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Aerial view of Fernie resort

An ultimate stop on B.C.'s Powder Highway

If you ride the chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort on B.C.'s famed "Powder Highway," you get used to hearing foreign accents – American, British, French, German, Russian, Ukrainian. That's because Fernie's 'steep-and-deep powder-snow' reputation has made the Lizard Range resort internationally cool.

"Fernie is like a second home to me," says Karolina Ekman, a retired 'extreme' skier, now working as a ski writer in Sweden. Ekman has logged no fewer than six seasons at Fernie, including last year's.

"I felt I had to go back because I missed my friends there, the relaxed and accepting atmosphere, playing ice hockey with the girls and, of course, the powder skiing. It was a great winter for powder: chest deep and ever so light. I giggled so much I almost got suffocated from the snow blowing into my face and over my head."

Olympian Emily Brydon, who grew up in Fernie, chimes in describing it as "the ultimate" ski resort.  "There is no other place in the world that can offer such a diverse and numerous amount of terrain while catering to all levels of skiers and riders," she says on her blog.

The fact is, every year is a great year for powder at Fernie, which averages in excess of 11 metres of the light and fluffy snow annually – enough to grab "Best North American Resort" honours at the 2012 World Snow Awards in London, England.

Conveniently located just outside the town of Fernie with its heritage architecture and wealth of services, shops and restaurants, Fernie Alpine Resort looks as grand as it feels, with 10 lifts servicing 142 runs in five alpine bowls spread out over 10 square kilometres.

As broad as that canvas is, it's one on which the picture is constantly changing. Those who don't get their fill of thrills on the hill can try out the resort's new Winter Zipline and then warm up at the Firepit on the Slopeside Deck. Mountain improvements include pre-season glading, as well as expanded and widened areas including Kids Trails, Window Chutes, Lower and East Easter, Sun Up, Red Tree, Cedar Ridge, Boomerang, Morning Glory and the Polar Ridge area. The resort's Currie Glades area has benefited from tree removal and improved glading. Mountain signage has also been upgraded, and new hydrants will improve snow making in the Dipsy and Lower Ballet areas.

Great as the skiing may be, Fernie has also won accolades galore for its off-hill diversions. Ski Canada magazine readers have voted the Griz Bar – a watering hole known for "Keepin' Rippers Ripped since 1962" – North America's top après-ski bar. Fernie's winter calendar is crowded with events ranging from live concerts to "Rail & Ski/Board Cross Comps," family festivals and the ever-popular Retro Parties. A wealth of on-hill ski-in/ski-out accommodation make checking snow conditions as easy as looking out the window, which visitors can do at the recently upgraded Slopeside Lodge, previously known as Wolf's Den Lodge. Grocery deliveries are conveniently available from the Mountain Pantry.

While there is a broad range of skiing for all skill levels, adrenaline junkies will want to know about the recently opened Polar Peak chair, the ultimate high with steep slopes and 360-degree views. Operations manager Robin Siggers foresees only one problem with it. "Some might find it too exhilarating," he says.

That'll be the day!


What to expect:

Powder skiing with 1,080 metres of vertical on 2,500-plus acres of skiable terrain serviced by 10 lifts, including two high-speed quad chairs. Terrain is 30 per cent beginner, 40 per cent intermediate, 30 per cent advanced. 142 named runs, five bowls and extensive tree skiing. Snow making. Nordic skiing on 14 kilometres of groomed and track-set trails. Terrain park with boxes and rails.

New this season:

Winter Zipline (open holidays), upgraded lodging at Fernie Slopeside Lodge, extensive cleaning, expanding and widening of trails, improved snow making, improved trail signage.


• Fernie Alpine Resort is home to the legendary Griz Bar, as well as a fine dining restaurant, a casual bar and grill, and the Slopeside Market & Deli. The nearby town of Fernie offers a wide variety of dining and après-ski options. Night skiing from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and nightly from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

Special offers:

Book by November 30 and receive fifth night of accommodation at Fernie Slopeside Lodge and fifth day of skiing free.

Contact: 1-800-258-7669  or


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