December 23, 2000

Not Bad for No Snow

I stole today's title from a chairlift companion's comment (thanks Dave) because it seemed so apt. Indeed there were some fine turns to be had out there considering how little snow we have, but there were some not so good ones as well. Alas there was no more than an insulting skiff of snow overnight, so not surprisingly conditions are continuing their slow decline.

I heard from a couple of sources today of folks reading my reports and then coming to the hill themselves and feeling that I had been being overly negative. Even my wife seems to think I am rather harsh. Fair enough and I will certainly cop to being a negative sort (I prefer to think the majority of folks are just obsessively cheerful), but after thinking about it, I am sticking with my assessments.

Consider that folks who have skied here for years seem to agree that this is the worst opening in about twenty five years. By the ski hill's own assessment, less than half of the hill is open (45/106 runs) and of those that are open, many are choked with bushes. Granted dodging alders is a time honored Fernie tradition, but this is rather extreme and this year there are the rocks. Skiing Fernie should mean not really getting the idea behind P-Tex candles because after all they don't give off much light and smell rather bad. However while I have gone years between serious scratches at Fernie, I have had two core shots in three days and I am pretty sure both were on main runs and at least one was from the old side. With a base near the top of the mountain of a mere 88 cm covering our rugged the terrain, it would be a miracle if there weren't rocks.

As I have pointed out, there has been some very good skiing on some of the groomed runs. Unfortunately there probably aren't more than half a dozen runs in decent shape off of the upper mountain and repeatedly skiing the same crowd gets old pretty fast. Most of the lower green runs are also in good shape, but they are rather less than compelling. There are some areas where skiing around the bushes off trail is kind of fun, but personally I find the constant vigil for ugly surprises tends to remove some of the pleasure.

Perhaps the conditions would be acceptable for someplace like Lake Louise, but by the standards I have become used to at Fernie, I still think it is pretty bad. Yes it is still a lot better than doing the dishes and you can still have fun out there, particularly if you have disposable skis. However if I were a visitor arriving to sample the fabled Fernie delights, I think I would be mighty disappointed.

At 7:00 PM it is -6 C at the house and probably cloudy (it's dark).

Good - between Sunnyside and Arrow (not hazard free though).

Bad - middle of Bow in lower Lizard

Ugly - fresh divots, fortunately in rock skis