The 70cm rule

The Fernie Alpine Resort Ski Condition column by Keith Leggit.

“Robin, I just checked the storm board. We’ve had 28cm since six.”

‘Thanks, Robin out.”

Ski patrol radio transmission at 10 a.m. Sunday morning.

To be noted– at 6 a.m. FAR reported 40cm overnight. Do the math.

There’s a rule, spoken only half in jest, that with 20cm, all Fernie meetings move to the Timber Chair at 9 a.m.  Essentially, at 20cm, Fernie goes skiing.

With some, the rule remains implied. With others, the rule is stated clearly on the door. For hours of operation, Giv’er Shirtworks’ sign actually says:

15cm rule. On powder days we open @ 12. Sorry for any inconvenience but when it snows we need to Giv’er.

On the recent champagne Tuesday and the following Wednesday, The Guides Hut posted a hand scrawled (clearly very hurriedly) note, “We will open late due to the awesome skiing.”

All this leads to last weekend.

Friday dawned clear. By 10 a.m. the Lizard Range disappeared and by noon the snow reached town accumulating immediately on the sidewalk, the parked cars and the railings. The snow fell heavily all day. Snow stacked steadily on the phone lines and on the branches of the mountain ashes. In typical Fernie fashion, the snow fell straight down without wind.

Saturday on the hill was epic. And it kept on snowing. Snowing hard. I left the hill shaking my head and smug that I’d traded Sunday off for a short stint with a school group on Monday. Sunday promised to be one for the books.

Sunday the town was invisible, covered by the season’s second massive dump. I watched the snow continue drinking coffee knowing this would be a day.

At quarter of nine, the Deer looked like the Timber on a powder day. The Timber looked like a Wal-Mart on Black Friday morning. The Elk the same.

No matter what your gripe with the ski area, you cannot say they overstate snow received. By the time the above quoted patrol transmission stating the “28cm” new was complete, we’d likely had the two cm to take us over 70cm.

At 70 cm all bets are off. All rules and conventions are suspended. Life as we know it stops.

You ski.

You ski until you drop, then pull yourself up, take one more run and drag your sorry tired ass up the stairs to the Griz Bar. Sitting at the long table, you drink beer and listen to a great blues band, a Blues Brothers sound-alike, the perfect denouement to the skiing.

At the long table, the laughter is louder, the talk louder and the head shaking constant. A feeling of disbelief permeates every person. Tracks filled as you passed. First tracks. Second tracks. Third tracks. All equal.

On Boom, you’d hit a bump expecting to be launched and drive through momentarily buried. It wasn’t a Buddy Day. It was a Pack Day. We skied in packs for safety.

And Monday, clearing, with drifts of clouds pink and orange in the sunrise, the day promised another stellar day.

A promise kept.

And now it’s back to “The Normal.”