Avalanche Awareness Days
Fernie Alpine Resort joins Avalanche Canada, other resorts and clubs to celebrate winter and avalanche education through Avalanche Awareness Days on January 21st and 22nd.
Here in Fernie, we have a weekend full of interactive and educational activities in the base area and on the mountain!
There will be several activities going on during the day, including:
- Transceiver Hunt – Did you know that Fernie Alpine Resort has a transceiver training area? It is located on Heartland just above the 100% road. Come out and learn how to use a transceiver (or bring your own) and test your practice area skills. For every buried transceiver that you find, you will get an entry into a prize draw for great prizes from Helly Hansen and Avalanche Canada.
- CARDA Dog demo – Come out and meet one of our Avalanche Rescue dogs as they demonstrate what they do and the training that goes into an Avalanche Rescue dog.
- Snow Pit Demo – Join our pro patrol at the top of the Bear Chair as they will go through a snow pit profile and how they use it to gather information on the snowpack.
- Fundraising Auction – Come to the Griz Bar during Saturday Apres to score some great gear from Avalanche Canada sponsors. 100% of the funds raised will go towards Avalanche Canada.
Saturday, January 21st
1 pm – 3 pm: Transceiver Hunt @ Transceiver Training Area (located up the mountain on Heartland just above 100% road)
Apres: Fundraising Auction in the Griz Bar (the auction will take place during the band’s set break approx 4:00 pm – 4:30 pm)
Sunday, January 22nd
11 am: CARDA Dog Demo @ Base Area – Above the Winter Sports School Meeting Area near the Deer Chair
1 pm: Snow Pit Profile Demo @ Top of the Bear Chair
Huge thanks go out to our sponsors: Helly Hansen, Avalanche Canada, and our auction gear partners- Marmot, Arcteryx, and MEC.
Avalanche Awareness Days
Fernie Alpine Resort promotes safety in the backcountry with Avalanche Awareness Days. For one week, you can learn more about the dangers of avalanches, watch virtual demonstrations from our ski patrol, and practice your beacon and probing skills in the on-mountain transceiver training area. Don’t miss out as there are amazing prizes to win from our sponsors, Helly Hansen and Avalanche Canada!
Avy Savvy Challenge – January 18th – 23rd
Do you know everything about avalanches and the backcountry? Test your skills and knowledge with our Avy Savvy Challenge! Locations to our signs are below. Please answer each question on the sign and enter your response into our online platform. Each question answered enters you into one of our draw prizes sponsored by Helly Hansen & Avalanche Canada. Merino wool base layers, gloves, and so much more to win!! Plus, everyone that enters will receive a free one-month FATMAP Explore membership thanks to our friends at FATMAP.
How to play
- Visit each location below (choose a route that works best for you)
- Find our blue signs that say Avy Savvy Challenge (all signs are inbounds and posted beside the trail/mountain signs or on a bamboo stick)
- Answer the questions and enter them in here: CLICK HERE
- Each question answered is another entry into our draw prize!
(HINT – Visit Avalanche Canada’s Online Avalanche Tutorial to brush up on your knowledge before)
Location 1. Weather Plot (IMPORTANT: DO NOT ENTER THIS FENCED OFF AREA – sign is posted on a bamboo stick outside)
Location 2. Entrance Access to Backcountry Area Lost Boys
Location 3. On-Mountain Transceiver Training Area
Location 4. Top of Bear Chair Beacon Check
Location 5. First Aid / Ski Patrol Top of White Pass Quad
Location 6. Top of Timber Beacon Check
January 22nd – Visit Paul & Drift in the Avalanche Dog Training Area
Paul and Drift will be in the Avalanche Dog Training Area from 11am – 1pm on Saturday 22nd. Feel free to stop by and say hi to this dynamic duo. They will also be there to answer any questions you might have about what they do to help keep everyone safe at FAR.
Location: Straight off of Timber Chair – Straight onto Fallingstar – Area is right above Freeski Training area.
Buried Treasure Challenge – January 22nd-23rd
Bringing back last year’s challenge!
HOW TO PLAY & WIN PRIZES:
- *UPDATED TIMES* Drop into the Avalanche Transceiver Training Area between 10 am – 1 pm on Saturday 22 and Sunday, January 23rd.
- Bring your transceiver and probe or borrow one of ours (we recommend you practice with your own equipment if possible).
- Choose your difficulty level (easy, medium, hard), which will determine how many signals you have to find—the more difficult the challenge, the bigger the prizes.
- To complete the challenge, you must find all the transceiver signals in the Avalanche Transceiver Training Area with a successful probe strike for all of them.
- Once you’ve completed the challenge, our event volunteers will draw you a random prize from the corresponding prize draw (easy, medium, hard).
Game rules and COVID-19 Safety Plan:
Here is our plan for how we are going to run the buried treasure game safely and effectively within the current COVID-19 guidelines.
- Only one cohort group will be allowed at the Avalanche Transceiver Training Area at one time.
- If the Avalanche Transceiver Training Area is occupied, other participants will be asked to come back later (no waiting on-site).
- All social distancing rules of 2 meters apply while at the Avalanche Transceiver Training Area.
- It is recommended that participants use their own transceiver and probe if possible.
- We will have two spare sets of equipment for use.
- Our event volunteers will thoroughly sanitize any borrowed equipment to participants before the new participant can use it.
- All staff, volunteers, and participants must wear appropriate face coverings at all times during this event
- All staff volunteers and participants must follow all the rules set out by Fernie Alpine Resort surrounding COVID: https://skifernie.com/covid-19/winter/
- The prize draw will be done solely by event volunteers
- Once a prize has been selected, guests will collect it from a safe distance on-site
Thank you to our amazing sponsors Helly Hansen | Skiing, Sailing & Outdoor Apparel | HH CA & Avalanche Canada and their sponsors – MEC and FATMAP
It’s a Dog’s Life at Fernie Alpine Resort
The Avalanche Rescue Dog program is an integral part of the snow safety and avalanche program of the Fernie Professional Ski Patrol. Dogs have been used in avalanche rescue situations since the early 1900’s and because of their heightened sense of smell, tracking abilities and agility they are some of the greatest rescue assistants.
We currently have 6 validated Avalanche Rescue Dog teams: Steve Morrison and Neko, Forest Latimer and Tarn, Kirk Gutzman and Digger, Jennifer Coulter and Pika, Megan Kelly and Mogul, plus the newest certified team of Sean Caira and Tabor.
Meet our avalanche rescue dogs who live and train with the lucky members of our ski patrol team:
Neko – (ski patrol assistant: Steve)
One of our veteran avalanche rescue dogs, Neko is a 6.5 year old Labrador Retriever who has taken part in several rescue missions. Working closely with his human assistant Steve, they have over 35 years of combined search & rescue and ski patrol experience. Neko is Steve’s second certified avalanche rescue dog.
Neko is an extremely friendly and personable dog and is our go to dog for on hill demonstrations. Here he is teaching us about his job during our Avalanche Awareness Days, held annually each January. Neko and Steve can often be found at the top of the lifts doing drills and other exercises to keep their skills sharp.
Tarn – (ski patrol assistant: Forest)
Tarn is a Border Collie and like many avalanche dogs, Tarn started training to be able to find people in an avalanche situation at just 8 weeks old. He was officially validated as an Avalanche Rescue Dog in 2011 at the course held right here in Fernie.
Now at 8 years old, Tarn and his human assistant Forest are daily companions. They ride the lift together in the morning, (occasionally mixing it up with a snowmobile instead) and ski down to the base at the end of the day. On a usual day at work for Tarn, there’s time for a little bit of play at the patrol shack at the top of the mountain although he’s always ready for a rescue mission if need be. Forest has been a ski patroller at Fernie Alpine Resort since 1998, and is on our avalanche forecasting team. He is a Professional member of the CAA, as well as being an avid backcountry ski tourer. Watch this Youtube video to learn more about the ski patrol program at Fernie and to see Tarn working and playing around on the mountain.
Digger – (ski patrol assistant: Kirk)
Digger is a yellow Labrador Retriever from Eromit Kennels in Quesnel, BC. His birthday is January 25, 2011 making him 6 years old this winter. He validated (got certified) with his handler Kirk Gutzman at the annual CARDA (Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association) course at Kicking Horse Resort in January 2013. Digger is Kirk’s second avalanche dog (his previous avalanche dog was Lily) and he has been on the Fernie patrol since 2000. Digger loves his days out on the snow with Kirk and is fuelled and graciously sponsored by Horizon dog foods. Check out this video of Digger and Mogul working on the mountain.
Pika – (ski patrol assistant: Jennifer)
Pika is a 7 year old Belgian Malinois, and Jennifer’s second certified avalanche dog. Pika is always ready to work, and is happiest when giving 110% (or more)! You might see this team working fun obedience drills near the patrol huts, or doing practice searches around the mountain. Check out this video to see Pika in action. Jennifer has been with the Fernie ski patrol since 2001, though now has more of a part time presence. She works full time for Avalanche Canada in the South Rockies Field Team, and is the Instructor Coordinator for the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association.
Mogul – (ski patrol assistant: Megan)
Mogul is a 2 year old German shepherd who was validated at the course in Whistler January 2016! His human assistant, Megan Kelly, has been a ski patroller for nine years at Fernie and is one of our snow safety educators, talking to schools about our snow safety programs. When not training, Mogul loves playing with his favourite toy- a ball on a rope. You can often see him and Megan at the top of the mountain practicing his obedience and having lots of fun. Here’s a video of Megan and Mogul training last winter near the Lizard Bowl top hut.
Tabor – (ski patrol assistant: Sean)
Tabor is a black Labrador Retriever and the newest member of the avalanche rescue dog team. Tabor was born in Quesnel, BC but it wasn’t long before his handler Sean and his wife Emma came and picked him up. He was a little unsure at first to leave his brothers and sisters but soon learned that his new home in Fernie is a pretty great spot too. Tabor fun fact – he and Neko are half brothers!
Tabor will be turning 2 this winter so he still has LOTS of energy and LOVES to play. Sean and Tabor always have lots of fun on the mountain and you can see them around playing and doing training exercises. His handler Sean is his favourite person and if you see him on the mountain playing with Sean, please keep your sharp ski and snowboard edges away. Tabor and Sean were validated this January 2017 here at their home resort in Fernie!
Check out this video for more information about our avalanche program at Fernie Alpine Resort and be sure to come check out Avalanche Awareness Day (January 28, 2017) for demonstrations of avalanche dog skills, the avalauncher shooting t-shirts, avalanche transceiver beacon training and more!
Words: Steve Morrison. Pictures: Jordan Johnson