Driving across [most of] Canada recently, I decided to break my trip early to visit my friend Pete in Rossland, British Columbia. Nestled within the lush rolling mountains of south-east BC’s Kootenay region, this town of 3500 boasts some pretty stellar alpine mountain biking, including one of the few IMBA EPICS in Canada, the 7 Summits Trail.
Like any great mountain-bike trail, 7 Summits(ridden north to south) starts off with a climb. And not some easy little 20-30min climb. I mean a real hearty climb with grunting and sweating and burning legs. Told it normally takes about 90mins, I was pleased to reach the summit in about 1:10. As I did, I met three other mountain-bikers and their dog. Paul, Chris, Katherine and Spark pointed me to a lookout that offered the most spectacular views. Leapfrogging the rest of the day, they would eventually give me a drive back to Rossland.
The riding really was incredible back country riding. This 36km piece of alpine single-track trail(if you include the Dewdney Trail at the end, and you really ought) weaves its way up, over, along and down the ridge-line between the summits of Mt Lepsoe, Mt Elgood, Mt Plewman, Old Glory Mtn, Grey Mtn, Granite Mtn and Record Mtn. It was alpine riding at its best, reminding me of my favourite trail, The Monarch Crest in Colorado. Riding up around 2000m(6500′), the mountain views would literally stop me in my tracks as I gasped in awe. At times it was calm, warm and sunny. At other moments, I was putting on all my extra clothing as the wind ripped over the north face of the mountains, shrouding the trees in a lacy layer of frost. Pine trees littered the dry rocky trails with their needles while those exposed rocks made the descents technical yet thrilling.
Finishing the ride in just under four hours, I was back at Pete’s house enjoying a beer as I told him about the day. “So, how does it compare?” Pete asked, “does it deserve to be considered an IMBA EPIC trail?” Thinking about the qualifiers and others I’ve ridden, I knew the answer was yes. 36kms(22miles) of single-track with lots of climbing, technical sections and fast descending.
More than all that, 7 Summits gives you the feeling of really being out there, of truly enjoying a mountain-bike adventure way out in the back-country, high up in the mountains. I don’t know if that means it’s epic, but truly, riding the 7 Summits really is quite special.