Park Place Lodge

Fernie locals, yes the keaners, started skiing at the at the end of September. Whistler received the same storm cycle and Mike Douglas released a polished video of him and fellow pros skiing powder on the glacier. There were no pros or slick video for Fernie.

Unfortunally for Whistler their winter has been without snow—see their snow pillow data:
Whistler Snow data

Fortunately for Fernie our snowpack has been average, as expected, with average being amazing! See the snow pillow data:
Fernie Snowpillow Data

Last nights 20cm snow fall in Fernie was forecast to be 1cm. This is common and locals call it the Fernie Factor, nothing forecast and epic snow fall—it happens regularly.

Whistler is at the other extreme, they receive front page editorials before it snows! See the following editorial, “How to survive 60 cm of fresh powder at Whistler Blackcomb this weekend“, from todays Vancouver Sun, edited with a Fernie version beneath:

WB: Winter will be on again this weekend at Whistler-Blackcomb — and with more than 60 centimetres forecast between Thursday and Sunday, (and quite likely close to a metre in more sheltered areas), it will likely be the best conditions of the season so far.

F: Winter has been on all season at Fernie — with nothing forecast the snow just keeps on falling, (and even more in the trees than the open slopes), it is the best skiing of our great season!

Here are a dozen do’s and don’t to get the most out of your big powder day.

WB: 1 DO wax your skis the night before. Fresh snow can get heavy to plough through. A waxed ski will run faster and make turning easier.

F: 1 DO wax your skis the night before a powder day, not because you need to as light powder is easy to ski in. Cold temperatures with light Kootenay powder does ski better with waxed skis.

WB: 2 DO get onto the hill as early as possible. They don’t call scouting for first tracks “dawn patrol” for nothing. Seriously consider paying for the First Tracks breakfast at Whistler’s Roundhouse.

F: 2 Take your time getting to the hill. There will be first tracks all day!

WB: 3 DO rent super-fat rockered cambered skis, if you don’t have them. Skis with a slightly upturned tip (like K2’s “Pettitor,” which is named after famed Whistler madman Sean Pettit) will not dive into the snow.

F: 3 Everybody at Fernie has super-fat rockered cambered skis, however none are named after Fernie madmen skiers because nobody in Fernie is famed.

WB: 4 DON’T forget to pack a decent pair of goggles. Scratched, cracked lenses will fog up in no time and some ‘tints’ are much better than others.

F: 4 Having a decent pair of goggles is important, fortunately they don’t need to match your ski suit or function in fog.

WB: 5 DO remember that safety is the most important consideration. If you haven’t done any (or much) off piste skiing before, consider signing up for a lesson, especially if a) you really don’t know much about skiing in deep snow and b) you enjoy watching the look on your friends’ faces as your ski school group gets “lift line priority” over the thousands of folks waiting in line.

F: 5 Everybody at Fernie knows how to ski deep powder, it’s a skiers mountain. Lift line priority is not an issue as we have no lift lines. We do have great instructors that can work on your carving, something we don’t do much of with Fernie’s deep pow!

WB: 6 DO watch the light-board to see which lifts are open, and which ones are on standby. Be prepared to wait for alpine lifts like the Peak and Glacier Express to open, and be aware that if it’s still storming that some of these lifts might not open at all during the day.

F: 6 Fernie does not have light-boards as lift lines are never an issue, however we do have a Peak Chair and it’s much like Whistler’s Peak Chair — epic and open on good weather days.

WB: 7 DON’T berate the lift attendants because the ski patrol hasn’t opened up the alpine terrain, yet.

F: 7 In Fernie you’re too busy skiing powder and never stand around long enough to berate the lift attendants.

WB: 8 DON’T go anywhere near Whistler/Blackcomb’s “slackcountry” area unless you are with someone who knows exactly where they are going and each person is equipped with an avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel. Do NOT ski out of bounds alone, or even in-bounds in gladed areas. There will still be early-season hazards under the snow – after all, winter is only two weeks old.

F: 8 Backcountry rules are the same everywhere however in Fernie we do have more powder in-bounds, more often. Having avalanche equipment is useless without knowledge of safe travel and rescue procedures. Do NOT ski out of bounds without knowledge, the equipment and others with the same status. Fernie only has a 180cm base – after all, winter is only two months old.

WB: 9 DO your first turns on the most obvious runs, and then work your way into the glades or steeper terrain once.

F: 9 Do your first turns wherever you choose, you’ll pass more powder lines in one day in Fernie than you’d ski in a full season in Whistler.

WB: 10 DO anticipate becoming separated from your friends, because “there are no friends on a powder day.” And while texting and cell phones work well on both mountains, have a plan for meeting for lunch and back at the car at the end of the day.

F: 10 In Fernie you’ll make friends on a powder day. Ride the lift with strangers and go to the Griz bar with them at the end of the day. On special powder days, naked table sliding is not a myth.

WB: 11 DON’T stress out about it. There will likely be a lot of people on the mountain, since powder days like this are what the locals wait for. Alternately, many Whistlerites dislike skiing on weekends, so the line-ups might not be that bad. Be polite and courteous to everyone you meet.

F: 11 Relay and enjoy the wilderness. You will likely not see many people on the mountain, five bowls disperse skiers very well. And most Fernieites don’t ski; they sled, snowshoe and XC ski, and Albertian’s only show up on holidays. Everyone is friendly, don’t be afraid to look at people.

WB: 12 DON’T expect to get long, unskied runs like the kind you see in the MSP/Red Bull movies. Those are all filmed in the backcountry “using professional models and stuntmen,” as they say in the movies.

F: 12 Expect to get long, unskied runs like the kind you see in the movies. Fernie skis like the backcountry except without Whistler’s professional models and stuntmen, that you see in the movies.

So here’s to Fernie’s one centemeter, these are images of the older Siggers twin skiing today:

Siggers-powder Fernie Powder

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