The mountain operations manager at [R146R, Fernie Alpine Resort] jumped into his skis before Halloween to grab a couple turns when the first major dump of snow blanketed the slopes with 16 inches (40 centimeters) in one night. The first big snowfall is just a taste of what the season might hold in the Canadian Rockies, but Fernie powder skiers will find improvements to the slopes, too.

Skiers and riders heading to Easter Bowl or Sky Dive, but hate the tiptoe along the Sky Dive Traverse to get there, will find easier access this winter. Blasting of rocks on the traverse is intended to mellow out the access to the black diamond runs.

"Nothing is more delicious than experiencing Easter Bowl as it is usually filled deep with untracked, undiscovered powder," Matt Mosteller, vice president of Resorts of the Canadian Rockiers, owner and operator of Fernie, reminded us. We concur, as the run is a favorite of ours, too. Skiers can now ride an improved traverse to the hidden north-facing powder bowl that acts as a snow collector without the snow-transforming action of direct sun.

Glading in Cedar Bowl may find more appeal with intermediate skiers. Selective tree removal in between Cruiser and Cedar Center opened up new off piste lines for exploration.

Summer work addressed the bushes, small trees, and downed timbers clogging some of the runs in the Boomerang Chairlift area in recent years. "For most locals, the Old Side, as they call it, is their favorite place, but the brush and alder grows fast in this area as well," said Mosteller. "Giving Boomerang a shave this summer will allow those fall-line powder skiers to enjoy it earlier in the season." Crews whacked back brush and removed fallen logs to take Bear Chutes, Boomerang, Boomerang Ridge, and Linda's Run back to their former status.

Fernie also added two new grooming snowcats this year. One of them is a new winch cat to aid in grooming steep slopes.

The resort honored local Olympic skier Emily Brydon by dedicating a race training run to her. Spruce in Cedar Bowl has been renamed to Emily's.

The ski area started amassing snow in October. Opening day is scheduled for Dec. 4.