Pemberton positions itself to be the heart of alpine mountain-biking, aka “The Hub of the Wheel”


Pemberton positions itself to be the heart of alpine mountain-biking, aka “The Hub of the Wheel”

Mountain adventurers are prone to staring into topographical maps as if looking into a crystal ball.  Ridgelines, valleys, and waterways give rise to visions of the future, of adventures to be had, of stories waiting to be experienced.

Whistler adventurers, like Johnny “Foon” Chilton and the late Chris “Beeker” Romeskie, have often seen something even grander in the topos  – an image of Pemberton as “the hub of the wheel.”

“If you look at Pemberton through Google Earth,”  says Johnny Foon, “it’s a hub.  All the spokes of different ranges go off from here into the Chilcotins, the Duffey to Lillooet, up to Whistler. Geographically, Pemberton is the place. Whistler is just a spoke off it.”

The Valley at the centre of it all is now positioning itself to become the actual gateway to epic alpine mountain bike adventures. “We claim to be the Gateway to Adventure,” says Foon, “but we’re not yet. Because you can’t access our alpine.”

Foon plans to change that.

A ski mountaineering legend, with a number of first descents in the Coast Mountains  New Zealand, Alaska, the Yukon and China to his name, Foon was a pro skier for 15 years. He skied big faces and steep lines all around the world – and rock-climbed at the world’s rock Meccas, to make sure he had the skills he needed in the mountains.  Like many accomplished mountaineers,  he’s humble and low-key about his accomplishments, disinclined to hyperbole. So when Johnny Foon says, “In all those travels, there’s nowhere better than here,” it’s time to sit up and listen.

“There was a period in my thirties when I was sponsored and there was enough funding coming in that I could do whatever I wanted, go wherever I wanted. And after coming to Pemberton, I was doing it less and less.  I started looking more locally, because everything I wanted was right here.”

The premise of the PVTA slideshow to be held Friday June 11 2010 at 8pm at the Pemberton Community Centre, is not just to fundraise for this summer’s trail-work, but to share Foon’s big vision of Pemberton as the Hub of the Wheel.  “As we connect this trail this summer, the length of rides you can do here is beyond anything out there.”

The PVTA’s summer priority is to complete construction of a trail from above the celltower at the top of MacKenzie Ridge along the ridge to Owl Lake. This would complete a link, currently dubbed “The MacKenzie Mainline”,  that creates an epic cross-country alpine mountain bike ride, from Pemberton, up via up-tracks Happy Trail, Nimby and the new Middle Earth, to the new Paragliding launch, along the ridge all the way to Owl Lake, and over to the Owl Lake Chain Link (another trail built last summer that links Fowl Lake, Ogre Lake, Mt Barber and Tenquille Lake.)

Foon envisions the “MacKenzie Mainline” as a line down a centre of a leaf, connecting the Pemberton and Birkenhead trail networks, that would branch off like hundreds of little veins.

“The Hub of the Wheel” is already in motion.   According to local bike shop guy, Pemberton Bike Co’s Johnny Inglis, “We have seen a lot of people coming to town in the last year to specifically ride the new Nimby climb to the Paraglide launch as well as the new descent Stimulus. With the projection of this network into the alpine and being able to complete a traverse into the Birkenhead drainage, this is truly epic, and will rival Rosslands Seven Summits ride for preeminence in the destination mountain bike market. Everything else in the Sea to Sky corridor will pale in comparison”

The PVTA (Pemberton Valley Trails Association) is hosting a slideshow fundraiser at the new Community Centre, Pemberton, on Friday, 8pm,  June 11 2010.  Their aim is to raise at least $2500, to contribute to a pot of matching funds, that is being supported by the SLRD  (Squamish Lillooet Regional District), Village of Pemberton,  and the Pemberton Wildlife Association.  Tickets are $10 in advance at the Pemberton Bike Co or $12 at the door. Proceeds from beer sales and raffle-tickets at the slideshow all go to the PVTA.

3 Responses to “Pemberton positions itself to be the heart of alpine mountain-biking, aka “The Hub of the Wheel””
  1. iVision4u says:

    Having lived in Pemberton off an on, I think the big issue about trying to sell Pemberton as the centre of Mountain Biking is that in the valley itself it is very difficult to go out riding because many of the older locals with key real estate holdings have over the years aggressively blocked and destroyed bike trails and are very much against this concept. In short it is just not going to fly.

    • elvicious says:

      Hey Rob, I think the exciting thing about the PVTA’s current focus on developing these alpine trails is that there aren’t any tenure issues up there. Any new trail development is taking place with the support of the regional district’s trails function, as part of a master-planning process, and it’s bringing a lot of groups together, including the paragliding community and the Pemberton Wildlife Association, to enhance access. Balancing trail access and private property rights is something communities everywhere have had to deal with – it’s exciting to see things evolving in such a constructive way here in Pemby.

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