A group identifying as “Bike and Hike Fernie” has started a petition on Change.org with the objective of influencing Fernie Alpine Resort to operate the Timber Chair this summer.

This is their petition:

There have been well informed rumors that Fernie Alpine Resort (Resorts of the Canadian Rockies) will not be operating the Timber chairlift again this summer.

In the summertime, Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) typically operates the Timber and the Elk chairlifts, giving users access to downhill mountain bike trails and hiking terrain. For the past two years the resort has not opened the Timber chairlift – 2019 because the chairlift needed extensive maintenance, 2020 because they were not sure it would be feasible to operate it with a COVID-19 affected summer. This would be the third year running that they do not open the advanced half of the bike park and alpine hiking trails – all accessed from the Timber chair.

As it turned out, the summer of 2020 was busy regardless of COVID-19. With only one side of the mountain open on the weekends, the lift lines were long and crowded. Patrons were spending most of their day standing in line instead of riding their bikes or hiking. This created a poor situation for COVID-19 protocol safety and spacing of riders. Patrons did not see value for money with ticket purchases – with such long wait times the number of bike park laps riders were able to do in a day were very limited – sometimes only 4 laps in an entire day (that’s 1 hour of biking in a 6 hour day). If the Timber chair were operating on weekends this could have been avoided.

The trails and the hiking that are accessible from the Elk chair do not offer the degree of difficulty/ challenge that users would experience on the Timber side of the mountain. The trails on the timber side are longer, steeper and more technical. The hiking on the timber side takes you into the true alpine, giving hikers the opportunity to summit the timber/ curry headwall or polar peak. Without the Timber side open the resort is definitely lacking in what it has to offer patrons.

And still lift passes have gotten more expensive each year.

FAR has admitted its sub-par offerings the past few years have not been ideal. In September 2020 the resort posted on its social media accounts:

“It’s no secret that not having the Timber Chair operating over the past two summers wasn’t ideal. The high alpine hiking and biking have been missed. The good news, our trail crew have been putting in some serious work to bring this overgrown mess (the Timber trails), back to how we like it for next summer (2021). Add in the rebuild of Neverland (bike trail), and it will be super fresh all the way through there next year (2021).”

This promise of reopening the Timber side is now in dispute. According to reliable sources within FAR, the resort has received word from corporate RCR that they will not be operating the Timber chair for a third year running. With the construction blocking the highway from Calgary to Golden this summer, we can only anticipate more people will be coming to Fernie to bike and hike. The issues we encountered at FAR last summer will be exacerbated.

By signing this petition, you are showing that you want to see RCR corporate give Fernie Alpine Resort the go-ahead to re-open the Timber Chairlift this summer. You are showing that you want RCR to be accountable for their promises. Let’s join together and urge RCR to improve the safety and quality of experience it is offering their guests; reopen the Timber Chair for summer operations this year!

The petition does state that the Timber Chair’s not operating this summer is a rumour – hopefully it’s just that! The end of the season “Bonus” ski week was a result of the experience survey campaign. They do listen and hopefully we’ll have a bonus lift this summer!

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