While brutal cold ranging from -10 to -18 made us bundle up in extra layers so we resembled the Pillsbury Dough Boy, the ice-clear weather yielded spectacular views. Since the last new dump had fallen a few days earlier, I expected Fernie's famous open bowls to be well tracked out. But how wrong I was. In fact, there's so much terrain, that finding first tracks even several days after a storm was easy. Mountain Operations Manager Robin Siggers, who has worked at the resort for over 30 years, told us that it's frequently like that. Freshies can go on for days.
The mountain's five bowls carve different aspects into the hill--you can hop turns down an east-facing slope that may pick up a bit more sun...or head for a north-facing chute than harbors deep powder. Rather than skiing back to the base area, you can swing on high traverses between bowls. One worth checking out is the traverse below Polar Peak from the top of White Pine Chair to Easter Bowl; it drops onto a nearly knife-edge ridge where you can let your stomach do a flip-flop just looking down the double black diamond Corner Pocket. While the chute opens onto a broad bowl, just getting there would require more guts and maneuverability than I had in my umpteen layers of clothes. Instead, we swung around to Easter Bowl for some cushion-soft powders turns.
While Fernie has plenty of rolling groomers for those so inclined, it's reputation stems from wide glades and steeps. Combined with no lift lines, you can't go wrong.