It's about 5 PM. The flight from Amsterdam to Calgary was long. We're not there yet. There's still around 3,5 hour of traveling left. The road seems to end in the middle of nowhere. Destination? Fernie where we will enjoy all the beauty that the Canadian Rockies have to offer. In the twilight I see the silhouettes of the mountains looming, in the midst of the great emptiness of the Alberta countryside. What a grand sight. This view alone is actually already worth the trip.
We arrive a couple of hours later and immediately head downtown to hopefully forget about our jetlag. And that is actually where Fernie shows her charm for the first time. Despite the appeal of the ski area, Fernie kept her authenticity. A typical Canadian mountain town that was once founded by adventurers in search of coal to support the railway. A town where people live, work and when it dumps find their way to the various bowls that tower above the town. You'll feel the vibe when you enter Fernie. That evening, we enjoy a nutritious Canadian burger and we give in to the fatigue of the long journey.
The next morning, partly because of jet lag and partly because of the vibe that I always feel on the first day of a ski trip, I wake up early. I look outside and see a fresh layer of snow covering the parking space outside my window. This is going to be a good day! First breakfast in a coffee place full of locals in Fernie itself (after all it is still 7 o'clock in the morning) and then it's time to go skiing. The Timber Bowl express quad brings us up to the 'new' side of the mountain. It's only a very short hike to dive into Morning Glory Glades in Siberia Bowl.
The first turns in a Fernie are a fact, and despite the fact that only 5 cm has fallen, the snow is insane. The terrain is also spectacular to say the least, with steep treeruns, alpine bowls and narrow couloirs. As all the resorts in North America, Fernie works with the boundary system, which is a big difference to the system we use in the European Alps. You don't really have to worry about avalanche danger (simply because ski patrol is doing a great job) and because of that you can surrender yourself to the mountain.
We hop on Timber Bowl Express once again and we now ski down the Timber Bowl itself, towards the White Pass Quad that will bring us to Currie Bowl, filled with even more steep treeruns. The level of skiing is high in Fernie. It's definitely higher than the level of skiing you see in most of the resorts in the Alps. Not surprising when you see the terrain you're riding. Skiing over here is really different than carving on those Austrian groomers! When you ski a lot in Fernie, I'm sure you'll end up being a solid skier.
When we arrive at the top of the Currie bowl, it turns out that we are lucky; the bowl has just been checked by ski patrol and is just opening. Plenty of room and powder for everyone, we all find our own line between the trees and continue our way to the compact village that is built at the bottom of the lifts. A quick cup of coffee and back up again!
Let's head to the other side of the area. The Great Bear Express Quad brings us to the top of Lizard and Cedar Bowl. The lifties are clearing the roof of the little shack on the top. There's about 2,5 meters on snow that they want to remove. Not bad for the beginning of January! We dive into Lizard bowl, which invites us to ride fast. There are a couple of very nice couloirs in the background that can be reached from Polar Peak. Oh if only we had more time! But hey, our alternative is pretty good as well: we dive into Cedar Bowl. And lucky us, we find some fresh untracked lines!
When we hike to the end of Snake ridge for the next run, the day is complete. Steep terrain with nothing less than fresh powder - the Fernie Factor has struck - to make somw nice powder turns. It was so rewarding that we did it again and again. We found some more stashes, one line even better than the other.
A beer and the biggest plate of nachos that I have ever seen in my life give this day the closing it deserved. I did not really know what to expect a Fernie first timer, but it definitely exceeded expectations. A place that has the right vibe, a place that inspires you, a place that makes you feel alive. And the skiing is pretty awesome as well! Fernie should be part of every road trip through the Rockies. You do not want to miss this one!