Unless you're planning to come back to Fernie via Calgary for a week, you won't regret this detour, which will require a double-back on Highway 3 to reach Kicking Horse. Calgary oil money has transformed Fernie's Old West brick buildings into modern lofts, restaurants and pubs, including one of the best sushi houses east of Vancouver. For a touch of Canadiana, the junior hockey team, the Ghostriders, plays at an old-fashioned barn of an arena downtown.
Après: The Griz
Eat: Yamagoya Japanese Restaurant in Fernie Alpine Lodge
Sleep: Cornerstone Lodge ( www.cornerstonelodge.ca)
Lift ticket: $75.95
Snowfall: 875 cm
Vertical: 857 metres
Terrain: 2,504 acres
Day 9 KICKING HORSE RESORT
Heading north on 97 through the easily navigable Columbia Valley you'll pass turnoffs for Kimberley (beginner/intermediate mountain, glades, lots of sun) and Panorama (groomed cruisers with a back bowl) to reach Golden, a crusty old railway town. Invitingly visible from the valley floor is Kicking Horse in the Dogtooth Range of the Purcell Mountains, reached by an easy 20-minute drive up a snaking road to a modern condo/lodge base village. A young, continually building resort, Kicking Horse offers truly wondrous views from its peak of national parks Jasper, Glacier and Yoho. The Golden Eagle Express gondola traverses an awesome 4,133 feet of vertical -in the spring, that distance can represent a 30-minute, thigh-screaming extravaganza that starts in dry fluff up top and finishes in slush below. No wonder one magazine suggested the resort be nicknamed Charley Horse. The mid-mountain Stairway to Heaven high-speed chair, the way to skip the long haul back to the base, presents steep, rocky chutes off Redemption Ridge, glades off one side and hiking access to Whitewall on the other. Kicking Horse is already well-known for splendid backcountry skiing including three bowls - Bowl Over, Super Bowl and Molar Bowl. Avalanche gear required.
Après: Day Lodge
Eat: Eagle's Eye Restaurant
Sleep: Copper Horse Lodge (www.copperhorselodge.com)
Lift ticket: $73
Snowfall: 800 cm
Vertical: 1,260 metres
Terrain: 2,750 acres
Day 10 Travel or bonus ski day
Day 11 REVELSTOKE MOUNTAIN RESORT
Did you keep the chains? From Golden, Highway 1 takes sightseers through the Rogers Pass and the avalanche territory of Glacier National Park (enough said) to Revelstoke, the city. Revelstoke, the new ski resort, is already known as the next Whistler, only impervious to the wretches of global warming with elevation at the top of the Stoke Chair of 2,225 metres (7,300 feet) and bottom elevation measured at the ski-in, ski-out Nelsen Lodge of 512 metres (1,680 feet), which translates to a whopping 1,713 metres of vertical. Located in prime Selkirk Mountain heli-skiing territory, Mount Mackenzie's annual snowfall ranges between 1,200 and 1,800 cm, or basically an average of a dump a day. Beginner? Well, have fun on the 7 per cent of the mountain set aside for you. Otherwise, there are glades to be discovered in 13 different areas, five bowls (three in designated cat-ski areas) and one run called the Last Spike that goes for 15.2 kilometres (yes, Pierre Berton fans, you read that right). So far, three (one gondola, two high-speed quads) of a planned 20 lifts serve this bounty.
Eat: Woolsey Creek Café
Sleep: Sandman Inn ( www.sandmanhotels.com)
Lift ticket: $74
Snowfall: 1,524 cm
Vertical: 1,713 metres
Terrain: 3,031 acres
Day 12 Back to Vancouver. Sorry.