Snow safety director Tyler Carson checking the snowpack conditions on Red Tree in Snake Ridge. (Courtesy of Robin Siggers)

Snow safety director Tyler Carson checking the snowpack conditions on Red Tree in Snake Ridge. (Courtesy of Robin Siggers)

‘Incredible powder skiing’: FAR conditions looking good for new year

Conditions this year are already turning out to be better than last

Conditions at the Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) are “off to a great start” this year, and heavy snowfall in the Elk Valley suggests that trend is likely to continue.

“We’ve had some incredible powder skiing,” said FAR weather expert and operations manager, Robin Siggers.

On Monday, Jan. 3, a snowfall warning was in effect for the Elk Valley, with 15 to 20 centimetres expected to fall through the day and night.

The 2021 season got off to a late start due to lack of snow, heavy rain, and overall “miserable weather for skiing.” Opening day was meant to be on Dec. 4, but was pushed a week forward to Dec. 11.

READ MORE: FAR opening day kicks off with heavy snowfall, hundreds at Timber Chair

“The first week we were open we started with mandatory down-loading and limited lifts, and then by the middle of the week we had all our lifts open and still had relatively thin conditions.”

Early season hazards and conditions were “pretty much dealt with” by the Christmas snowfall, Siggers said.

“The last two weeks have been some of the best powder skiing you’re ever going to get on any given day. So now the resort is fully open and operational, and with excellent conditions throughout. So we’re sitting pretty, looking good, and skiing is amazing.”

On Jan. 3, Snake Ridge, Cedar High Traverse, Lizard Bowl Traverse, The Saddles and Polar Peak were all closed. Everything else was open.

Work was being done on Snake Ridge when The Free Press spoke with Siggers on Dec. 31, and avalanche control was still on the docket for The Saddles. Polar Peak was still “a little ways away” from opening due to extreme cold and the challenges of the terrain.

On Jan. 3, Siggers said The Saddles were ready, but would be open after the snow storm. He did not give a specific date, and said “when it’s safe.”

Overall, the conditions this season are in better shape than last year.

“We already have almost more snow on the ground that we had all of last year.”

Siggers provided some specific numbers on Dec. 31.

Since the beginning of November, FAR had seen 511 centimetres of snow. Since opening day, they had seen 323 centimetres.

The total settled snow on the ground Dec. 31 was 221 centimetres, which was down from the 248 centimetre peak due to more settlement from “low density cold powder” they received over Christmas.

At the turn of the new year, they had an “excellent base” to work with.

“And everything from now on is going to be just exceptional. So it’s looking really good.”


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