Day 17 Thur Feb 7. Fernie 5100m vertical (45000 total)

Always strange when you arrive at a new place in the dark, and went for a wander around the compact village a bit after 8 after picking up my lift ticket.  This place is supposedly ski in / ski out – I can see see the ski in but they’d have to have a lot more snow down low to ever have any ski out option.  Like with the Banff ski areas no new snow here since the weekend and they’ve also been struggling to open areas with the extreme cold.  I’m envious of Doug getting fresh powder back in the US of A but I really was keen to have a look at this place. 

Started off on the left side of the mountain with the plan to work across the hill.  Firm groomer at the top but with a bit of give in the ground was quite nice, but half way down the hill it got VERY firm – and that’s being kind to it.  This turned into the theme of the day – there was a very distinct line about half way down the hill where I assume the snow had turned to rain.  Above that was well worth the effort, but below meant LOTS of edge control.  Finally figured best option was to take the easiest way down each time for the bottom half – might not be very challenging but it meant skiing rather than just skidding.

With Polar Peak lift still closed, the White Pass chair was the highest lifted point and not surprisingly provided fine skiing.  Top of Currie Bowl was also very nice but once again as you hit the firm stuff it got less interesting and when I tried to cut across to the trail to the Bear chair I hit horrendous frozen crud that took several minutes to back my way out of.  Nice run in top of Lizard Bowl then a long and somewhat more pleasant easy trail back to base and the novelty of making coffee and a sandwich in my room.

Back out and headed for Cedar Bowl.  The highpoint of the day.  Just on the edge of my comfort zone in terms of steepness but a nice slightly soft top to the surface and a wide open slope.  And you definitely couldn’t complain about the crowds – I think I only shared one chair for the day and you often couldn’t see another person on your trail.  A nice long run led to a novelty – a t-bar the only way back out of the bowl.  A LONG but quite enjoyable cat track back to base through the trees then a final loop back up to White Pass.  Was just on 4 by the time I was de-booting in the lodge and I was well worn.  An enjoyable enough day, and like any area it would be fantastic under fresh snow, but I’m not completely convinced it’s any more ‘legendary’ than many other ski areas.

Did a quick drive downtown to fuel the jeep and have a quick look around, grabbed a coffee and headed back up.  Have been starting to look more seriously at forecasts for next week as I still try to figure out where to spend the final stanza, but it looks like more local weather may have snuck up on me.  Forecast is for just a few cm here overnight, but it looks like Montana – where I need to drive through late tomorrow and Sat – will get more snow out on the highways than we’re going to get here on the hill.  Just about sums up how well I’ve been timing things the last couple of weeks.  Oh well.

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