January 01, 2000
That's more like it!
Griz apparently returned from some holiday junket to celebrate New Year's with a nice little dump of powder. The snow was ankle deep in my driveway this morning and boot high to almost knee deep up on the hill. While this would not constitute a Fernie Mega day, it would take even more of a curmudgeon than I to deny that the skiing was excellent. The new snow skied very nicely even when cut up and despite the holiday crowds it was certainly possible to find fresh turns if you went looking. Line ups were also minimal. Snake ridge and the Concussion chutes stood out in our day, but everything was just plain great, particularly after a two week drought.
The carvable underlying base provided an ideal foundation for the new snow and the quantity was just enough to be very enjoyable while still allowing them to open the entire hill except for the face lift. Currie didn't open until about noon, but that was all the better as it provided for a delightful afternoon.
Given the above, our weekend guests, who have been vilified in this report in the past as rain gods, are demanding a retraction., While the snow arrived almost as they did. I am holding out for confirmation, but with lots of snow continuing to fall, a concession appears likely.
On a much more somber note, the hill was buzzing with rumours of a tragic accident yesterday. While I have no hard information, it seems that a young man had an uncontrolled slide on one of the Concussion Chutes (Barracuda?) and apparently suffered massive head injuries after striking something. The rumour is that he realized that he was on terrain too that was too tough for him and took off his skis to attempt to walk down. While this would seem reasonable to someone unfamiliar with steep terrain, it certainly sends a chill through those who know how hard it would be to walk down a slope that steep when the conditions were firm.
Fatalities have been uncommon at Fernie and I can only recall four, but three of those involved uncontrolled slides. While I would have considered the conditions still pretty safe for anyone well versed in the dangers of slides on steep slopes and aware of the need for immediate and effective efforts at self arrest, the possibility of slides was certainly there and definitely a hazard to the uninitiated. It is certainly worth emphasizing that Fernie has some very serious terrain that might be far more technically demanding than a visitor is used to. Although I harp on it else where on my page, it bears repeating that I, and other Fernie regulars, often discuss some pretty expert terrain in very caviler terms. Folks unfamiliar with our terrain should be cautious until they get a feel for it.
At 7:30 in the evening of this new year, it is -3 C at the house and snowing.