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EPIC ski trip: Fernie Alpine Resort, British Columbia

Written by Fiona

March 09 2020

Fernie Alpine Resort is a special place for us. It is where, two years ago in a short but wonderful slope-side ceremony, G and I were married.

Read about it:

Fernie is also included as part of the EPIC season pass so it was obvious that we would make a return on our Epic ski trip 2020.

There is a lot to like about Fernie Alpine Resort including the average nine metres per season of legendary powder snow and more than 2500 acres of skiable terrain. There is skiing for all, from a superb beginner area to a wide range of Black Diamond and Double Diamond runs.

I also like that the lovely town of Fernie is just five miles from the ski resort so you can enjoy some alternative apres-ski entertainment. There are lots of great shops, bars (we liked Fernie Brickhouse) restaurants, a brewery and the new Fernie Distillers. They make the most amazing cocktails (just saying!).

You can pay for a shuttle bus between the resort and the town.

Flight of gins.
A cocktail at Fernie Distillers.

Fernie Alpine Resort: Facts and stats:

Read this blog to find out more about the facts and stats.

What we liked about Fernie ski resort

Returning for a second time, it was great to ski the runs that we remembered – and to discover more.

We agreed that Fernie is rather like a mini Kicking Horse but with more lifts and not so much vertical. (Read about our recent visit to Kicking Horse Mountain.)

The slopes are frequently just as steep as Kicking Horse, but they are not as long so it means your leg muscles can manage a number of different slopes. (At Kicking Horse, the steeps are much longer and therefore more testing on the thighs.)

Fernie has a good variety of runs for beginners through to experts. In fact, this is a great resort for groups with a mix of abilities. I would imagine that Fernie is popular with families.

Five bowls of Fernie

Fernie has what is calls “the legendary five bowls”, as well as Polar Peak. The bowls include:

  • Siberia Bowl
  • Timber Bowl
  • Currie Bowl
  • Lizard Bowl
  • Cedar Bowl.

There is a useful and accessible cat track at the top of many ski runs – accessed via a variety of uplifts – so you can ski from one bowl to anther bowl without doing much boot-packing.

The five Fernie bowls are great for both groomers and off-piste skiing, with a choice of wide-open slopes, as well as numerous chutes.

Polar Peak is the highest point in the resort and it offered tremendous views. Fernie is a breath-takingly scenic resort.

There is a pisted slope from the top of Polar Peak, as well as many off-piste routes. Simply point your skis downhill and there is a steep slope to please.

When we were at Fernie, some of the slopes from Polar peak were shut due to avalanche issues but they looked like a great challenge.

The resort also has plenty of tree runs, which are best if visibility is reduced. Tree skiing magically offers better visibility when it is cloudy or snowing.

In general, the pisted runs at Fernie are fast and flowing, especially early in the day when the grooming is still obvious. We enjoyed floating around the groomers in our comfort zone after challenging ourselves with the steeps.

The slope below this large cornice was closed due to avalanche danger.

Favourite Fernie runs

We most enjoyed skiing the black runs in Timber Bowl. They are marked as single diamond but they could easily be classed as double black diamonds. Basically they are short and steep.

Cedar Bowl was a good bet in the morning for fresh snow. We really enjoyed the double black diamond off-piste runs in this bowl.

Siberia Bowl is good for skiing later in the day. It is quieter and tends to have snow that has been less skied. There are plenty of steep lines to choose from, including routes through trees.

The blue runs in Timber and Lizard bowls are lovely as well. Blue is steeper than the European equivalent but because the snow is drier and less icy, they offer “hero” style skiing for when your legs are saying no to the steeps.

We returned to the spot where we were married two years ago.

Any negatives?

They say that Fernie is more likely to be hit by cloud and precipitation than other BC resorts but we have visited twice and been treated to mostly good visibility and weather. This time we enjoyed more sunshine than cloud over a few days.

The resort can be busy, especially during holiday weekends and weeks. I wouldn’t class it as European busy but there were times when we had a short lift wait in a queue.

If you prefer your resorts to be smaller and with more of a community atmosphere, Fernie might not be to your taste. The benefits of a larger resort are that you could spend a week or more here and have plenty of options for skiing.

Overall, there are very few negatives compared to positives at Fernie Alpine Resort.

Where to stay, eat and drink

Fernie Lodging Company has a range of accommodation located in the mountain resort and an easy walk from the ski base. We were treated to a brilliant condo with a living room / kitchen and a separate bedroom. It has facilities such as a washing machine and drier.

Guests have access to a pool and hot-tubs. Staying in the resort gives easy access to the slopes and it means you can enjoy apres-entertainment to the full (without need for a driver).

We ended up being part of a 60th birthday party!

There is plenty of in-resort bars and restaurants. We enjoyed apres-ski at the Griz Bar with live music and an up-beat atmosphere. Indeed, we ended up in the middle of someone’s 60th birthday party, which was good fun!

The Ice bar in Fernie resort is a novel experience and it goes without saying we visited the Lost Boys Cafe for a mountainside lunch.

See more links to Epic resorts in A Month in Canada, Utah and Colorado.

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