At Fernie Alpine Resort, the name of the game is regression. Not in a bad way, of course. This small but iconic skiers’ mountain is tucked into the southeastern corner of British Columbia near the Montana border, and in recent years has started to slide back into the same authentic Kootenay skiing Mecca that originally attracted the limelight. In 1996, the rustic mountain was bought up in a sweep by a Canadian ski resort conglomerate. In a familiar move for the era, the T-bars were torn up, high-speed quads were installed, and logging operations commenced. The result was a rapidly expanded ski resort that brought unprecedented crowds. And then—in the wake of new resort expansions in Golden and Revelstoke—it all went away.
The Fernie of today is enjoying a return to “back in the day.” The crowds have mostly dispersed in a diplomatic fashion to populate the glut of high-quality resorts spread across the Kootenays and Rockies, leaving a more reasonable amount of people on her steep, snowy, and sometimes burly alpine bowls and ridges. Fernie still has the terrain to keep serious skiers on their edges, but it no longer has the ridiculous lift lines.–Mike Berard