Fernie Lifts & Terrain


Fernie Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    1,052 – 2,134 (1,082)
  • Average Snow Fall
    8.75  metres
  • Lifts (10)
    2 High-speed Quads
    2  Quads
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am to 4:00pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 142
    Longest run – 5km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 30%

Fernie Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Fernie Alpine Resort has a great mix of open bowl skiing, tree skiing and groomers across 1,013 hectares (2,504 acres) of terrain. Fernie has mellow ski terrain near the base area that’s suitable for beginners. Further up the hill the pitch increases and there are lots of areas for intermediate, advanced and expert riders. In the upper reaches of the resort are the five bowls for which Fernie is famous: Siberia, Timber, Currie, Lizard and Cedar.

There are two sides to the ski hill. The old side is to the lookers’ right and includes the Boomerang and Bear areas. The new side is the Timber area. The old side generally has greater volumes of snowfall, but the snow quality is generally better on the new side as it’s at a higher elevation. Big decision to make – quality or quantity of snow?!

Fernie Alpine Resort Lifts Ten lifts serve the mountain including four quad chair lifts. Considering the width of the ski area, the lift infrastructure is grossly inadequate, and significant traversing is required to get to some of the goods. The expert terrain in the centre ridge of the resort in particular requires lots of traversing.

The new side is mainly serviced by only two chairlifts, and below the White Pass quad chair, the non-fall-line ride down to the base area to catch the Timber Bowl Express is painfully like “Ground-hog Day”.

Fernie Snow and Weather

The general trend regarding Fernie snow is that of reasonably dry powder, and the average snowfall is 8.75 metres per season. However as described above, the quality and quantity of the snowfall varies somewhat across the resort. As to be expected the snow quality is also variable throughout the season. Rather than traditional dry Rockies powder, unfortunately it sometimes rains at Fernie and the lower part of the ski area becomes mashed potatoes.

Snowmaking is available in the beginners’ areas below the Bear’s Den to supplement the natural cover.

Most of the resort is below the tree line, so in the event of inclement weather there are plenty of places to hide. The bowls might not be open when the foul weather sets in. Similarly these areas are commonly closed after snowfall until the patrollers have checked and controlled the terrain.

The upper reaches of the mountain are steep, and considering the sometimes abundant snowfall, avalanche risk is often present. Many of the locals wear avalanche transponders, even if only skiing in-bounds. There are steep pitches above the resort boundaries, so the patrollers sometimes undertake helicopter bombing after a big dump. This makes for an après viewing spectacular!

Fernie Ski Terrain for the Beginner

Fernie Alpine Resort has great terrain for beginners. A dedicated learners’ area free from any expert speedsters is a huge plus, as are the easy progressions. The little tackers can start on the Mini Moose magic carpet, progress onto the Mighty Moose, and then go onto longer wide runs serviced by the Deer Chair and the slightly steeper Elk quad runs. Beyond these areas, beginners should be aware that some of the green trails are cat tracks and are somewhat narrow.

Intermediate Ski & Snowboard Terrain

Intermediates have 40% of the terrain, and whilst the blue terrain is OK, there are probably better mountains for intermediates. If you love long fall-line cruisers there’s not a lot of variety on offer. However if you want to start progressing onto the off-piste, Fernie has lots of off-piste areas where the security of the groomed trail is not far away. The Timber and Currie bowls in particular are good playgrounds for adventurous intermediates.

Intermediates should be aware that Fernie has various inconsistencies in the marking of trails between the trail map and sign-postings. As one example, the run 123’s is aptly marked black on the trail map, and whilst it’s marked black on one sign, another signifies it as a blue run.

Fernie Skiing for the Family & Kids

The contained beginners’ area makes it easy for kids and others to learn in peace. The kids learning area is really close to the village area, and it’s possible to watch the kids having lessons from the comfort of a few of the accommodation lodges.

Terrain Park

Safety is the priority at Fernie so experienced shredders may get rather bored with the terrain park. Fernie Alpine Resort no longer has a half pipe or jumps, only boxes and rails. The lackluster terrain park is accessed via a manned gate, and all park riders have to purchase a specific park pass and sign a waiver. The physiotherapists in town must be somewhat disappointed with the lack of business being produced in the terrain park!

For speedsters, a NASTAR race course is sometimes available.

Advanced Skiing

Most of the advanced trails are on the upper parts of the mountain where the snow quality is superior. In addition to some on-piste mogul runs, Fernie has tree runs galore and many are nicely gladed. The five bowls are also great advanced rider playgrounds. Some of the areas off the White Pass quad have dead spots or up-hill sections, so plan your descent well.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Most double black diamond trails require a long traverse to get there, and many of the steep shots off the ridges only provide a short vertical drop. However those prepared to work a bit will be rewarded.

All the expert slopes off the ridge between Currie and Lizard Bowls are probably best left for a powder day, otherwise the snow conditions may be a bit harrowing.

For the Powderhound

Fernie isn’t as crowded as some European ski resorts, but you wouldn’t describe Fernie as an uncrowded resort, particularly on weekends when the Calgarians arrive en-masse. Powder hounds may have to traverse far and wide to get away from other punters.

Powder hounds may want to sign up for the First Tracks program the night before a powder day. You’ll get an hour of peace ripping up fresh tracks.

Experts and powder hounds will love the slack-country options at Fernie (ie the backcountry areas that have reasonably slack access and egress). Needless to say, only experienced backcountry skiers and boarders with appropriate avalanche safety equipment should enter these areas, and only when the avalanche risk permits.

Fish Bowl, to the lookers’ right of the resort, is the most obvious out-of-bounds area. This can be accessed from the top of the Snake Ridge traverse. Various lines close to the resort only require a short hike back towards the Haul Back t-bar return road.

The next ridge over from the resort is 2000 Foot Ridge, generally accessed by skiing down Fish Bowl and skinning up. This is a high avalanche danger area, so you can always play it relatively safe by sticking to the trees on the crest of the ridge. From the top of the 2000 Foot Ridge there are multiple cliff bands and chutes to choose from, known as the Cement Chutes. These converge together in an area called the Cement Mixer – the name has nothing to do with the quality of the snow! The chutes are for super experts only!

On the other side of the ski resort adjacent to Siberia Bowl is Mongolia Ridge. This can be accessed by traversing across the Falling Star trail. You can hike up to the saddle and drop in wherever it takes your fancy, and cut back into the resort onto Falling Star. Alternatively rather than cutting back into the resort, continue down until you hit a cross country trail that affords an easy skate back into the resort.

Further south across the avalanche prone Mongolia Bowl, is Outer Mongolia Ridge. Ski the trees into Mongolia Bowl down to the cross country trail.