Snow has been stacking in the Lizard Range all day long, despite predictions calling for it to let up last night. “Locals have dubbed this sort of thing the ‘Fernie Factor,’” says our tail guide, Dave Atkinson. “These mountains will take a forecasted 10 centimeters and turn it into 20, or even 30, like it has here this weekend.” Thirty centimeters would quickly rise to 40 by the following morning, and later top out at 50 during our three-day stay at Island Lake Lodge. It’s late March and nearing the end of the cat operation’s season, but the Fernie Factor is still in full swing.
Situated in the East Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia, the mountains surrounding Island Lake Lodge help form its own microclimate. Weather rolls in without much obstruction from the west before getting trapped by the area’s powerful peaks, then proceeds to dump snow well beyond what a snowboarder could typically find this far inland. Because of its abundance of deep, soft powder, Island Lake Lodge has cemented itself as a world-class catboarding destination for more than three decades. And it only takes one run for our crew to see what the hype is about.
Fortunately, it was the first untouched run of many—about a dozen per day. The only challenge we’re regularly facing is being blinded by the waves of white that fly up with nearly every turn, and all of us can agree that it’s a good problem to have. Fresh, loose snow forces us to hold off on some of the steeper lines, but waist deep runs through the trees keeps our crew satiated. We came expecting playful conditions, but these face-shots far exceed what everyone had in mind traveling out here. Thank goodness for the Fernie Factor.
A special thanks to Mike McPhee, guides Mark Veseley and Dave Atkinson, chefs Keith Farkas and JP Pedhirney, and the rest of the Island Lake Lodge crew for an unforgettable few days. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out the season.