Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just Kidding

I really wish this was what it was like today but actually it's a picture of Lynda and me in Fish bowl last year. The pitch behind us is the steep chutes usually full of alders but totally covered after a massive dump. This was probably the most awsome run ever in untracked thigh deep powder so lets hope we get some of that in the season to come.

On a positive note we had about 5 cms overnight and probably double that on the hill. The base is still around 100cms with opening scheduled for Friday which is way better than many years. About 3 years ago we opened with 35 cms which was very sketchy - I have actually mountain biked in more snow than that. Another interesting point is that looking up into Fish bowl from my deck there just doesn't seem to be so many alders so maybe the wet spring avies from last year's huge base has ripped out some of the young growth - here's hoping.

Having killed a few days around town doing such vital tasks as firing up the hot tub and hanging the Christmas lights on the deck and the tree in the front yard I now have a better feel for what has changed in Fernie and the answer is not much - thank (insert deity of choice). The reason we all come back here each season or live here all year round is because we like it as it is.

Of course there are all the usual rumours about changes - a new ski area to be developed on Fernie ridge with a gondola from town - (yet another) new golf course with attached property development - massive development of the hill including condos, a hotel, a people mover (?) - several new condo developments around town etc. Over the years I think I have heard every permutation of the above plus more stuff and here we are with no real change. I guess some of it will happen one day but until then I think I'll just chill out, ski with my buddies, take what comes and believe the changes when I see them.

On the subject of change work still goes on with the new Polar Peak lift wich remains to a small extent in kit form at the base of the hill. Everyone tells me it will only take two clear flying days to heli everything into place but I'm not holding my breath. Even after construction there has to be safety testing, adjustment and certification - if it's up and running by the Christmas holidays I will be amazed, hope I'm wrong.

Something else has me puzzled and that is the 50th year celebrations of skiing on the hill. The publicity is very specific about the date of the start and even who rode the first chair (Heiko and Linda) . I happened to be in the Fernie museum ( well worth a vist if you have time to kill down town) and that had pictures of the opening day of the ski hill (then known as Snow Valley) in January 1963. Must find out exactly what happened between November 1961 and Jan 1963 as it is starting to worry me.

Finally a word of warning to my Brit followers of whom I know there are quite a few. Fernie is going to be a tough nut to crack for Brits this year due to 3 problems -

-Canada was a cheap place at $2.50 to the pound like when I bought the house here. At $1.60 it isn't cheap and in certain respects is getting quite expensive although not quite as bad as Europe from what I have been told.

-The policy of the hill is still no discounts for multi day tickets so if you are here for 10 days high season you will have to fork out $800 plus tax. The Skimore card does represent a good discount deal but this may not be sold to Europeans because it would undercut the discount arrangements with the European tour operators. Tough luck for Brits, especially if they are not travelling with a tour operator.

-Getting here is expensive. Air Canada used to reduce their prices as the winter approached but not this year. I flew over on an almost empty BA flight (only because it was part of a round the world package involving attending a budddies wedding in Sydney on the way home in May). I use to always fly Air Canada as it was only marginally more expensive than charter but no more. Best bet is to try Canadian Affair who seem to have the only reasonably priced flights and try and get on one of their Air Transat flights (avoid Thomas Cook flights like the plage as everytime I have flown with them there is something wrong with the seat reclining, or entertainment system or something else which just about makes a 9 and a half hour flight bearable.)

All that having been said there does appear to be quite a large number of young Brits about and I can only assume that there are still a few comparativly wealthy parents who think it's worth while getting shot of their teenage offspring for a few months at any price - you have to admit it's a fair point of view.

Enough ramblings for me. Out last night for wings night at the pub, off to the movie house tonight, seeing friends at their place on the hill for dinner on Thursday, opening day party Friday, hockey Saturday - who said life in a small mountain town is quiet. First day report proper to come in a couple of days.

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