I like to take videos from the bedroom window of my Fernie house and email them to friends in Ontario. I’m a jerk like that. I start by focusing out over the forest, spectacular in a new way every season. I scan along the peaks of the Lizard Range out to the world-famous cat skiing operation Island Lake Lodge, and then I pop over to Mount Fernie, its green glory so impossibly close it seems I could reach out and touch it. I like to end the video with a bang by panning to the magnificent rock faces of the Three Sisters. Usually, I caption these videos with something witty and profound, like:
Fernie, BC: It’s Not Ugly
This is gloating at its worst. Look where I woke up today! Just LOOK! It’s as if I have to capture this natural splendor on video and present it to an envious audience in order to believe it myself.
I remember my first trip to Fernie in 1996. I took a picture of a friend in the Overwaitea parking lot, toque over her straggly hair, Mount Fernie towering behind her, the sky alive with a deep pink alpenglow. “Even grocery shopping is beautiful in Fernie,” I’d said. “I’ll never get sick of this view.”
Twenty years later, I can confirm: I never have.
Plus I’ve learned that it’s the kind of view that calls people out into it. I’ve stood atop each of those peaks that I showcase in my video. I’ve skied those runs.
When I’m at my happiest in Fernie’s terrain, skiing down Red Tree in powder to my waist say, I always think of my Swedish friend Åsa, her cheeks red with cold, her eyelashes full of snowflakes, her smile vast: “You are so lucky to live here!”
Åsa says the thing she loves best about Fernie is the activity. When Fernie friends get together, it’s not just to do coffee or have lunch or drink wine. It’s to ski or hike or bike. We get out into that view. We live it with our whole bodies.
But there are other pretty mountain towns with active residents. What makes Fernie the right one? When National Geographic’s “digital nomad” Andrew Evans came through town, he fixated on The Bean Pod and the high-quality chocolate products offered by owners James and Mary Heavy. The intricacies of the chocolatier process fascinated Andrew. He was also hooked, I think, on the family’s story of leaving Ireland and traveling the world to find just the right home for their product. Their quest for the best place to build the only bean-to-bar company in Canada led to this specific town of 5000 in the Canadian Rockies.
Though the particulars of the Heavy-family story are unique, the gist is common. People choose Fernie. They work to get here. They bring what they love. They live their passion. The shops lining Fernie’s main street – not a Gap or a Lululemon among them – reflect that character, that love. And if on especially snowy mornings, I find those shops locked-up and bearing POWDER DAY! GONE SKIING! signs, I understand. The signs remind me: yes, this small town is just right.
Photos: Henry Georgi
The World Ski Awards have released their 4th annual nominee list and Fernie Alpine Resort has been chosen as an option to be named Canada’s Best Ski Resort for 2016! Fernie needs your vote to win! Voting is now open and runs until September 23, 2016.
Vote on the World Ski Awards website today.
1) Lost Boys Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Timber Chair to the top and walk a short distance past Lost Boys Café over to the Lost Boys Lookout
What you’ll see: Amazing landscapes of the surrounding peaks of the mountains and of the town of Fernie below.
2) Eagle’s Eye at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and see the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant walkway in front of you
What you’ll see: Spectacular views of 6 National parks surrounding the resort (and eat a delicious meal as well).
3) Kimberley, B.C – Lois Creek Trails
How to get there: Parking is available at Centennial Hall. To enter Lois Creek Trails go to either the North End of trail Street, the intersection of 8th and Elko Street or at Centennial Hall at the old Legion Tracks.
What you’ll see: Gorgeous mountain vistas and a variety of wildlife along the trails.
4) Lizard Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Elk Chair to the top and walk a short distance into Lizard Bowl
What you’ll see: Stunning views of the Elk River & town of Fernie
5) Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – The Ultimate Mountain View
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and proceed to Eagle’s Eye, look for the tent to meet up with your guide and group. Once everyone is there you’ll do some training and head right over to the suspension bridge taking you to the Terminator Peak for the climb of your life!
What you’ll see: If you’re brave enough to turn around and take a look behind you’ll see a stunning stretch of mountains while hanging off the Terminator Peak including 6 National parks, the resort below you and Eagle’s Eye Restaurant off in the distance.
Main photo – Lost Boys Lookout, Fernie Alpine Resort
One summer afternoon riding the Elk Chair for an afternoon lap on the mountain bike trails I watched as a black bear sow and two cubs, browsed peacefully for huckleberries below the lift line. At Fernie Alpine Resort you’re never far from raw nature and mountain adventure. It is the quintessential resort for summertime exploration where you can spot deer, moose, bear and other wildlife in a natural setting, hike on alpine trails waste deep in wildflowers, explore windswept ridges from mountain peak to mountain peak and test your technical mountain bike skills on steep trail or ease into some flowy singletrack. Or perhaps, you’ll simply go in search of fossils with your kids.
Enjoy breakfast and an espresso in the resort village, then load the Timber Chair, your ticket to adventure as it shuttles you from the resort village to tree line and the trailhead for numerous hikes ranging from hour long outings to full-day ridge top rambles in the beautiful Lizard Range. Families can opt to walk among the Indian paintbrush, mountain harebells, cinquefoil and other flowers towards the wooden platform overlooking the Sand Creek Valley, and descend to a field of massive boulders known as the Mammoth Droppings, before circling back to Lost Boys Cafe for lunch with an astounding view over the Elk River Valley. Ambitious hikers might choose to scramble to the height of land and traverse a scenic limestone ridge, over the rounded hump of Elephant Head and on to tag the summit of 2134-metre Polar Peak, the highest point within resort boundaries. And the even more ambitious and experienced hikers may want to tackle the Mountain Lakes Trail, otherwise known as Heiko’s Trail. Built by Fernie legend Heiko Socher, founder of Fernie Alpine Resort way back in 1964, this 21 kilometer trail between Hartley Lake Road near the resort and Island Lake Lodge crosses two mountain passes and has everything you want in a mountain hike – meadows, waterfalls, caves, snowfields, soaring rock walls and more meadows. On any of these adventures, you might even find a fossil. Fernie is famous for them, especially for the legendary jumbo ammonite measuring 1.5 metres wide, discovered in 1947 in the Coal Creek Valley across the Elk River Valley from the resort. On mountain, you can visit another Fernie legend, Nature Bob in the Interpretive Centre at the top of the Elk Chair, go on a guided hike to bone up on local flora and fauna, or take a short stroll to see an equally impressive ammonite fossil.
Lift-accessed mountain biking? You bet. Elk Chair offers up a range of easy to advanced trails while all routes from the top of Timber are advanced and technical, with rocks, roots and drops on the riding menu. The base area at Fernie is also integrated with the region’s extensive X country trail system, with pedal-from-your-condo or hotel access to many trails linking the resort to Mount Fernie Provincial Park and beyond.
Near the base area you’ll find more fun for kids and adults, with a 500 foot long zip line that has you soaring through the air with the birds, and a skill and balance-testing Aerial Park with cool features like the Rickety Bridge, Shrinking Islands and Picket Fence.
There is something special about Fernie and the Lizard Range. Skiers and boarders have been drawn by the legendary powder for decades. However in summer, it’s equally special. The mountains, made accessible by chairlifts, take on a different character. Rugged ridges, meandering trails, cool forests, and colourful meadows – it’s a place that inspires you to get out and explore, on two feet or two wheels. Take your pick.
Words: Andrew Findlay
Images: Robin Siggers, Nick Nault & Brent Grabowski
Main Image: @calsnape
I remember weekend ski trips to Fernie with great fondness but up until recently we hadn’t ventured beyond local hills near Calgary. I guess we thought that a big ski resort like Fernie would be intimidating as a family, that there wouldn’t be enough beginner terrain to ski, or that it was just unnecessary to travel three hours to go skiing when we had Nakiska Ski Area on our doorstep. On all accounts I was wrong and we’re already talking about how we have to go back to Fernie next winter (if not sooner) – and oh please let it be sooner!
Fernie Alpine Resort is located approximately three hours away from Calgary and is reached via a scenic drive through the Crowsnest Pass as you cross the border into British Columbia. Heading to Fernie is extremely doable for a normal two-day weekend with an after-work departure on Friday. It’s even realistic to arrive in Fernie in time to put the kids to bed at their normal bedtime. (To save time, pack or buy dinner to eat on the road so that you don’t have to stop along the way.)
While you can easily find a motel in downtown Fernie, we were able to stay right on the hill on our recent trip and we might be forever changed in how we plan future ski trips. We had comfortable ski in/ski out lodging at the Lizard Creek Lodge, located right at the base of the Elk Chair (a great chair lift for novice skiers.) We had a one-bedroom condo at Lizard Creek that had a pull out sofa in the living room, making it plenty spacious for our family of three. Our condo had a full kitchen (making breakfasts super easy to prepare before hitting the slopes) and we had a very comfortable living area with fireplace and television (should we have wanted one.)
This was our first time enjoying ski in/ski out accommodations and a mom could get used to such luxury! There was no driving to the hill in the morning, no sharing a crowded day lodge at lunch time, and no dilemma over what to do when one of us grew tired of skiing mid-afternoon (while other family members still wanted to do more runs.)
A typical day at Fernie with on-hill accommodations could look a lot like this (based on our personal experience):
- 8:00am – Enjoying a relaxed breakfast in the newly renovated “Cirque” restaurant in the main building of the Lizard Creek Lodge.
- 9:00am – In line and ready to head up the Deer or Elk Chair with the kids (both fantastic for novice skiers with plenty of green runs to choose from)
- 10:30am – Back to Lizard Creek Lodge to warm up and grab coffee in front of the fireplace in the main lodge (no crowded day lodge for us!)
- 11:00am – Heading up the Great Bear Chair to try some more challenging family terrain
- 1:00pm – Back to our condo for lunch and a bit of R&R before heading back out for more afternoon skiing on some bigger chairlifts (bring granola bars in your pockets so you can postpone lunch a bit later in the day)
- 2:00pm – Heading up the Timber Chair to try out the “Falling Star” run (one of the easiest intermediate runs on the hill)
- 3:00pm – Younger kids done for the day and heading to the outdoor swimming pool and hot tub at Lizard Creek with Mom, also tired. Older children and teens could still be skiing strong. In our case, Dad skiing hard till the hill closed
- 4:00pm – Quiet time back at the condo, games, books, and relaxation before dinner. This could also be a good time to try some cross country skiing or snowshoeing on the resort trails. (Something I tried out Sunday morning.) Alternately, it’s a great time to head back to “Cirque” for drinks and appies in front of the fireplace
- 5:00pm – Heading for an early dinner at Kelsey’s over at the main resort area (they had great kids’ meals and it was a bit more family-friendly than the more decadent “Cirque” restaurant in our lodge
- 6:30pm – Night skiing on the Mighty Moose Lift (open Saturday nights from 4-9pm and included with your day lift ticket at FAR)
- 7:30 – Trying out the new Ice bar in the Lizard Creek Lodge for some Vodka tastings (make sure you try the salted caramel – yum!!) – and kids are welcome to come in and watch
- 8:30pm – Kids heading to bed ,watching a movie, having down time in the condo… – adults enjoying a glass of wine in front of the condo fireplace (and our condo had two televisions so in theory, the kids could be watching a movie in the bedroom while Mom and Dad chill in front of the fireplace)
We had a blast at Fernie Alpine Resort and we were pleasantly surprised at how much beginner terrain there was at the hill! We could have easily skied on the Deer and Elk chairs all day with a couple runs down the Great Bear Chair and Timber Chair for more challenge. The terrain off the lower chairs was immaculately groomed and perfect for novice skiers, with Falling Star off Timber also nicely groomed (I headed here first thing Sunday morning for the most amazing experience flying down the fresh corduroy on my own private run – not another skier in site on the whole run.)
We’re heading to Kimberly Alpine Resort soon and can’t wait to try out another great family-friendly ski resort with ski in/ski out accommodations again. Fernie has changed our ski style as a family and it’s doubtful we’ll be satisfied to spend every weekend skiing close to home anymore. Ski weekends bring the family together and we look forward to more mini-vacations like this in the years to come.
Words & Photos by Tanya Koob
Read about her and her families outdoors adventures on her blog – Rockies Family Adventures.
February 18-21st Fernie welcomes top Junior Freeski Athletes for the Jeep Junior Freeski Competition Presented By Rossignol and Smith Optics.
For complete event information please head to our events calendar here: https://skifernie.com/events/jeep-junior-freeski-presented-by-rossignol-and-smith-optics/
Competition Start Lists & Results Are Available Below:
February 19th Day 1 – UPDATE: Day 1 has been postponed. All athletes will run qualifiers tomorrow (February 20th)
February 20th Day 2 – Click here
February 21st Day 3 – Click here
Complete Results – Click here
Video Day 1 (Weather Day) – Click here
Video Day 2 – Click here
Video Day 3 – Click here
Photos – Click here
Thanks to our sponsors: Jeep, Rossignol, Smith Optics, Helly Hansen, Dynastar, Kootenay Communications, Old Dutch, Sun Rype and Campbell’s
Most people know the most notable numbers of Fernie, over 2500 Acres of terrain, over 1082 m vertical rise and 142 runs. But here are some other numbers to note from Fernie…
The amount of years Greg Barrow (aka G money/aka local legend) has been getting the coveted very first chair of the season. It all started with his tent being kicking off the resort, not Greg, just the tent. Read the
Lifts with the ability to move nearly 15,000 skiers around the mountain. Per Hour!
On mountain venues for your eating enjoyment. Including the family friendly Kelsey’s in the Plaza and Lost Boys Café at the top of Timber Chair with some of the best views of the resort.
Fernival year end parties. The tradition has been going for 8 seasons now, with a huge FREE outdoor concert to thank the community for the great support each year. Previous acts include Spirit of the West, Daniel Wesley, Trooper and 54-40, this year is featuring Platinum Blonde!
Hundred! The amount of feet in the world record shot ski attempt. This happened at Fernie as part of a wedding in 2013. Don’t believe us? Watch the video on our YouTube channel.
Beers on tap at Fernie’s newest restaurant Cirque in Lizard Creek Lodge. Cirque (formerly the Great Room) in Lizard Creek Lodge has bar seating as well as restaurant seating for all ages, with a plethora of delicious cocktails to try and 6 beers on tap!
Huge Alpine Bowls full of powder to snack on! Whether your favourite bowl is Siberia, Timber, Lizard, Cedar or good ol’ Currie bowl, you’re almost guaranteed to find powder stashes in one of the 5!
Avalanche Dogs on staff. An important part of our Ski Patrol program is our Avy dog program, 4 dogs training with 4 members of our ski patrol staff assist daily and are always ready to help out in the event of an avalanche. Read more about our Avalanche Dog Program in ‘Fernie’s Furry Hero’s”.
Story building – how much Fernie’s annual snow fall amount can cover (11 m/37 feet)!
Epic Après ski bars, located right in the plaza at Fernie Alpine Resort – check out The Griz Bar in the resort plaza, known for ‘Keepin Rippers Ripped’ since 1962 and also home to live après music weekly and some legendary parties. Or stop into Kelsey’s (especially if you’ve got some kids in tow), gather around the bar or hang out in the restaurant with the littles while enjoying your après beverages.
Legend of the Griz. There is one ‘person’ in Fernie credited with bringing the amazing powder to the resort each and every year. It all started with a baby boy born in a bears cave, followed by a battle and finally ending with a musket being shot into the cloud. Read the full Legend on our website.
HOW MANY FRIENDS YOU HAVE ON A POWDER DAY IN FERNIE.
Words: Cali Sammel
Photos: Robin Siggers, Sage McBride, Mark Eleven Photography, Dylan Siggers, Fernie Alpine Resort
Take a break from shredding the slopes and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate, piled high with whipped cream and topped with sprinkles! You can find this treat for kids of all ages at Kelsey’s, Lost Boys Cafe, Cirque Restaurant and Slopeside Coffee Shop.
2. $5 Meals at Kelsey’s
Taking the family out for dinner doesn’t have to break the bank. Every day at Kelsey’s, kids 12 and under eat for $5!
3. No School Ride Days
School District 5 kids are out of school on February 5th, 8th, 26th and March 28th and you need to keep them busy! Drop them off at the hill for a No School Ride Day hosted by our Winter Sports School. $55 will get them a full day lift ticket and lesson, $29 for a half day. Come in to the WSS desk at Guest Services, call 250-423-2406 or email [email protected] for more information and to register.
Every Saturday night from now until the end of March, come out and spend an evening with your friends on the Mighty Moose from 4-9pm. Lift tickets from that day are valid for night skiing. Children and Youth (up to age 17) can pick up a free night skiing ticket at the rental shop.
5. Mommy Ride Day
Does Mom need a break? Drop the little one off to have fun at our daycare while you head up for some ski time. Half-day daycare, half-day lesson and lift ticket for $69, available Monday-Friday. Contact Winter Sports School to book. (Don’t worry Dads, this deal applies to you too!)
If you’re wanting to get your little ripper onto a snowboard this year, head to the Rental Shop and ask about our Burton Riglet Snowboards. Our rental professionals can get them outfitted and our Winter Sports School instructors can provide top level instruction to get them started on the right edge. Riglet boards are intended for kids from age 3 and up, you can check out http://burtonriglet.com/ for more information.
7. Griz Kids Carnival
Saturday, March 12th is the Griz Kids Carnival! The plaza will be full of activities, games and entertainment that the whole family can enjoy. The best part of this carnival is that it’s all free!
Keep the kids busy and improving their skills on the weekend. Starting February 20th and running every weekend for 6 weeks, these programs are designed for ages 3-18. They will be skiing or riding with kids around the same age and ability level, and will be with the same instructor every week. For more information and descriptions of the camps available: https://skifernie.com/rentals-lessons/telus-winter-sports-school/kids-clubs/
9. Kids Birthday Parties
Celebrate your birthday at Fernie Alpine Resort! Available Saturdays during night skiing, you get access to Slopeside Cafe, Deck and Fire Pit. $10 per Guest gets one slice of pizza, veggies and hot chocolate. For more information and to book, please contact Stacey at 250-430-7163 or [email protected]
10. Secret Kid’s Area
If you turn left off of the Deer Chair and go down the Meadow run you’ll find the Minute Maid Secret Kid’s Entrance. Head into the trees and try to spot the mascots for all the RCR ski hills.
Written by Jordan Johnson
Photos: Vince Mo, Mark Eleven Photography, Jordan Johnson
Fly & ski in one day! With the new Integra Air service from Calgary International Airport (YYC) to the Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC) 6 times each week starting this month! Get more information, the schedule or book your flight from the Integra Air website.
Want us to do all the work for you? Give one of our reservation agents a call at 1-800-258-7669 to book your flight, hotel and tickets all at once!
From grinders to Burlapzzz – not many people can brag about how awesome their life is like Dylan Siggers can (and trust us, he has rights). Let us tell you why;
Dylan is what we refer to as a true Fernie local, meaning he is born in Fernie to parents who have been living here for some time (even though we technically don’t consider them locals)! Dylan’s Dad, Robin Siggers made his discovery of Fernie Alpine Resort while powder seeking, coming from Vancouver, he settled in Fernie and never left. Dylan, growing up in an incredibly outdoorsy mountain town, the adventure roots run deep in Dylan’s blood. In fact, Dylan’s Dad – Robin, is the mountain operations manager at Fernie Alpine Resort, allowing him to fall in love with mountain biking and skiing in a way few can.
On top of absolutely mastering the art of skiing (and mountain biking), Dylan’s passion is also in videography and photography. Branching into this industry with his strong background in the sport has brought Dylan and his crew around the Powder Highway and the world in their efforts to snap the greatest images, put together the most adrenaline pumping videos – all while seeking the greatest powder they can find.
Check out one of Dylan’s most popular ski videos ‘Kootenay Influence Episode 5, with over 60,000 viewson the Fernie Youtube Channel. His Dad, Robin, is also no stranger to producing viral videos, check out his most popular one with over 15,000 views First Run of the 2010 – 20111 Season also on Fernie’s Youtube channel.
With Dylan’s success filming in Fernie, B.C – his talents have expanded to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort, Nakiska Ski Area as well as doing work for Biglines, Line Ski and more.
Burlapzzz, Dylan’s most recent and more personal project focuses on having fun and has taken him and his ‘coworkers’ Josh & Brody Mcskimming to places across British Columbia and Canada with hopes of taking it even further (like the entire world!) and soon.
Not only an accomplished filmmaker, Dylan is in fact an amazing skier and community member – he’s won multiple Freeski comps, most recently placing first in the signature Wrangle the Chute event at Kicking Horse in 2014. His passion also runs deep within the community in Fernie, not only is he sponsored in his riding by many local businesses, he’s also one of the main organizers of the Wam Bam Dirt Jump Jam an annual celebration of mountain biking and music combined into one awesome festival.
Check out more of Dylan’s videos on his Vimeo Channel and stay tuned for more epic pow videos to come from him this winter!
Words by Cali Sammel
Feature Photo by Robin Siggers of Dylan Siggers