Fernie is a ski and snowboard mecca with cult status for its deep powder and adventurous terrain. Set in British Colombia, it receives huge amounts of annual snowfall and boasts the biggest vertical in Canadian Rockies.
To give you an idea of just how epic it is, we took a closer look at the stats and facts.
A bit about Fernie
Fernie is a small mountain town that dates back to 1898. A genuine mountain settlement – rather than a tourist resort – it has local charm and turn-of-the-century buildings that are framed by the Rocky Mountains. Downtown Fernie is the place to go for shops, restaurants, accommodation and bars, while the ski area of Fernie Alpine Resort is a couple of miles away via the regular shuttle buses.
30ft of snowfall per year
Fernie receives an average of 30ft (9 metres / 360 inches) of snowfall each year, with up to 37ft some winters – that’s enough to cover a three-storey building. And it’s not just the quantity of snow that’s so good, it’s also the quality of it. A combination of local weather systems and Pacific fronts are to thank for Fernie’s frequent dumps and feather-light flakes. With one of the best snow records in Canada, this is an epic place to ride powder but it’s important to remember that avalanche safety and respect for the mountain should be part of daily life.
-5 average winter temperature
Cold, dry conditions add to the snow pack’s supreme quality and sticking power. A few degrees colder than the European Alps, the minus five (23°F) average winter temperatures mean that you’ll need to wrap up warm – goggles and lots of layers are the norm, rather than sunglasses and bandanas. The season typically lasts from early December to mid-April.
2,500+ acres of skiable areas
Fernie Alpine Resort is one of the largest ski areas in the Canadian Rockies. With so much to explore, you can keep finding new surprises all season long. There’s a lot of variety too, from thick forests and open bowls to wooded glades, natural gullies and endless off-piste. If you want to explore a whole new discipline, the resort also has 50km of cross-country tracks.
3,500ft of vertical
Fernie has the biggest vertical in the Canadian Rockies, with a top elevation of 7,000ft (2,133m), accessed via the Polar Peak Chairlift. Renowned for its steep terrain, some runs go directly down the fall line, and the two main peaks – Grizzly and Polar – give great views across the Lizard Range and Elk Valley.
5 enormous bowls
The ski area is made up of five big bowls: Cedar, Lizard, Currie, Timber and Siberia. With their unique character, you could spend a whole day exploring each one. Currie bowl has some of the best steeps for advanced riders; Timber’s varied slopes and trees provide excitement for all levels; Siberia is known for its long runs and hidden powder; Lizard is popular with thrill seekers; and Cedar has great rollers and stunning views.
The lift network is made up of quad chairlifts, triple chairlifts and surface lifts. On typical days, the lifts open at 9am and close at 4pm. Queues are very rare but some lifts are a little slow, and be prepared for a few long traverses to access certain parts of the ski area. Polar Peak is the highest chairlift, taking you up to the resort peak.
142 named runs
Boasting the most ski runs in the Rockies, Fernie’s skiers and snowboarders have plenty of groomed and ungroomed terrain to choose from. From cruisy blue runs to steep blacks and knee-buckling diamonds, Fernie’s marked areas have something for all levels of challenge. Falling Star (blue run) is the longest, at 5km (three miles) long.
1.800+ acres of alpine trees
Fernie is home to some of the most extensive tree skiing in North America. Guarded from the elements, you can often find untouched powder pockets in the forests days after a storm. Accessible from all parts of the mountain, you’ll find a mix of perfectly-spaced glades and steep slopes. Head off any of Fernie’s bowl-dividing ridges for an injection of adventure.
1 rail park
The abundance of gnarly terrain, soft powder and all-manner of natural hits across the mountain mean Fernie’s rail park often gets overlooked, but here you’ll find a ton of progressive rails, boxes and jibs to hone your skills and provide lap after lap of challenge.
30% ADVANCED TERRAIN
Fernie has more expert terrain than most other ski areas, with around a dozen unpisted black and double-black diamonds. Its steep, ungroomed and varied slopes provide some of the best conditions for advanced progression, making it the perfect place to push yourself further on a Nonstop course. The ‘Polar Peak’ upper portion of the mountain holds serious challenge, with big moguls and scarily steep couloirs. You’ve also got lots of hike-to terrain, local cat-skiing and oodles of backcountry.
40% INTERMEDIATE TERRAIN
Intermediates have a wide choice of blue runs to hone their skills on. Long, groomed cruisers run through all five bowls, and there are some easier groomed blacks when you’re ready for more challenge. Adventurous intermediates can also progress to powder.
30% NOVICE TERRAIN
The lack of crowds is a big plus for beginners. There’s a decent nursery slope with a moving carpet and drag lift, while most beginner slopes are found in the ‘Lower Mountain’ section. This set-up is also an advantage for ski or snowboard instructor training, giving you a full range of terrain and slope types to practice on.
Awards and accolades
To find out more about skiing or snowboarding in Fernie, get in touch with the Nonstop team or take a look at our ski and snowboard courses in Fernie.
We look forward to speaking with you.