Well as some of you may know I went to Fernie again this weekend. I've been there several times before and love the resort, so I won't talk much about the resort itself. Just going to mention the conditions, what was open, what wasn't, weather, and a little about where we stayed and ate...
Friday Night: So we booked a private room at the Raging Elk hostel for Friday and Saturday night. The cost for both nights was about $155 or so and that included a "pancake breakfast". We headed out of Calgary around 5:30 and got into Fernie at about 9:00 pm. I took a different route home that shaved about 15 mins off the trip, more on that later.
We checked into the hostel and got our stuff in the room, only to realize we both forgot our bathing suits! The hostel has a sauna and we were looking forward to it for Saturday night. So we went on a failed mission to find bathing suits. After that debacle we headed back to the room for the night. The room itself was decent. I'm not used to hostels but it was reasonable in size, probably 10x10 plus a decent en-suite bathroom. The furnishings and finish reminded me of a lot of cottages I've been to in ontario. The bunkbed was made from 2x4s and plywood, but the mattress was comfortable, and all the bedding clean and comfy. There were two towels for us, but none of the typical hotel stuff that I'm assuming jacks the price up (soaps, shampoo, lotion, plastic cups wrapped in plastic).
There was a big rack with 8-1 pegs on it for hanging all our stuff to dry which was great!
Saturday: Up at the crack of dawn. Okay about 7:00 to be exact. Threw on some clothes and headed downstairs for the "pancake breakfast". I'm using quotation marks because the "pancake breakfast" is a bowl of batter and a hot griddle in the community kitchen downstairs. The batter was good, but very thick, and the griddle wasn't hot enough even on max, so after 10+ mins I pulled the pancakes off and we had semi-cooked pancake batter and syrup for breakfast. I would have been happier with a stack of pre-cooked pancakes that I could have reheated in the microwave. A little tip: Saturday I bought a little thing of milk and yogurt. Added them to the batter in a separate bowl on sunday morning to thin the batter, and used a regular frying pan on high to get them to cook faster. It was much better but still not what I'd make at home.
We headed out the door around 8:30 and got to the hill at 8:35 lol and we were probably the 15th car to park in the main lot. Got our stuff on and headed to the Elk chair for almost first tracks. We ended up being the 3rd chair heading up when they opened at 9:00! It snowed all day Saturday to the tune of about 5 cm or so. Visibility was low, and the temp was around freezing at the base of the mountain, a few degrees below at the top. I took a run on "the bear" which is my usual groomer warmup run, and found it was actually choppy and more hard work than normal. I figured the day wasn't going to be great because of the visibility and recent rain/thaws that had happened the week before, so I just figured I'd play around and find some fun to keep me occupied for a few hours.
The GF headed down to the Elk chair to run some of the easier runs for most of the day, but after lunch came up the bear chair to play in the Lizzard Bowl for the afternoon. She just had laser eye surgery a week and a few days before, so she was thrilled to be boarding and seeing at the same time!
I dropped into the Cedar Bowl which had a huge avalanche earlier in the week, and I actually found big pockets of relatively untouched powder in the glades!!! Suddenly the day was looking better, and after the two lifts to get out of the Cedar bowl, I headed over to the other side, up the Timber bowl express, and up whitepass quad to head into the Currie Bowl to see if Polar Peak was open. Unfortunately it wasn't but I ended up in great glades with almost fresh powder, went over a few cliffs, etc. (pics to follow)
We got off the hill at 3:30 pretty beat. I uploaded my GPS file, turns out I did 60 km on Saturday which is one of my longer days this year.
We headed back to the room, showered, I had a nice sauna (note: remind the hostess to flip the breaker to turn the sauna on so you're not sitting in a cold room wondering why it's not warm!). Then we headed to a little restaurant across the highway that specializes in organic foods, teas, etc. The service was good if a little slow, but the meals were cooked quite well and were just a little different from the norm. My GF has NY striploin steak on salad with a blueberry dressing, the steak was cooked medium-rare just right and the salad was nice. I had mac and cheese with scallops and bacon, which again was very good (just had the leftovers for my lunch today) but just a little on the over cheesy side.
Sunday: The weather gods were smiling on us this morning! We had more pancakes and some fruit and yogurt so that we could make it through the day without lunch, then packed up, checked out, and headed for the hill. We got on the lift at 9:15 and the liftie said only a few people had gone before us. Guess it's a good thing we missed the big St. Patties Day parties!?! The sky was mostly overcast but the sun looked like it was trying to peak out.
Today the GF was feeling more confident, so she rode with me for the whole day (although we took different lines through the fun stuff). We went up Timber express first, then down to the whitepass quad. Arriving at the top I was hoping to see polar peak spinning, but unfortunately it wasn't and to make matters worse the Currie Bowl was closed with about 40 people standing at the entrance. About 20 seconds after we got off the chair we heard a massive BOOM! looked up and saw where they were bombing the top of the bowl about 2/3rds of the way over toward the polar peak summit. I've heard them bombing a lot this year, but never seen it first hand! It was really cool! The cat at our fenceline then went on ahead and plowed a cat track around the top of the bowl through the avalanche run offs.
About a minute later the patroller opened the rope and we all poured into the Currie bowl! I showed my GF where some great glades were, a little off the usual path, where we found again several feet of basically virgin powder. That was her first time into the Currie bowl and I think she loved it! The clouds above us were lifting and thinning marginally, but there was a fog coming up through the valley towards us, so we boarded down into the fog. We went back over the the Bear chair to hit the bears den to dry off a bit. I ran a steep powder gladed run next to the bear a few times before stopping, and really started letting my speed go in the trees more than I normally do.
After we had a break, we headed into the Cedar bowl, where the GF got a little freaked out at the steepness about half way down. I dropped off a "cliff" beside where you get off the bear chairlift, and I'm sure people were looking at me funny when I dropped in. I seem to notice that areas that require a drop in to get to, usually have far less traffic and much better powder than the typical areas, so the drop in is 100% worth it.
By this time we were getting tired, so we took the t-bar out of the Cedar Bowl (GFs first time on a t-bar and she made it to the top, so that's always good!)... We then headed back to the other side, up timber, up whitepass, but this time we came down whitepass under the lift. There were glades with untouched powder I could see from the lift, but you had to do a little traverse to get to them. WELL WORTH THE WORK! On a sunday afternoon, days after the snow had fallen, I was riding in what felt like bottomless powder... I doesn't get much better than that!
We decided we were done, and my coffee was wearing off around 2:30 so we got down to the bottom of the Currie Bowl then carved some hard carves on a nice easy run below the Deer chair on our way out. BTW I got the whole day Sunday on the new Contour Roam, half on my head, half on the GFs and there's some really cool moments on film! I'll link a few vids here once they're posted on the youtubes... Here's a little teaser for now. And a few pictures below...
Sounds like you had much better conditions that I had last Wednesday ()
Yeah after hearing about your crappy time, I was worried. Some of the people I met on the lifts said last week was one of the worst weeks they've had there. I was watching the webcams thursday and friday and the bowls were always closed, so that snow must have sat untouched for most of the week, which is why I got so lucky I guess!
I hate to rub it in but you'll see once I post more videos, the powder was everywhere and it was really good! If I have one complaint it's that because it was near freezing the powder was heavier than the champagne I rode in December at Nakiska, or early Jan in Fernie. The Nakiska powder was like surfing on a cloud!!!
Hope the rest of your trip was okay, I want to hit Montana one of these years...
First video, two more to come... This one was on sunday around the middle of the day on a gladed run beside the Bear chair. Man does youtube compression ever seem to ruin video quality! Play your own rock music over it... lol