Stay at Warren Miller’s Old Stomping Ground
Island Lake Lodge has moved way past its ski-bum beginnings, but the snow will still make you want to quit your day job.
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It’s been more than 20 years since legendary ski-film director Warren Miller was shooting movies in the mountains above Island Lake Lodge, back when it was a single bunkhouse with an old snowcat. The place has grown up since then, and it now has four lodges, a spa, and a 3,000-bottle wine cellar.
What hasn’t changed is the world-class cat skiing. Surrounded by a 7,000-acre valley outside Fernie, British Columbia, Island Lake boasts enough gladed runs, alpine bowls, and plummeting chutes to satisfy even the greediest skiers. The best part? The lodge owns every bit of it, guaranteeing you first tracks all day long.
Heated snowcats with iPod docks and padded seats haul guests and guides for an average of 12 runs and 15,000 vertical feet per day. After tackling that, grab a pint of nearby Fernie Brewing Company‘s Ol’ Willy Wit and some hot soup to enjoy by the river-rock fireplace. Creature comforts like these—and bison short-rib dinners—make the aprés almost as good as the skiing.
The lodge accommodates just 36 guests and sees average annual snowfall of 470 inches, so you’ll feel like you’re floating in your own snow globe when the cat drops you at the ridge in the morning. You’ll have trouble seeing it, though, because of all the powder flying off your skis.
Prep for Your Powder Fix
Access: Fly into Calgary and catch a shuttle to Fernie. A snowcat takes you to the lodge. From US$1,980 for three nights and three days of cat skiing, all-inclusive; islandlakecatskiing.com
Forecast: January: 26° high, 10° low
Detour: Take a break from the slopes to kick and glide on groomed Nordic trails circling the lake. It’s the most peaceful way to experience the old-growth snowscape around Island Lake.
Indulge: A day of turns in waist-deep powder can blast even the strongest legs. Tune up tight muscles with a soak in a Japanese tub and a deep-tissue massage (US$92) at the lodge’s spa.