Mount Cartier is a bucket list bike ride for many in Revelstoke. Towering more than 2,000 metres above the Columbia River, many years ago the BC Forest Service established a fire lookout right near the top.
And to get there, they built a trail.
I don’t know when the first people rode a bike down the Mount Cartier trail, but I know it’s a popular heli-drop for people with money, and an epic, grueling push for masochists.
The trail itself is a mix of flowy singletrack, technical roots and rocks and narrow, exposed sections in the alpine not much wider than your bike tire. It’s been improved in recent years as commercial operations started offering trips up there, but when I rode it in 2013, it was still very rough and wild. The top sections especially, where it switchbacks across the massive Greenslide avalanche path, were especially intimidating. One fall, and it’s easy to imagine tumbling right down to Airport Way.
I did the hike-a-bike in July 2013. I was a last-minute invite to a big group of very fit people and I was not prepared. I didn’t pack the right food, I didn’t sleep well the night before, and I’m held up as an example of lack-of-preparation because I neglected to change my read brake pad the night before and instead found myself scrambling to replace it at the summit. I struggled massively on the descent as my energy was sapped and I could barely control my bike.
Of course, I brought my camera with me to document the ride. Taking pictures is also my excuse to catch my breath, and I did a lot of that too.
Here it is – 20 photos from Mount Cartier.
Starting out. Only 15 kilometres and 2,000 metres of climbing to go.
At the bridge over McKay Creek, where the real climbing begins.
We ran into a lot of downed trees on the way up, which we cut away as we went. The work gave me a chance to catch up. I helped out when I could, but mostly I was happy to take it easy.
- Carol supervises as the boys work the saws.
About two-thirds of the way up, the trail passes an old cabin. Up until this point, the trail climbs through dense forest with no views to be had. Not long after, it opens up.
When a trail is this long and climbs this much, sometimes it’s easier to just carry your bike.
Or push it.
Finally, the trail skirts the edge of the Greenslide path. It’s the biggest avalanche path over a road in B.C. When it goes, it goes huge!
The higher you get, the better the views get. This is looking over at Mount Begbie (on the right) and the Mulvehill peaks.
After a whole lot of pushing, and not much pedaling, we near the top.
And hear we are, on the summit, at 2,610 metres above sea level. Matt brought a beer to celebrate.
The old fire lookout has been restored and maintained and is now the site of a radio repeater. Did I mention the views down the Upper Arrow Lake?
Looking into the fire lookout, with crazy cloud reflections.
And the fun begins. This was one of those “pick up the camera and shoot” photos that turned out pretty great.
Nash leads the way down the mountain. It’s a long way down.
Henning indulged me by waiting as I took photos while everyone else sped on ahead.
The trail through the Greenslide is very narrow at points. Revelstoke is off in the distance.
More beautiful views of the Upper Arrow Lake and the Monashee Mountains.
Nash rides the north ridge, with the summit looming above.
From there down, no one wanted to wait. I suffered and struggled and eventually made it back to the truck and beer.