the beginning of October. This involves loading the chairs with weighted buckets and performing a series of safety tests to ensure everything meets the manufacturer and Technical Safety BC standards.
Then, on November 30th (tentative opening date!), the Timber Chair will be waiting for you to take a ride. We can’t wait!
The annual Brushing Program for the Fernie Ski Resort is having a very successful summer. The cooler weather and lower Fire Danger ratings have allowed the crew to keep working through the dog days of summer without restrictions due to Fire Danger. The crew this summer has also been doubled to allow us to catch up a little on the past couple seasons where High Fire Danger has shut us down or limited our progress. The crews have been hard at work in many areas across the mountain.
There has been a new line cut down Snake Ridge as well as cleaning a new line down the North Boundary for those that are looking for the Steep and Deep that Fernie is famous for.
Additionally, we have been working on core areas on the Lizard Side that focusses on terrain that is open at 9 am on most big snow days. The Sunny Side has had a new haircut that extends down onto the China Wall and old Griz Lift line that will provide some early deep turns on those Pow Days.
Boomerang and Boom Ridge has received another mow and will be prime for early season riding providing steep turns right out of the gate.
New Side lovers will also see some changes to the lines in the Alpha Centauries and Currie Chutes areas as well as the lower elevations of the Big Three as we cleaned up the exits from those thigh-burning runs. In addition, core areas around the Timber Bowl, Surprise, Black Cloud have all been touched.
Our Summer Mower Cat was rebuilt from a repurposed Snowcat this Spring and will be out in anger this fall to mow many of our main runs including all our beginner terrain on the lower mountain and runs where all the rocks and obstacles have been removed such as Bear, North Ridge, Kodiak, and many others.
It is a giant mountain, and we have excellent growing conditions. People ask why don’t you just cut it all? Sounds like a good idea but when you are standing at the bottom of Cedar Ridge looking up at acres of 12 foot high Alder, you start to feel pretty small. When you dive into Cedar Ridge early season and have that perfect line top to bottom down the King Fir don’t forget to think about that person that has spent their summer on the end of a saw making that possible.
We are looking forward to an awesome season.
There are many things in this world that we take for granted. The way that we move and our freedom to walk, run, ski and bike are undoubtedly some of them.
It’s not so hard.
Want to go skiing? Go.
Want to climb a mountain? Go.
Want to go downhill mountain biking? Go.
I have a question, what if you had no legs? Would the ‘go’ be as easy?
This past Saturday was International Ride MTB Day, and we had the honour of having Mack Adams, a shredder from the Elk Valley, spend the day with us here at Fernie Alpine Resort. Mack is an upbeat guy who is always keen for a chat and, ALWAYS keen to send it on the mountain with his friends.
You wouldn’t guess it to look at him, but Mack is a double amputee who lost both of his legs at ten months old due to a congenital birth defect. He hasn’t let that stop him.
At the age of 12, Mack learnt how to bike, using outriggers (adult training wheels), with the help of Mark Hall, owner of GearHub. He then tried his hand at dirt jumping but found that his true biking passion lay with downhill mountain biking.
So, once again, with the help of Mark from GearHub who loaned him a Rocky Mountain Maiden, on Saturday Mack was back up at our bike park, in the pouring rain, getting his laps in. At one point I asked him if he was doing ok. He answered, “Yeah, but my ankles are starting to hurt.” His friends told me that these kinds of jokes had been flying around all day. His stoke was high, he was having fun, and watching him do his thing was inspiring! What a great way to spend International Ride MTB Day.
Mack has a dream of riding every trail that we have in one weekend, and Fernie Alpine Resort is working with Mack to help him make it happen. He is also a keen basketballer, volleyballer and loves to play his guitar – basically, nothing will stop him once he has set his mind to it.
What a legend.
Downhill mountain biking in Fernie is exhilarating, and often breathtaking.
The downhill trails here at Fernie Alpine Resort are in prime condition and riding beautifully.
Come and check out what it’s all about, and advance your skills, in one of our mountain bike camps or lessons!
NEW! ADULT CO-ED DOWNHILL CAMPS
Are you comfortable on green & blue trails but want to develop your downhill riding skills? Join us for our new adult co-ed intermediate weekend camps – focusing on progression to more technical descents, roots, rocks, drops, jumps & obstacles. With small group sizes, our certified professional coaches will help take your riding to the next level. Camp includes 10 hrs of coaching over two days, lunch, lift tickets, and bike maintenance session. Ages 18+.
Dates: July 13 & 14 / August 10 & 11 Time: 10am – 4pm. Price: 2 day camp $229 / 1 day camp $139
WOMEN’S MOUNTAIN BIKE CAMPS
MTB designed by women for women! These camps are catered to various levels of riding ability and are led by qualified female instructors. Camps include skill sessions, bike maintenance, lift tickets, instructional trail rides and lunch.
Dates: July 13 & 14, 2019 / August 10 & 11, 2019
Time: 10am – 4pm
Price: 2 day camp $229 / 1 day camp $139
MOUNTAIN BIKE PRIVATE LESSONS
For the beginner or hardcore rider — have a lesson tailor-made to suit your skills! Rates are based on 3 people per lesson — price includes instruction only. Lift ticket is required. Participants receive a 20% discount on bike rentals for the day of their private lesson.
DISCOVER MOUNTAIN BIKING
Discover the thrill of Downhill Mountain biking under the expert guidance of one of our bike coaches. Learn the basics and gain confidence! Minimum 3 people per lesson and a maximum of 10 people per lesson. The clinic includes a 3-hour coaching session, 3-hour bike rental and 3-hour lift pass. Rates based per person. For ages 8+.
Days & Times: Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays & Thursdays from 10am-1pm
PEAK TO PARK TO PINT BIKE TOUR
Join us for a fun afternoon of biking! Starting from the top of the chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort, cruising downhill to Mt Fernie Provincial Park and then pedalling through town to enjoy a refreshing sampling of East Kootenay beers! Includes guiding, lift ticket, and post-ride sampler drinks. Guests then have the option to take our complimentary shuttle back to the resort. Minimum 2 participants. Ages 19+.
Fridays & Saturdays
1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Tail crew primarily spent this week on the Lizard Lane.
-On Monday, we finished all the machine work and began hand shaping.
-Tuesday & Wednesday were spent dialling in the shapes of features and hand packing.
-After Wednesday night’s rain, we spent Thursday repacking Duff Dynasty, Monorail, Case Closed and began packing on Mr. Berms.
-From Tuesday to Thursday we’ve had a machine in the Aggravated Assault Extension tree island. More info to come on this project over the next week!
See you on the trails!
Trail Crew 🚵
We have lots of exciting work going on at Fernie Alpine Resort this summer!
This year Trail Crew were able to start their work earlier than ever, and it has been very productive.
Our progress so far has included:
- A full rebuild of Monorail and lower Duff Dynasty
- We’ve finished all the machine work and shaping on upper Mr. Berms tree island (carrying on from where we left off last year)
- New squirrel catcher berms on upper Will Power
- The Lizard Lane is underway!
We’ll be doing weekly updates with a few teaser photos.
See you on the trails,
Summer is just around the corner, and we’re excited to have three amazing outdoor adventure camps to keep your kids entertained and having fun all day long!
Experienced camp counsellors & bike coaches are ready to fill your child’s day with action-packed adventures and exciting new knowledge that they just can’t wait to share with you!
On Saturday, 54 community volunteers came out to prune, thin, rake, chop, drag and dump twigs, logs and debris from the high-risk areas of the Thunder Ridge and Highline Drive, neighbourhoods at Fernie Alpine Resort.
What an incredible turnout for FireSmart Day!
Here at FAR we take wildfire safety very seriously. We have been actively working with our local fire department and the local community to take the necessary FireSmart precautions. Becoming FireSmart takes time and coordination with your neighbours, and we are lucky to have wonderful homeowners who take the responsibility seriously and have worked hard to lessen the risk surrounding their homes.
FireSmart is living with & managing
for wildfire on our landscape.
The Fernie Fire Department, who is a driving force and impetus for the FireSmart program in Fernie provided the volunteers with leadership, moral support and tools for the working bee.
It’s incredible to see what a community can do when they come together. The transformation is remarkable!
Thank you to our awesome RCR crew, Robin, Andy, Tyler, Tyler, Paul & Ugo who hauled endless piles of debris to the RCR burn pile.
Thanks also to the sponsors, and those who provided donations to the volunteers, Jason Andreola (Royal LePage), Sandra Goode (ReMax), Fernie Tim Hortons, The Chopstick Truck, FireSmart Canada and The Co-operators.
Timberline Condos will be holding their Work Bee on Saturday, May 25th, so if you are able to help/support, please email us at [email protected], and we can pass onto the right people.
A huge thank you to the volunteers from Thunder Ridge and Highline Drive. Your hard work is truly appreciated!
If you would like to learn more about wildfire preparedness, you can refer to the FireSmart Canada website which has a wealth of information www.firesmartcanada.ca.
Please, don’t forget to continue to be FireSmart throughout the spring and summer!
Griz Days are coming up, and it should be no surprise that the legend himself celebrated by giving us 55cm powder days.
So when you’re not waiting for a giant man with a musket to blast down more powdery goodness, what can you get up to this weekend? As always, here at Fernie Alpine Resort, we have lots of fun activities planned, as well as even more engaging events happening in town. Get all the details for epic Griz Days events you won’t want to miss!
Let’s get started with what’s going on around the mountain…
To kick things off, on Friday we have Ski with Griz. The Griz will be hanging around the resort and photo ready between 11:00am and 2:00pm. He’ll be in various spots throughout the day including Lost Boys and the Bears Den so be sure to follow our social media to see where he’s at. Don’t miss your chance to meet a true Fernie snow legend.
On Saturday, kids from ages 6 to 12 are challenged to see if they have what it takes to be The Griz. The Junior Griz Training Ground is back and proudly hosted by Fernie Alpine Resort this year. This event includes the Griz Obstacle Course, Log Toss, Kid Friendly Axe Throwing and more, and it’s FREE! The event runs from 11am to 1pm, but be sure to head into Guest Services between 11am and 12:30pm on Saturday to register and pick up a training card. The first 100 training cards to be returned will receive an epic treat bag! Don’t forget to dress up for this year’s theme, Griz Days Gone Denim, because there will be prizes given out at 1:30 in the plaza for the Junior Griz Costume Contest.
Last but certainly not least, the ever exciting crowd favourite, Raging Elk Dummy Downhill, is happening Sunday, March 3rd! Channel all your creativity, ingenuity, and imagination into your “dummy,” and then, our favourite part, watch the carnage fly as they are launched off a jump of destruction! Ok, ok, we might be just a little excited! It goes like this: Registration is from 11am to noon at the bottom jump next to Timber Chair. At noon all Dummies will be assessed by the judges, 12:30pm the Dummies will head to the top, 1:00pm they meet their doom! At 3:00pm, in the Daylodge, we will have the awards ceremony. 100% off the proceeds from registration will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. Entry fee is a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society (Minimum donation amount is $20). Entries can bring their donations (in cash) to the check in on the event day or can do their donation online here.
Click here for all the contest rules for dummy assembly.
The magic of Griz Days continues in town, with tons of amazing events and activities, so many in fact that we can’t mention them all in one blog. Here are some of the highlights –
Join the Arts Station on Friday at 4:00pm and 6:00pm for a theatrical performance of The Griz Myth Adventure, where the audience gets to choose the ending. Entrance for this fun night of theatre is only a toonie! Yup you heard right, we’re not loonie, it’s just a toonie! Ok, that was bad. If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat, why not spend your Friday in the Griz Days Pub Crawl? Starting at 3:00pm at 9 different bars and pubs around Fernie, your ticket includes refreshments at each location, transportation from the ski hill to town, food and epic prizes.
Kick off Saturday with a pancake breakfast starting at 8:00am at the Community Centre, and then enjoy beautiful handmade goodies at The Griz Days Craft Fair starting at 9:00am. You can also try your hand at snow golfing on Saturday from 9:30am at the Fernie Golf Club. Fernie’s fiercest and “Griziest” competitors battle it out for the title of The Griz from 11:30am at the Extreme Griz Competition, located at the Park Place Lodge and various locations around town. Feel the burn with a Hot Wing Eating Contest, starting at 4:00pm at the Fernie Hotel and Pub. 5:30pm on Main Street downtown kicks off the ever fun and fabulous Griz Days Parade. Watch out for the Fernie Alpine Resort float strutting their finest denim and blasting t-shirts from the Avalauncher! And finally, end Saturday with a BOOM in Station Square with a spectacular Griz Days fireworks show, starting at 8:00pm.
For a full list of events happening both at the ski hill and in town click here.
We wish you a fun, magical, and powdery Griz Days 2019!
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