Powder Highway road trip part 1: Storm riding in Fernie
I COULDN’T BE THIS CLOSE and not be a part of it.
Matador CEO Ross Borden and filmmaker Brian Chu were flying in from New York and San Francisco, respectively, to drive a portion of the “Powder Highway,” a stretch of mountains in the southeast of British Columbia, close to the Alberta and US borders. They flew into Calgary, rented an SUV, and headed straight for Fernie, their first stop.
I hopped a Greyhound from my home in Nelson and arrived, five hours later, at 1:15am at a Fernie gas station. I exited the bus rubbing my eyes and scanned the vacant parking lot for the taxi that Tourism Fernie had arranged to bring me to the lodge. It pulled up a minute later.
Ross and Brian were sound asleep when I got into the room, resting up for an epic day. Laptops, cables, and camera gear were strewn about the dinner table. I converted the couch into my bed, crawled in, and grabbed a few hours of sleep myself.
I would only be with them for this portion of their trip, so I had to make the most of it. In the morning, I got outfitted with a GoPro helmet cam and we hit the hill. Breakfast was a sandwich concoction that contained sausage, bacon, eggs, cheese, and a hashbrown patty. The snow quality was a mixed bag, as they hadn’t had much fresh in the days leading up. But we found some stashes, thanks to being partnered with the head of the patrol team, who took us up their newest lift, Polar Peak, while it was closed due to inclement weather. We located some untracked lines and dug in.
Local freeskier Dylan Siggers joined us on the second day and showed us some of his favourite spots (check out his latest video, skiing in 35 inches of fresh powder) while we filmed him flying off cliffs and front-flipping off cat tracks (see video above).
Sandwiching the ski days, we hit the town for some apres in the evening, checking out the Kodiak Lounge in the Raging Elk Hostel. I made Ross and Brian order some caesars, their first experience with the Canadian cocktail (“so…it’s basically a bloody mary?” said Ross).
It was a whirlwind trip for me; less than 48 hours after I arrived, they were dropping me off at the gas station to catch my bus back to Nelson. I met an old Japanese skier waiting for the same bus to be taken to Whistler for a freeskiing camp. I asked him how long the bus ride was. It was 19.5 hours. Now that’s dedication.
I plugged my iPod earphones in and waved bye to Ross and Brian in their rent car, the front end pointed toward Golden, their next destination, to ride Kicking Horse.
Editor’s note: This content was produced in partnership with Kootenay Rockies Tourism.