Friday - February 21st - Fernie Alpine Resort - 5 inches new snow
Friday was our last day at Fernie, which meant that we had to check out. Greg and Ben were driving back to Seattle, so it meant that just the boys who'd come up from Hamilton would be skiing. We cleaned up the place, moved all our stuff to the vehicle, and locked the door on our home away from home. Instead of driving to the slopes to hunt for a parking spot, we decided to leave our Explorer at the condo and walk to the lifts.
There were another 4-5 inches of new snow for the day, and the goal was to head back and get a couple of runs off Snake Ridge. The terrain there was of excellent pitch, and our previous experience had taught us that it remained untracked for quite a while.
Weston had observed that we could get access to almost all of the ridge without really hitting the hike that covered the last 5-10 minutes of the trip, so we took an alternate traverse and made good time. With the new snowfall, conditions were much like we'd experience on our previous trips: steep and deep (although nowhere near as deep as we'd be getting at Lost Trail Powder Mountain the following day). We shot more video as we worked our way down into Cedar Bowl, and on our loop back, we tried out the blue trail Wallaby, which actually had some steep cruising sections. In order to get back to the Great Bear Quad, we took the Boomerang Triple, then hit skier's right. The new snow had made the skiing here awesome, and we worked in and out of treed sections along the Bear Trail. There were lots of hidden gems that people ignored, probably because most treated it as an access route to the Great Bear Quad. We had to ski, traverse right, and repeat, but the turns were worth it.
On our next lap to Snake Ridge, we stopped short on the traverse and jumped into Cedar Bowl in the area of the Trilium and Blueberry trails. We'd been eyeing a region of untracked snow here that everyone seemed to ignore. There was a bit of a depression that required some traversing out once you were in it, so I think most people along the traverse shied away. We hoped this would mean that there was a nice swath of untracked behind it as well, and we were correct. We found plenty of deep untracked, even if it wasn't quite as steep as the terrain off Snake Ridge. There were lots of kickers in the area too, with big fat powder landings, so we did some jumps for the camera. There was so much snow on top of the kickers that rotating for helicopters was very difficult. We did get some great crashes on camera at least :). We finished off the loop hitting more of the trees off the Bear Trail. I can't say enough about the steeps off the Boomerang Lift; if you can get to them with good snow, you will be really psyched (if you're a fan of steeps).
The afternoon was wearing on, and we wanted to head back home before it got too late, but we still had one objective left for the day. All week, we'd seen this interesting area of terrain on the front of the mountain. It was a large treed knob that seemed to jut out at the front of the resort. I call it a knob, based on appearance, but in reality it probably offered 2000' of vertical. This area looked very intriguing because right from its pointed top, long winding trails snaked down amongst the huge conifers. The contrast of green on white literally made them jump out and say "Ski me!". What made them even more enticing was the fact that they had remained untracked for a couple days, presumably due to closed areas limiting access. We were unsure of what the best access was to these trails, but since we were at the top of the Great Bear Quad, we decided to traverse as hard as we could to skier's right and get there.
We took the standard traverse across the Lizard Bowl (the Face Lift was still not running; maybe it was being saved for the Powder 8 contest?). Eventually we took the highest traverse possible, which required a little bit of uphill work. As we entered into the region we sought, there was some debate about which exact trail we were on (Freeway or Decline) but eventually we just decided to start skiing. We hadn't quite hit the area from the top, but we'd done pretty well. The marked tails had been heavily skied by this point, and were filled with soft bumps. The trees surrounding the trails in this area had looked pretty dense from afar, and based on the steepness of the terrain, we didn't think there would be many lines. Well, it turns out that the trees in this area really kick butt! The terrain is over 30 degrees in pitch in many places, but the trees are surprisingly open enough to make for great lines just about everywhere. There were some tracks, but there was also a lot of untracked powder that helped us control our speed in the steep trees. Another amazing terrain feature was the collection of steep gullies. They weren't huge, and they sort of appeared out of nowhere, but they held lots of snow. We just barely scratched the surface of what was available in there. Near the bottom, of the knob, the slope flattened a bit, and the trees choked in. We decided to finish the run on Sky Dive, the longest of the slopes in the area. It was bumped up, and the snow was a little heavier at this lower elevation, but it was a great run on which to finish our Fernie experience. We shot across the base area back to our (former) condo, loaded up the rest of the gear, and headed out. It was tough to leave, but we'd had awesome snow (something like 3 feet in four days) and gotten in on the best storm of the season thus far.
The Web Movie of our Fernie Trip
One of the things we do here at J&E Productions is make movies, and we've made one from some of the video footage that we shot during our four days at Fernie Alpine Resort. All you need to do is make sure you've got the latest version of QuickTime, and you'll be able to watch the video. If you've got a fast internet connection, you can click on the movie and, a new window will open. After a few minutes of downloading, during which time you will only see the QuickTime symbol in the new window, the movie should open and you can play it with the QuickTime plugin associated with your browser. If you have a slower internet connection (such as a modem) it may take a couple of hours to download, and I recommend right clicking on the movie below and saving it to your hard drive. This method is also recommended for anyone that would like to save the movie for future viewing. If you need to download the latest version of the QuickTime player, you can do it by clicking on the QuickTime symbol to the left of the movie.
The movie is 3 min. 22 sec. in length, and its size is 25,886 kB.
If you move your mouse over the movie image, you can
get a preview of a few still shots from the movie.
If you enjoyed the movie, you may want to check out others at our web movie page.
Before heading back south to Montana, we stopped in at the city of Fernie for a couple of things. While hanging out in town near the car, I had a chance to catch a view of the ski trails from town. It was a really cool view, so I grabbed Chris' camera and snapped a couple shots before the mountains disappeared back into the clouds. The ride home was at a similar time to our trip up, so we once again caught some alpenglow on the Whitefish range. It made us wonder if there was something special about that area of northern Montana that made the lighting so good.
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