Downhill Shifts Into High Gear
Images W/B Laurence Crossman-Emms
Whistler has a reputation as one of the world’s premier destinations for mountain biking. As the popularity of the Whistler Bike Park began to explode, the town’s status as a mountain biking mecca was secured. This year, Whistler Blackcomb has ambitious plans to add more new trails to the Bike Park, putting more shovels in the dirt than ever.
In 2017, downhill mountain bikers will see roughly 12 kilometres of new trails under construction in the recently opened Creekside Zone, not to mention some key additions in existing areas of the park, says Brian Finestone, Whistler Bike Park manager.
This year’s plan for the Lower Creekside Zone includes four new singletrack and freeride-style trails, ranging in difficulty from expert to intermediate level. A fifth trail that’s potentially on the to-do list would kick off the development of the as-yet-untouched Upper Creekside Zone. However, Finestone cautions there’s a 50- 50 chance of getting to the latter project in 2017, depending on how much progress is made elsewhere.
Despite its ambition to rapidly expand the Creekside area, WB has additions planned for the existing bike park zones as well. With so much on their plate this season, the company is putting more workers on the mountain than ever.
“It’ll be the largest trail crew we’ve ever had in the Bike Park, which will be more than 30 people. About half of those will be equipment and chainsaw operators, and the other half will be hand crew,” Finestone says.
Within the existing park there are plans for 2 km of new trail, including an extended novice trail and an intermediate- level connection between the Creekside and Fitzsimmons zones. For beginners, the Golden Triangle trail will receive a new extension called Lower Golden Triangle. This addition will allow riders to bypass a section of old forestry road and enjoy more features like berms, rollers and jumps that keep things flowing and fun.
To better connect Creekside to the Fitzsimmons and Garbanzo zones, a trail called Blueberry Bathtub (which was added last year) will be extended on its upper end with an addition that reaches to just below the top of the Creekside Gondola.
“That is going to continue and parallel along the Expressway road, and get people off the road and onto a singletrack trail,” explains Finestone. The extension will create a more interesting way to lead riders back to the top of the Fitzsimmons chair and bottom of Garbanzo chair.
With many unpredictable factors like snow melt, weather conditions and what crews discover beneath the dirt (like massive granite rocks), it’s tough to determine exactly when these new trails will be opened. Whistler Blackcomb plans to have these developments finished by the end of the year, but if things go smoothly riders could get a taste of something new this summer.
For trail work updates, keep an eye on the Whistler Bike Park blog at bike.whistlerblackcomb.com