Top 5 Fernie Slackcountry Experiences
Photo by Chad Chicilo
Fernie Alpine Resort has some excellent skiing, but just outside the boundary ropes lie something even better. The slackcountry. What is slackcountry? A backcountry experience with easier access. But just because it is easier doesn’t mean it doesn’t carry with it the same risks as the real backcountry. It should never be accessed without the same training and gear, and remember these areas are not controlled or patrolled.
This is the ridge on your right when skiing Falling Star in Sibera Bowl. Access it by cutting all the way across Falling Star from the top of the Timber Chair. You can tour or hike up to the saddle and drop in anywhere in the trees ending up right back on Falling Star. You can also drop in away from the resort, eventually ending up on the lower cross country trail loop with an easy skate and glide back to the resort - although it isn’t nearly as much fun as the trees that lead back to Falling Star.
From the saddle of Mongolia Ridge you can continue south, away from the resort, across Mongolia Bowl (note the avalanche paths you are crossing!) and up onto the next ridge. Here you can ski the trees back down into Mongolia Bowl and will eventually end up on the cross country loop back towards the resort.
Accessed from the top of the Snake Ridge traverse, you drop under the ropes and away from the resort into Fish Bowl. Here you will find naturally gladed trees all the way to the bottom where a short hike will lead you back towards the Haul Back T-bar return road. Somehow there always seems to be more snow and of better quality here than the rest of the resort.
2000 Foot Ridge
This is the next ridge north from Snake Ridge on the far side of Fish Bowl, accessed by skiing Poppa’s run to the bottom of Fish Bowl and skinning up the ridge on the other side. Play it safe by riding in the trees on the crest of the ridge. If your snow-pit is looking stable you can venture off to skiers right into the wide open. This run is heli-ski quality with a top-notch fall line. But beware, this is a high-danger avalanche zone.
Cement Chutes AKA Cement Mixer
If you have toured up to the top of 2000 Foot Ridge you might have looked down this chute which drops into Fish Bowl from the top. There are multiple cliff bands and chutes to choose from, all of which run on different angles and cambers. The chutes converge in the middle to form the cement mixer. If you make it out alive you can easily ski down to the bottom of fish bowl and catch the trail back to the Haul Back.
NOTE: It’s called the cement mixer for a good reason! So, if you aren’t an expert skier with expert avalanche training, you shouldn’t even think of going here.
Fernie Search and Rescue’s Top Ten List of Gear to Take into the Backcountry:
5. Navigation equipment
6. Extra clothing
7. Food and drink
8. First Aid pack
10. Communication equipment
Have fun and play safe!