A Local’s Perfect Day: Max Sherwood
If you’re lucky, in the right place at the right time, you might see Max Sherwood descending a backcountry run waist-deep in Fernie’s legendary powder.
He’ll fly past, zipping through the trees dressed in high-performance skiwear and goggles.
The only sound you’ll hear is the wind in the trees and his fine carving skis. This is Sherwood’s perfect winter day in the Rocky Mountains. It is a reflection of what can be done in one of the world’s great winter destinations.
“The nice thing here, is there are multiple things to do right around town,” says the former ski racer and ski coach. “You might not be able to do them in a day, but you could do most of them in a couple days.”
“The perfect day for me is backcountry skiing,” Max shares. “And that involves a drive out to the backcountry area. Usually, you take a snowmobile with you and a truck. Drop the snowmobile off, and then you begin your hiking from there. And you spend the day back there, up and down doing laps, and then come back. And that’s a full day.”
Sherwood says that his typical backcountry run ranges from 1000 to 1500 vertical feet.
“Usually it’s an hour to ski up and ski down,” he explains. “You might only get four or five runs in a day, but there’s nobody else around. You’re on your own. Usually untracked. Spectacular scenery. That’s all day long.”
Safety and avalanche awareness are the cornerstone of Sherwood’s winter ski adventures.
“I’ve taken the courses and done it for years,” he says. “I go with other people who are equally experienced or even more experienced. Likeminded in terms of sense of adventure. That’s important.”
Untracked powder can be found on every run. That’s what Sherwood and his friends look for.
“The price you pay is the amount of time it takes to get back there,” he explains. “You’re a 45-minute drive. Another half an hour on a snow sled. Then you’re another hour to get to the top before you get your first run in. That’s a two-and-a-half-hour loop before you get your first run. We’re usually on our way by seven in the morning. Your pushing dark by the time you drive home. That’s your day. It’s just spectacular.”
There’s more to Fernie winters than backcountry skiing explains Sherwood.
“One of the best things is to get in some cross-country skiing and some snowshoeing, then what we try to do is leave town around three in the afternoon, park in the upper parking lot at the ski hill, get on the Timber Chair, and get the last ride up Polar Peak. So now you can just hang out at Polar Peak, look around a little bit, and then have one heck of a long ski run down the Currie Bowl.” The view from Polar Peak motivates Sherwood and his friends.
“You can see all the way over into Alberta,” he says with an enthusiastic smile. “You can see way down into the Flathead Valley. You can look up behind the Three Sisters. It’s an unbelievable view from up there. After that you can come down for an evening cross-country ski. Another day would be to stay in town and do all the things we do here.”