When the NSMBA introduced the TAP program back in 2011, the wheels were already in motion on the revitalization of Expresso on Mt. Fromme. Through the MEC Trail Fund in years past, NSMB.com had helped line Digger up with projects on King of the Shore, Ladies Only, Big Stupid, and Lower Ladies. The veteran builder was thirsty for yet another marquee project and Expresso was a prime candidate for a Digger-ization.
In 2012 we broke ground on Expresso – and it was a project of such large scope that Digger couldn’t do it alone as he had with the other trails supported by the MEC Trail Fund. Fortunately the TAP program expanded to include Fromme, and we were able to put not one, but two trail crews to work. Six trail days from our NSMB.com / RockShox crew and another six from the folks at MEC.
Many hands made light work and Digger’s vision became reality fifty to a hundred metres at a time. Now in our second year of a double TAP adoption, a ribbon of gold stretches most of the way from Mountain Highway down to the Baden Powell Trail.
The work we’ve put in is nothing short of amazing. The highly eroded, expert only original line now has a more intermediate-friendly parallel that’s fun for everyone. Not to toot our own horns too much here, but if you haven’t been up to see the new work, we’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Care for a shot of Expresso?
Mark Weir is one of the most compelling characters in mountain biking. This short vid from our friends at bike mag gives some great insight into what makes him tick. With Dan Barham on the cameras and Seb Kemp and Vernon Felton asking the questions you know it’s going to be solid.
Many of us who ride bikes use it as therapy – but Mark takes it to the next level. Feel free to add your two bits below.
Every year the Decline Symposium goes off in Whistler involving Decline Magazine editors, product testers, and industry representatives. Chris Winter of Big Mountain Bike Adventures took the opportunity to take a classic heli-drop from the Pemberton Meadows, and put his own spin on it for all the attendees of the Symposium.
It was an opportunity for Big Mountain to give the Symposium a unique and special trip unlike any year previous. By the look on their faces at the end of the day, Big Mountain showed Decline what true backcountry BC mountain biking was all about, and they had learned how about Chris Winter’s desire to imprint fond and lasting memories.
Great day for staging 2 big bike slings. 35 bikes in two trips take some serious organization. Photo Stephen Matthews.
Big Mountain is known as the leader in mountain bike travel, and at the helm of the company Winter is a mastermind of good times and adventure. Chris started Big Mountain 10 years ago this year, and has successfully navigated mountain bike travel around the world. Based out of Whistler, he has a strong connection with the Sea to Sky corridor and loves sharing his passion for classic descents such as Tenquille Lake. This privately made trip for Decline Magazine was led by Chris Winter, Adrian Bostock, Paige Bell, Seb Wild, and myself.
Seb Wild and I seen here, contemplating the negatives of being tall. Photo Chris Winter.
Tenquille Lake is a beautiful and pristine area in the sub-alpine above the Pemberton Meadows. There are multiple ways to approach the lake, but descending down from 1000ft above the lake on alpine scree and snow is an experience not many get. The typical heli-approach is to navigate off of Mount Barbour, and descend down towards old miner trails. With Barbour still covered in snow, we had to make adaptations to the plan and come up with an alternate route. After some fly by scoping, and radio discussions, we chose to drop a southeast facing aspect above the lake, keeping the adventure alive for Chris Winter, and the excitement at an all time high for the clients.
Adrian Bostock guides up at Tyax Lodge in the summertime. He came down for the special occasion and led the safety speech for the second group from the Decline Symposium. Photo Chris Winter.
Helicopters are the best way to travel. Photo Chris Winter.
With 30 clients from the Decline Symposium being led by the 5 of us, everyone got an amazing trip in the helicopter. The heli was logistically organized to accommodate 2 bike slings and 7 round trips delivering people, so everyone got their fair share of views and breathtaking meadow lounge time. Taking a helicopter flight up from the flat and wide farming lands of the Pemberton Meadows and into the steep drainage of Tenquille Lake is a pretty surreal experience for a lot of people. Landing on top of a wild backcountry descent 1000ft above the lake is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Pete Stace-Smith of Norco Bicycles loved the exploratory upper bowl riding. Photo Chris Winter.
From the location of the drop, we descended in two separate groups down snow and scree, across alpine fields, riding faint glimpses of singletrack between all mountain interpretation sections. Once at the lake, the first group took the opportunity to snap photos and get their feet wet while waiting for their co-workers and friends. There is a sub-alpine traverse out of the drainage before you come face to face with the Pemberton Valley, and once you reach the view there’s a fast traverse of soft singletrack and loose technical rock to the bottom. Tenquille Trail saw a massive forest fire a few summers ago, so parts of the descent are quite a bit more technical than they used to be. Cruising through the burn into the thick woods has that classic Pemberton feel of loose drifting on dust and rock. It’s an amazing feeling to be riding fully wide open and concentrated on a piece of singletrack for thousands of vertical feet.
At this stage of the ride you got to choose your own adventure down to the lake. Drew Rohde of Decline Magazine caught here looking on to his co-worker taking the plunge. Photo Stephen Matthews.
I asked Chris Winter a few questions about what it’s like putting together these adventures, and what he likes to see out of the day.
Stephen Matthews: Chris, how did this day opportunity to work with Decline Magazine come about?
Chris Winter: Big Mountain Adventures was approached by Decline Magazine to create an epic day of riding outside of the Whistler Bike Park. Big groups and challenging logistics in remote locations are our specialty, so of course we jumped at the opportunity. Our first challenge was to find a trail that would suit the variety of riding levels and bike types. The trail request was super fun, not too technical and generally downhill. Mount Barbour and Tenquille Lake was the perfect choice but a few things had to be eliminated out of the equation before confirming the event.
SM: What kind of issues can backcountry trips have?
CW: Blow down can be a big problem on this trail so we had local Pemberton riders scoping it for us leading up to the event. We’d had a big snow year and a cold spring so snow was an issue. The pilot did a fly by a week out and he came back saying at least a meter on North-facing slopes. Ouch. Then of course the weather, helicopters don’t like flying if they can’t see. 24 hours out, we made a call that the trip was a go. We made the call to abort dropping on the summit of Barbour and instead chose a south-facing shoulder about 1000 feet above Tenquille Lake.
SM: Client numbers for this trip were pretty big for a heli-drop, how do you think it went?
CW: We had 35 bikes and 35 riders in the high alpine on a Saturday morning. Amazing! In the end the descent was adventurous but we made it out with a few scrapes, some big smiles and a ride that the riders won’t forget.
Loving the backcountry singletrack from the cockpit of my 650b! Photo Stephen Matthews.
Ever done a heli or float plane trip with bikes? Drop in with your adventure stories below…
NSMB team rider Mark Matthews is a bona fide booster. His riding in Rupert Walker’s video short filmed up at the Whistler Bike Park turned heads (as usual). When it all goes right, he sends his Demo into orbit and brings it down as gently as a kitten in a room full of 3-ply. But when it all goes Pete Tong, that amplitude translates into some frightening ground rush. Thankfully he crashes with impressive skill, too. Here are a few shots that didn’t make the cut, for obvious reasons.
Do Mark’s misses make you cringe, or is back flipping big doubles in the woods just routine now?
NSMB Team rider Mark Matthews has settled in to his summer digs in Whistler, and is back in the bike park styling up every jump out there. This past week it was pouring rain, but that didn’t stop Rupert Walker from hooking up with Mark to put together a fun little edit for Chromag.
The Whistler Bike Park is amazing right now. The trail crew’s efforts and the lucky wave of warm weather have helped shape some unreal trail conditions. The dirt is tacky and there are some fresh sections of trail new for 2013 that scatter the lower mountain.
Even in the pouring rain, Rupert and I had an awesome time shooting this video. Filming in the bike park is awesome because it’s easy to capture footage that’s fast, flowy, and fun to watch.
Mark’s style is super fun to watch… keep an eye out there for him in Whistler!