I waited all season for an opportunity to ski Fernie Wilderness Adventures with a group of friends and it finally came together! I had read about the terrain and and road enhancements and wanted to sample the goods. It happened at the end of a three week snow cycle on a day with promise of elusive sunshine.
Fernie Wilderness Adventures was started by Kim and Deb Sedrovic and has operated on Fernie’s Morrissey Ridge for 30 years. Slowly but surely the outdoor adventure operation grew from a one-cat, three seat business, to running 36 skiers per day. Fernie Wilderness Adventures offers 4,000 acres of terrain and more than 2,170 metres of elevation.
Island Lake built Fernie’s reputation as a cat-skiing destination however with capacity booked by international skiers, a day-cat-ski opportunity presented itself. Fernie Wilderness Adventures filled that opportunity and very successfully. The skiing was not at Island Lake’s standard and it wasn’t a snow quality issue. The reason was the density of the trees chocking the runs, and the slow pick-up time of the snow-cats. A slower group could spend an hour picking through the dense forest.
About a year and a half ago everything changed. Fernie Wilderness Adventures entered into a 50-50 joint partnership with their new landlord Jemi Fibre Corp. Jemi Fibre had purchased the private timberlands from Tembec, a Quebec company who had no taste for the commercial recreation business. Jemi Fibre was in the valley and receptive to positive change.
“We’ve just set the bar way higher and it will double the terrain,” said Sedrovic. “Not by using more land, just the glading alone is going to double our terrain. And the new cat-roads have made the terrain more assessable.”
Back to the skiing. The guides did their safety talk in the snow-cat during the first climb and the beacon search was quick. The sun came out and the powder was light and knee deep. The first couple of runs were slow and calculated like any other cat-ski day, until the guides determined they had a strong group. Then we skied all of their favourite runs and by mid day were bombing non-stop and hucking good sized drops. On several runs I definitely burnt my legs keeping up to the speedy guides. At the end of the day we totaled 11 runs and an impressive 15,000 vertical feet of untracked powder on excellent gladed terrain.
In 1992 I came to Fernie to cat-ski at Island Lake and eventually moved here to facilitate my powder skiing habit. FWA’s improvements have clearly raised the bar to that of my best days anywhere. In my opinion the Sedrovic’s have finally achieved their dream of offering a world-class cat-ski operation on Morrissey Ridge.
Those of you who haven’t been to Fernie Wilderness Adventures in the past year, it’s time to revisit! “It’s hard to beat what we’ve got for gladded skiing right now,” Sedrovic said. “It’s safe, it’s good quality snow and still has some protection because of the amount of trees that are left.”
We collected a cooler of Fernie Beer IPA’s waiting at the bottom of the days final run and headed back to the lodge for a nice bowl of soup. Good laughs around the fireplace ended my best powder day of the season and I can’t wait for my next trip to Fernie Wilderness Adventures!
Photos by Al Charest